In the period before you start preparing for the UPSC exam in all seriousness, you can try and lay a strong foundation for yourself. Empower yourself with knowledge and skills that will stand you in good stead when you sit for the exam and further in your career.
One very pertinent habit you can inculcate in yourself is of reading varied literature. Read books that will give you an insight into the social and political mores of the world. You must read the erudite writers who have explained and analysed such issues in their books.
I am sharing with you some authors and their works which I would recommend. These works are a pragmatic look into Indian polity and the social milieu as it was and as it is. These are all scholars who are recognised around the world. The books will arm you with facts on India and a deep analysis of how our country has shaped and where it can go.
1. India after Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha
This book is an account of modern Indian history post its independence, written by the historian RamchandraGuha. He consulted papers of many important figures and newspaper records from the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. He particularly found the papers of Mr C Rajagopalachari and Mr P N Haksar very useful. This book won recognition from The Economist, The World Street Journal, The Outlook and The Sahitya Academy of India, among others.
2. PaxIndica by Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor, a well-known diplomat, author and politician, speaks of how Indian diplomacy has come of age and talks of where it will need to focus in the new age. He analyses India’s major international relationships, evokes the country’ soft power and talks of how and why he thinks it is time for India to move from non-alignment to multi-alignment. He speaks of the global responsibility of India in the connected world of today.
3. Seeing like a feminist by Nivedita Menon
Nivedita, Professor of Political Thought at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and a writer who addresses women’s issues, explores the transforming world with a lens of feminism. How the world is irrevocably being influenced by this world view. Be it the sexual harassment charges against world figures, caste politics challenging feminism or the ban on the veil in France, Menon addresses all of them and explores the world as it changes in light of such movements.
4. Wonder that was India by A L Basham
A L Basham was a historian, Indologist and author. His book addresses the history of India, its social changes, the confluence of multiple cultures, governance, science, philosophy, literature, and also how the many invasions influenced our country through the centuries. This book is a must read to understand the Indian culture and the influence of the history on modern India.
5. Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen
A Nobel Prize winning Economist, Amartya Sen has written this insightful book that is a collection of essays on India’s history and identity with a focus on its traditions of public debate and intellectual pluralism. He has attempted to understand contemporary India in light of its tradition of public debates. He feels this is important for the success of India’s democratic tradition, secular politics and removal of many biases of caste, gender and community that unfortunately exist even today.
These are just some books that you must read to understand India, as it was, as it is and as it is evolving, and its role in the global scenario. They will help you formulate your own opinions and maybe help chart a path for yourself and your nation, even as a citizen.
Read these and similar books even before you embark upon your preparation. They will help you strengthen your knowledge base, your world view, and challenge your thought processes. They will enhance your analytical abilities and help you reason in light of facts. Exercises which will help you not only to study but also will help you when you walk down those cherished corridors.