HISTORY AS THE OPTIONAL SUBJECT - MYTHS & REALITIES
I PERCEPTION OF MANY ASPIRANTS1. Full of crude facts
2. Full of tales & stories
3. Full of dates & years
4. A lot of cramming is required
5. Lengthy syllabus
6. Difficult to get very good marks
II THE TRUTH1. There are factual details in all subjects. One cannot do away with fact or information in any subject. First, one has to remember a large no. of facts for the Preliminary Examination in all sections viz., Geography, Science & Technology, Indian Economy etc.. Secondly, almost every answer in the Main Examination requires facts / information without which the answer becomes a story and very generalised.
2. Preparation for History (Main Examination) does not require cramming of crude facts. The nature of questions is not such, that demands craming. Broad information with conceptual & developmental clarity and analytical capability are the essence of writing a good answer.
3. The syllabus of almost all subjects is equally vast and comprehensive. The UPSC does not discriminate among subjects. The commission has determined a standard for each subject and has incorporated all important topics into the syllabus of each subject. All popular subjects selected by the candidates like History, Geography, Political Science etc. have comprehensive syllabus. One popular basis to determine the length of the syllabus of any subject is the area on a page it covers or no. of columns it covers on a page. Syllabus of some subjects cover two-three columns, whereas some cover just one column and half the column. This is completely irrational. Coverage of area / column depends on the way syllabus is presented - if only major topics are mentioned this will cover less area while if topics, sub-topics and description of topics are given it will cover more area. New aspirants often get misguided on this basis.
4. The syllabus of certain subjects such as History, Political Science are more defined and so appear lenghty - it doesnot mean the syllabus of certain other subjects is short, it appears so because it includes only major themes.
5. The UPSC / Examiner does not discriminate among subjects in giving marks. Fetching of good marks solely depends upon one's performance, not the subject. One can get good marks in any subject. The results of the Civil Services Examination every year too establish the same fact. The only rational criteria for the subjects being more scoring or less scoring is the stream they are associated with. Subjects associated with science may be more scoring than those of humanities because of greater objectivity. Likewise subjects of humanities may be more scoring than literature.
6. Every subject is good. The syllabus of almost every subject is equally lengthy and demand equal amount of labour. The syllabus of all popular subjects like History, Geography, Political Science etc. are equally vast. One can get a high level of marks (required to make one successful) in all subjects through proper guidance, adequate labour and good performance. A simple logic is that a subject doesnot perform, an individual performs and performance makes a subject scoring.
7. History is as scoring as any other subject under humanities. Every year there are one-two candidates having history optional among top twenty. Every year there is a good no. of students getting 300+ marks in history. Besides, There are over 100 selections every year from History optional subject.