So far, all of mankind – about 7 billion people – have not been able to send one single man to Mars.
In fact, we even have trouble landing on Mars.
But here is the thing.
Assuming, if Elon Musk were to land a man on Mars – and let us say – that may take 20 years from now – What time do you think will it take the others to send a man on Mars too?
Even in the absence of transfer of technology – or a leakage – from Musk – chances are within 5 years of Musk doing it – almost everyone NASA, ISRO and the European Space Agency and a couple of private firms – will be able to send a man on Mars.
Even in the absence of technology transfer.
What could possibly explain this?
The fact is that when Musk sends a man to Mars, and when he successfully does so – all of humanity will know that its possible.
And that, my dear friends, is half the game in winning.
Once you believe something to be possible, it almost starts to get real.
I can tell you this.
Some of our friends are writing the Mains examination this September 17th.
For some of us, it will be the culmination of our months / weeks or years of preparation.
Here are some ideas for them. And the most important one is this.
#1 All you need is now a leap of faith
I often have my moments of joy, when on gloomy evenings late at work, I have folks call in – sometimes myself being the first 3 people they call – when they get massive success.
I often like to believe, they are thankful because I taught them so and so – or perhaps I guided them so and so.
But I am often humbled – sometimes to the point of disappointment – when I am told they remember none of it.
All that they remember was that one last conversation, or that one call which they badly needed just when they felt that while they had reached the finishing line – but had not quite made it.
“Sir, I have read all your articles,” Shruti said, when she exchanged texts after she secured Rank 1 in the Civil Services Examination 2021, this year.
What is most important now, is that you hold on to yourself , keep the faith in yourself, and keep galloping. We are now days before the examination. In sometime, we will be hours close to the examination.
What do we have to do these days? Just keep our faith in ourselves.
And if you lack faith in yourself, know that someone far away, sitting behind a keyboard and a monitor writing this, has it in you.
#2 Work on recalling, not just reading and revising
A key thing that you may do right now, is focus more on recalling rather than blindly reading.
We become good at what we do. If we spend time recalling, you will soon develop the knack to thing of 3/5/7 points on any topic / any dimension of the topic.
Do that in these last days / week before the examination. Think of what are the 5 or 6 things you will write when you get a question on food security/ flash floods / urban floods/ heat islands / etc.
#3 If you are tired of reading endlessly try writing.
If you are fed up of that black font on white paper, you must try writing or should I say scribbling on a daily basis. Identify 3-4 topics everyday and just scribble extremely short notes on it . These are your last minute revision notes.
While I am particularly impressed by students who clear the exam with a single digit rank, I am often unimpressed by the commonality of the approach. Most people have made last minute dirty notes on 30-40 topics each of GS Paper 2 and 3 and further 10 page notes on GS Paper 4 with value addition content.
Thats the thing you make for the last day. When should you make it? Now is a good time.
Will you be able to finish making notes of all topics?
But that is neither feasible nor desirable.
Do 3-4 topics everday and you will do wonders.
#4 You cannot write all Tests. Do this instead.
At this point, you will be under a duress to write Tests everyday.
Because everyone in the Universe is doing so.
While this is a good thing, it is advisable that you make sure you are not writing Tests with such a disinterest that you enter the zone of writing poor answers – not because you know less, or cannot remember a thing, but because you have lost interest.
Don’t get me?
Sometime in 2018, I once saw a bespectacled girl write Tests at the offline center at about 8PM. When I asked why she was so late writing the Tests, she said – Sir I first wrote my GS Test, from 9-12, then went for my Pub Ad Test from 2 to 5 and now from 5:30 I am here to finish off my essay tests.
“Minal”, I said, “you have probably peaked.”
Now is the time, where you may probably revise old papers, and if you want to solve questions, you can probably just scribble them in a paper. Do not write tests mindlessly any longer.
Will save the time, and the energy.
Also you can improve your coverage that way. Of questions. Answers. And Ideas.
Peak on the day of the examination, not before, not after.
If you are too tired writing tests, skip them, and just see the questions, and solutions, and internalise them.
#5 Use this Case Studies Toolkit.
When I had a few students come up for their Ethics paper, I decided to make a small toolkit. Here are some ideas you can use from it.
Firstly, make sure your sentences are less boring and are able to incorporate some ideas given here.
- Example 1 : When you have case study where if you be truthful, you will incriminate yourself, try being honest and use the quotes – Dharmo Rakshati Rakshata – That the law protects those who uphold the law.
- Example 2: When you have a case study where a peon under you. has been taking money in your name , use words like zero tolerance to corruption, no misplaced sympathy for the corrupt.
Secondly, in every case study, try to identify two things. One of them is identify what qualities are needed in that situation. The case requires display for moral courage, neutrality, integrity, uprightness ..( when asked to bow to a politician )
Or for instance, write how the situation requires qualities of leadership, crisis management, empathy, realisation of one’s duty.. ( when a question on demotivated staff doing rescue operation comes )
Two, in your arguments, identify what rights are violated. For instance in a Dalit cook boycotted by students for the mid day meal , write about the cook’s right/ children rights etc. ( right against untouchability, right to equality, human rights, right to dignified life, children’s right to nutritious meal, right to education , …
Three, identify what are duties we are overlooking.
Make your answer interesting. I mean be liberal with use of quotes/ ideas etc. Create them out of thin air. Don’t know quotes? Think Gandhi.
“wealth without work is a social sin”
And there you have 7 Sins translate to 7 quotations.
Here is the file you can use.Ethics-21-Case-Studies-Toolkit
#6 Life is what you make of it.
The days ahead, for those of us writing Mains are going to be stressful. We have a task at hand that needs a lot time, energy, focus and attention.
It is not going to be easy.
We can laugh about it, or cry about it.
The situation has little to be affected by what we think of it.
So, spend these days, focusing on the important things. Tasks at hand. Make sure your health is good for the bearing the stress of writing continuously for 3 hours for 5 days.
Nothing worth having comes easy.
This is your struggle. Embrace it.
You knew it was not meant to be easy when you signed up for it.
But then thats the price we have to pay for glory.
Rastrakavi Dinkar said it, and beautifully so
“प्रासादों के कनकाभ शिखर,
होते कबूतरों के ही घर,
महलों में गरुड़ ना होता है,
कंचन पर कभी न सोता है.
रहता वह कहीं पहाड़ों में,
शैलों की फटी दरारों में.
उड़ते जो झंझावतों में,
पीते जो वारि प्रपातो में,
सारा आकाश अयन जिनका,
विषधर भुजंग भोजन जिनका,
वे ही फानिबंध छुड़ाते हैं,
धरती का हृदय जुड़ाते हैं.”
Because its your duty.
Until next time,