The study that involves the physical and Geo-physical features of the earth including its climatic variations, atmospheric conditions, natural resources etc is together known as geography. Geography has many sub divisions of study under it. It is a vast subject and a detailed understanding would enable us to identify the morphological features of the earth thoroughly.
Study of geography includes:
- The atmospheric concepts.
- Latitudes and longitudes.
- Different types of rainfall around the world.
- Different types of soils and the crops that can be cultivated in them.
- Rivers, hills, mountains and their formations.
- Minerals- their formation and distribution.
- Concepts of human activity like agriculture, etc.
Geography in UPSC Prelims
- It is advisable to understand all the concepts thoroughly. A whole lot of questions pertaining to the application of these concepts can be expected in the prelims paper.
- The focus of the prelims paper is in two sections – Indian geography and world geography.
- Maps are an essential and very important part of the geography paper. Be familiar with different maps, for example mineral distribution, national parks, etc. Be prepared for a variety of questions.
- Along with referring books and journals, it is very essential to identify important facts from daily newspapers. Do not miss out on current affairs and latest developments.
- Indian geography contains a major slice of the questions and almost 2/3rd of the questions can be expected every year to appear from that section.
- Apart from this, you can also expect important questions from environment and agriculture sections. You can see a lot of application based questions coming up with lesser scope for mere theoretical knowledge.
- A major share of geography questions can be seen in the general studies paper as well, so your preparation of geography for the prelims would give you a double advantage.
- Familiarise yourself completely with every small detail of the Indian map.
- Understanding basic concepts clubbed with analytical thinking plus application of facts is the right strategy to work out for geography.
- Refer all the important reference books to cover maximum concepts and collect relevant facts.
- Starting preparation early will give you enough time frames for both prelims and main exam preparation in this subject. Remember, the subject has a wider scope of concepts.
- The topics appearing in prelims are much different from the mains, yet the subtle conceptual base should provide you a convenient ground for study.
Points to remember:
- Refer the government website related to ministry of information and broadcasting where you can get all the latest available information related to human geography.
- Human geography is also a popular area where you can expect direct questions in interview.
- Going too much in depth with technical fundamentals would lead to a time crunch later!
- Refer to old question papers and solve them. Answer mock tests as many as possible as part of your preparation.
- The best preparation strategy would be to prepare for the prelims and the mains simultaneously.
Important books for reference:
- Physical Geography by Savindra
- Certificate physical and human geography by Goh Cheng Leong
- Geography of India by Majid Hussain
- Human Geography by Majid Hussain
- Oxford school Atlas
- NCERT text books.
Special focus to be given to these areas, they will help simplify the preparation process:
- List out all the salient features of the world’s physical geography part. You can expect good coverage of questions from this portion.
- Familiarize yourself with the distribution of natural resources, not just in India, but across the world. Go step by step in this regard. Take up one country at a time and step to the next one. Spend some time everyday familiarising yourself with the variety of natural resources and how they are distributed across different parts of the world.
- List out all the important geophysical phenomena on earth. Take up each phenomenon separately. You could use visual aids like charts and pictures to grasp and understand the concepts in a better way. These phenomena are vast and need detailed explanation and understanding. Write down all important points related to each phenomena and revise from time to time.
- What, where, why and every single detail of atlas. Pay special attention to directions related to demography, different oceans and continents of the world.
- Study in depth the inner regions of the earth by using good illustrations. Learn about earthquake waves, compositions of the earth, different kinds of volcanic eruptions, landforms and tectonic plates, marine water forms, coastlines etc.
- Study the solar system. Here you need to streamline what to study and what not to. You should apply greater focus on studying the solar system in relation to the Earth’s system.
- Understand the different climatic regions of the world. Understand the variations in climate, how the physical factors of the earth influence climate in a region, concepts of tropic of cancer and tropic of Capricorn and the earth’s atmosphere. You could also learn in brief about air mass, cyclones, types of rainfalls, floods and precipitation, etc.
- Introduce yourself to the concepts of salinity and important topics under oceans. You should also learn ocean currents, tides, coral reefs, largest ocean, smallest oceans etc.
- Study the natural vegetation of the world and particularly in India. Study the Indian monsoon pattern well. Different types of monsoons like south west, north east monsoons etc need special focus.
- Learn the soil profile of India particularly. You could expect many questions over the years under this topic as well. Questions could be asked under forestation and soil management, Indian weather and its influence on Indian soil, rainfall and its effect on Indian soil and finally the crops of India with respect to Indian agricultural system.
- Study all the major river systems in India. The longest river, the shortest, other variants and the reasons why particular rivers hold special places in the geographical study of the country etc.
- Study the industrial development of India with respect to mineral distribution. Agriculture could be covered separately as it is an extensively vast topic and needs good attention too. Cover traditional practices and modern methods, farm equipment, modernization of agriculture, types of seeds, seed culture in India, different types of soil and different types of crops, hybridization, issues in agriculture etc.
Geography syllabus for UPSC Prelims
(Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World)
1. Basics of India
- Location, latitude, longitude, time zone, etc.
- Important straits
- States and their position
- States with international boundaries
2. Physical features
- The Himalayas – geological formation, climate, vegetation, soil, biodiversity, physiographic divisions, major passes, significance
- The Great North Indian Plains – geological formation, physiographic divisions, climate, vegetation, soil, biodiversity, significance
- Peninsular Plateau – geological formation, Central Highlands, Deccan Plateau, Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats
- Indian Desert
- Coastal plains and islands
3. River systems
- Himalayan rivers
- Peninsular rivers
- River basins
- Regional development and planning
- Hydropower projects, major dams
- West-flowing and east-flowing rivers
- Interlinking of rivers
- Monsoons – driving mechanism, El Nino, La Nina
5. Minerals and industries – mineral distribution, industrial policies, location
- Land utilization
- Types of agricultural practices
- Green revolution
- Soils and crops
- Land reforms
- Animal husbandry
- Government schemes
7. Natural vegetation and fauna
- Classification of natural vegetation
- Rainfall distribution
- Biosphere reserves, national parks, etc.
- Red-listed species
8. Economic infrastructure
- Transportation (highways, inland waterways, etc.)
- Power and energy sector
- Conventional and non-conventional sources of energy
- Energy conservation
9. Human Geography
- Recent census
- Major natural regions
- Regional geography of developed countries
- Regional geography of developing countries
- Regional geography of South Asia
- Origin of the earth
- Interior of the earth
- Types and characteristics of rocks
- Folding and Faulting
- Volcanoes, earthquakes
- Interior of the earth
- Landforms formed by fluvial, Aeolian and glacial actions
- Atmosphere – structure and composition
- Pressure belts
- Wind systems
- Clouds and types of rainfall
- Cyclones and anti-cyclones
- Major climatic types
- Ocean relief
- Temperature, salinity
- Ocean deposits
- Ocean currents
- El Nino and La Nina
- Waves and tides
- Soil – origin and types
- Major biomes of the world
- Ecosystem, food chain
- Environmental degradation and conservation
- Man & environment; relationship, growth and development of human geography; determinism and possibilism
- Population, tribes, migration
- Economic activities – agriculture, manufacturing, industries, tertiary activities
- Settlements, urbanization, functional classification of towns, million-cities and megacities
- Location-based questions pertaining to India and the world are also asked in the prelims.