Types of GD topics & How to handle them

Group Discussions, often called GDs, are an important part of various academic, professional, and selection settings. They provide a platform for individuals to showcase their communication skills, analytical ability, and teamwork. In a GD, participants discuss topics or situations, ranging from current affairs to abstract concepts. The goal is not just to express individual opinions, but to have a collaborative exchange of ideas, promoting understanding through collective discussion.
GDs assess participants' knowledge of a subject and their ability to think critically, respond adaptively, and interact respectfully. It's a setting where listening is as important as speaking and building on others' ideas is valued. Effective group discussion requires a balance of assertiveness, empathy, clear thinking, and the ability to understand different perspectives. In essence, GDs are not just discussions; they are a way to explore complex issues, make decisions, and solve problems by collaborating effectively.
Types of Topics in a Group Discussion
A Group Discussion may be based on two categories of topics:
1. Factual: A comprehensive understanding of facts and information regarding the static and dynamic components of the environment, including social, political, and economic factors, is crucial when discussing such topics. These subjects can be further classified into the following categories:
  • Factual Generic - A fundamental level of awareness regarding different aspects of our environment is necessary for understanding these topics. They primarily evaluate your interpersonal skills, behavior, and ability to generate coherent points, rather than focusing on specific sector-related knowledge. Here are some examples:
    • Cricket and India
    • Issues of managing diversity in a country like India
    • Honesty is the best policy
    • Living in a joint family is better
    • Guessing is an act of intelligence
  • Factual Specific - These topics evaluate your ability to tackle the unique challenges of collecting and analyzing information in specific areas. A comprehensive grasp of current affairs can greatly enhance your confidence in handling such subjects. Here are some examples:
    • WTO and its impact on the Indian Economy
    • The Jasmine revolution and implications for the Arab world
    • GAAR
    • The Euro crisis: issues and challenges
    • Coalgate
2. Abstract: Perception plays a crucial role in shaping our understanding of various topics. How we approach a subject determines our level of engagement and performance. The key challenge lies in presenting multiple implications of the topic and sparking a discussion around them. Success in this endeavour hinges on our ability to generate ideas and provide a concrete perspective to an otherwise abstract concept. Here are some examples:
  • Pigs can fly
  • And the clock struck 13!
  • Pink pyjamas over the Red Fort
  • Red is red, blue is blue and never the two shall meet
  • Black
Attempting Factual Topics:
To comprehensively approach factual topics, it is important to consider multiple perspectives and delve into the underlying reasons behind the topic or issue. This approach enables a more comprehensive exploration of various aspects of the subject matter. It is highly advisable not to adopt a predetermined stance before delving into the topic, as it may hinder the generation of new ideas and transform the discussion into a mere debate. Factual topics can be further categorized into the following classifications:
Current Affairs
The techniques that you can adopt to manage factual topics are:
  • Try and find the stakeholders in the given issue- try and figure out those elements that have been responsible for the occurrence of the problem. Also, figure out the elements that are going to lose or benefit from the issue
  • A good way to start is asking why- Try to find the root of the topic i.e. what has caused this issue
  • Try to explore the history of the topic- find the people/events that triggered the issue
  • Discuss the Pros and Cons and offer your perspectives
  • Give examples relevant to the issue
Handling Abstract Topics:
The techniques that you can adopt to manage abstract topics are:
  • Creativity and Lateral Thinking: Focus the Group on thinking as creatively as possible and then translating that thinking into concrete ideas and words
  • Linking to factual issues: A creative idea is best if linked to a factual issue and preferably a matter currently in the news
  • Ability to understand and develop: Paying close attention to other people's points so that they can be developed further
  • Linking abstract concepts: Connecting two concepts to form a third one and creating a new area of thought is an impressive way to take forward the discussion
  • Funnel Approach: An advancement of the above idea where the participant combines not just 2 or 3 but a whole range of diverse ideas to find common grounds between them and bring them together
Techniques for idea generation
Example: Reservation in India
  • Social- Inequalities in rural and urban India like Untouchability, Reservations for socially and educationally backward classes (Art. 15)
  • Political- Caste based vote-bank politics Women Reservation Bill?
  • Historical- Genesis of Caste System in India. Was there a timeline set by the Constitution?
  • Economic- Creamy Layer Reservations in jobs and educational institutes
  • Legal- Indian Constitution, Right to equality (Art. 14). However, ‘ positive discrimination’ is allowed (Art. 15)
  • Technological- Reservations in the private sector like IT/ITES. Is Reservation in IITs/IIMs killing merit?
  • International- Is Reservation making India less competitive in the world? A similar policy of Affirmative Action in the USA too
  • Religion- Reservations for Minorities; Sachar Committee Report
Example: BLACK
  • People- corrupt/ dishonest people
  • Objects- Black hole, manipulated balance sheet (commerce point)
  • Place- Historical monuments, graveyard, South or North pole
  • Behaviour- rude and aggressive behaviour
  • Event- 26/11, other tragic events
  • Actions- Honour killing, female foeticide , Negligent behaviour
  • Nature – environmental degradation, catastrophic events,
  • Society- Decline in values, morals
  • Political- Government policies on tech innovation and startups
  • Economic- Black hole, manipulated balance sheet (commerce point)
  • Sociological- Historical monuments, graveyard, South or North pole
  • Technological- Evolution of mobile and communication technologies
  • Legal-Data protection and privacy laws
  • Environmental- E-waste management and recycling technologies
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