Friday, 6 February 2015

How to form opinions? (for civil service aspirants)

Opinion forming is very easy !
It is more or less like 'breathing'.  You are doing it, even now. 

Yet, there is a need for such a blog.  Why?
Because though everyone 'breathes' all the time, breathing techniques need to be corrected for activities like exercise, martial arts, swimming etc. !!!

Likewise, for any civil service aspirant, normal 'opinion forming' is not enough. 

There are four steps in forming an opinion.
                1, Reading  / Listening
                2, Internalising
                3, Speaking / Writing
                4, Reading / Listening 

1, Reading / Listening
  • To form an opinion on anything, you have to 'know' something about it.
  • You get to 'know' something  by 'reading' about it or by 'listening' about it.
  • More often than not, what you 'read' or 'listen to' is already 'opinionated'.
  • Hence, for the purpose of CSE, the best read is always NCERT books, Government websites and NBT books.
  • Even if you read or listen to other sources, just absorb the facts and leave out the opinions.
2, Internalising
  • This is the most important step in 'forming' an opinion.
  • You already have your own thought process, by which you internalise the facts on any issue.  It is unique to you.  It has developed as you grew up.
  • Every individual is unique.  That means, for 10 different individuals, there must be 10 different opinions ?
  • No, because the thought processes are like streams.  Some of the streams merge on their way and finally join a single pool.  Thus, 10 different individuals can have an identical opinion on an issue !!
  • If I already have a thought process & I am making opinions already, what is there to do? Should I change it or stick to it ?
  • Like 'breathing', you need to control, modify and stream line your internalising thought process.
What is this 'thought process', 'internalising' ?
(These jargons are going above my head!) 
  • Imagine your thought process as a 'filtering mechanism'
  • The primitive water filters where earthen pots filled with charcoal in one, sand in other, gravel in another and stacked one over other with a hole that allows water to drip down through !!!
  • Your 'thought process' is the 'filtering mechanism' & 'internalising' is the act of getting pure water at the end of filtering !

What are the pots in my filtering mechanism? 
  • You have 'values you cherish' as the 'pots'
  • Since everyone has different levels of cherishing different values, the pots are different for everyone.  Thus making the 'thought process' unique !
  • For example - I cherish a value 'helping the poor'.  Now this is one of my pots.  So anything that is 'equal' to rich and poor will get stuck in this pot and I will form an opinion, that the issue is not good !
  • You will now see that there can be 10 pots stacked or more ?
  • You will now see that they can be arranged in any order ? 

How to suit my thought process to CSE? 
  • You just need to re align your pots to the Constitution !
  • That's all !!!
  • Sovereignty, Democracy, Justice, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Secularism and Socialism.
  • If an issue, as per your understanding will erode the country's sovereignty, it get stuck in the pot and your opinion about the issue gets formed as 'not good'!
  • Hey, you formed an opinion fit for a CSE aspirant !!! 

3, Speaking / Writing
  • What is the need for a third step ?  I have already formed an opinion !
  • You need to understand that opinions bound to get changed when
    • additional information comes - in this case, someone clarifies that there is no erosion of sovereignty.
    • you re arrange your pots - in this era of globalisation, you start tolerating a little bit of loss of sovereignty and the pot goes to the bottom !
  • There is nothing wrong with changing your opinion based on additional knowledge and changed values !!!
  • In fact, it is good to have an open mind on any subject.
  • Oh, then will I look like a person with no conviction ???
  • This is where the third step comes in.
  • Forming an opinion is important.  An equally important job is to find the right way of expressing.
  • It is ideal to express an opinion with a qualification.
  • In the last case, it will be like 'in my opinion, the issue is not good because it erodes the sovereignty of our country' !
  • Much better than 'in my opinion, the issue is not good' !!!
  • So, what do I do ?
  • You 'debate' with co aspirants.  If not write down in a piece of paper and give it for someone to evaluate.  If neither is possible, speak/write to yourself and evaluate !
  • If it holds water, then you not only formed an opinion fit for CSE but also expressed it in a convincing manner !!!

4, Reading / Listening
  • Opinion forming like any other education, is a continuous process !!!
  • Read more on the subject
  • Listen more on the subject
  • If you are going to cover all topics, similar issues will be covered to improve upon your opinions.  So don't waste too much time on an issue.
  • Then follow the four steps.
  • The more number of cycles an issue goes through your thought process, the more informed and convincing your opinion will be !!!

When should I start forming opinions ?
Surely prelims, mains don't need them ?
In mains, you need to discuss all angles on a subject and give a balanced ending statement and not an opinion !! 

So I need to start doing this only after mains ?
Start doing it from now on !
You will see it not only increases the number of cycles an issue passes through your thought process but it will also help in keeping things in your memory !!! 

If the blog is too heavy
Take a deep breath
You just made an opinion now :-)


  1. Sir, truly enlightening one.. thank u so much sir...

  2. Really useful. ...excellent.....

  3. Extraordinery sir we may not find this type of information in any coaching institutes