Types of GD Topics & How to handle them

What are the different types of Topics in a Group Discussion?
A Group Discussion may be based on two kinds of Topics:
Factual: Such Topics require familiarity with facts/information on static/dynamic components of the environment (such as social, political, economical, etc.). These topics can be further categorized into the following:
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  • Factual Generic - These Topics require a basic level of awareness with respect to the various segments of our environment. They test you more on interpersonal skills, behavior and your ability to generate points, rather than discrete sectoral information. 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 assess you on specific challenges in gathering and analyzing information on select areas. A thorough understanding of current affairs can ensure a high comfort level in handling such Topics. 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
Abstract: Such topics are based on your perception. The way you look at the topic decides your subsequent participation and performance. The challenge here is to put forth multiple implications of the topic and then evoke a discussion on some of them. Idea generation and ability to add a tangible angle to an otherwise abstract topic are the hallmarks of success here. 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
Handling Factual Topics:
The first step towards approaching factual topics is to look at the topic from multiple perspectives. Try to get the reasons behind the topic/issue. This would help in covering more areas of the topic. It is highly recommended that one should not take a pre-mediated stand before the start of the topic, as it may restrict one to contribute new ideas to the topic and also the discussion becomes more of a debate. Factual Topics can be further classified into the following categories:
Current Affairs
The techniques that you can adopt to manage factual topics are:
  • Try and find the stake holders in the given issue- try and figure out those elements that have been responsible for the occurring 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
  • Techniques to be used for idea generation for factual topics: SPHELTIR (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 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 private sector like IT/ITES. Is Reservation in IITs/IIMs killing merit?
  • International- Is Reservation making India less competitive in world? Similar policy of Affirmative Action in USA too
  • Religion- Reservations for Minorities; Sachar Committee Report
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 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
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Techniques to be used for idea generation for abstract topics: POP-BEANS
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
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