I would like to remind you that out of more than 5-6 lakh applicants less than 1000 candidates are able to find place in the final merit-list. You look at result of a few toppers and make up your mind which optional subject is good and performing.
Perception rules the world and your decision based on the perception can be damaging if you don’t care for finer details associated with information you come across.
Too many candidates think that be it any optional subject, they all are the same thing. Yes, it could be for some extremely talented candidate but, for a common candidate it is not possible to be casual while selecting optional subject.
Anyone can safely recommend to you on basis of the performance of the most popular optional subjects like Public Administration, Geography, Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy, History, Political Science & International Relations etc. Many candidates think that picking most popular optional subjects means they are doing what achievers are doing, what UPSC trends are right now and are making a move in the direction in which wind is flowing; but, let me tell you that’s not the case.
When I try to plot over time how today’s craze - Public Administration evolved and grew as the most popular optional subject, I think with changes introduces by UPSC in 90’s when science subjects particularly Physics and Mathematics started loosing stream and subjects like Anthropology was off radar, candidates with optional subjects like History and Sociology were not appearing randomly on the top of merit-list, Public Administration emerged as an alternative.
Its popularity was slow but gradual. In past few years, candidates with top ranks with Public Administration raised the potential. The same stands true for Psychology also.
But, the recent emergence of Public Administration as safe optional subject is result of partly passive observation and more importantly due the rumour of removal of optional subjects from Main Examination and the perception that Public Administration would be present with major share in any new syllabus.
Hottest of all, now you get suggestion to pick Literature of Languages as these are performing. Some go a little deep – pick any Literature of Language other than Hindi; why, what wrong Literature of Hindi Language has done? Its success-rate is still better than some of the most popular optional subjects.
People say, be it any Literature of Language, you can master it with help of coaching. Here, I will agree that may be your own mother tongue or some Literature of Languages like Hindi, English, Pali, and Sanskrit, may be Maithili as well could be picked. But, how-so-ever talented a candidate may be, can that candidate say from Punjab who is not exposed to for example Malayalam can take Literature of Malayalam Language and perform? I have my doubts.
People show 400 plus marks to recommend any particular optional subject; I may be blunt but the number of candidates securing 400 plus marks in all optional subjects would be in double digit only. But, have you thought about those thousands of candidates who get low marks and ruin their chances of success with the same optional subjects which are promoted as safe optional subjects.
Any particular optional subject may provide a lot of value for some other candidate – but not necessarily for you also. Moreover, picking a pair of optional subjects is not the whole thing; you have to justify your decisions with immaculate performance.
Does that mean you ignore all of the popular optional subjects for your own? I am not suggesting that. But, if you are confident about your subject, you should keep it in your consideration list.
Before you even start preparation for Civil Services Examination, you should thoroughly map out your game plan. This examination is different and you have to ensure that your preparation is not flawed due to wrong decisions particularly with selection of optional subjects.