How to Study International Relations for UPSC Mains - GS paper II

International Relations is an important part of the USPC mains exam. It is part of General Paper II. The GS Paper II syllabus mentions the following:

  • International relations: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • India and its neighbourhood- relations; Important International institutions, agencies, their structure, mandate
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

This is an unavoidable part of your IAS preparation because every year the UPSC asks questions worth around 100 marks from this section. This article gives you tips and strategies to prepare for these topics and also international relations notes for IAS exam.

Strategy for UPSC International Relations

This topic contains more dynamic than static portions. It is important to keep abreast of the latest happenings with respect to India and her relations with other countries in the world, to prepare suitable notes for this topic.

For your convenience, while preparing for these topics from the UPSC syllabus, we have divided it into sections.

India’s international relations based on location:

  • India and neighbours (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, China and Nepal)
  • India and various organizations (UN, G20, ASEAN, GCC, IMF, EU, World Bank etc.)
  • India and the different regions (The Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe, etc.)
  • India and the rich nations (Australia, Japan, USA, etc.)
  • India and the 5 UNSC members (USA, France, China, Russia and UK )

India’s foreign policy during the different phases:

When you start reading the IR study material, you must begin by reading about:

  • The basic philosophy underlying international relations.
  • Evolution of the foreign policy of India.
  • Major changes in the world in the last few decades and how India has been affected by those changes.
  • Role of India in the major international organizations.

In bilateral relations, you must focus on:

In every relationship, look for the following:

  • Historical relations
  • Economic relations
  • Contemporary issues
  • Areas of confrontation
  • Landmark agreements or movements
  • Way to the future
  • Unique opportunities or challenges
  • Indian diaspora

In the IR portions, you must be able to write analytically. Therefore, it is important that you keep reading newspapers and other magazines focusing on the issues pertaining to foreign policy and relations. 

The study material for international relations for IAS exam:

  • Pax Indica – Shashi Tharoor
  • Official Website of the Ministry of External Affairs
  • Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) Website
  • Newspaper editorials on relevant topics
  • Frontline magazine
  • Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy – Rajeev Sikri
  • India’s Foreign Policy: Coping with the Changing World – Muchkund Dubey

Check the International Relations syllabus for UPSC here.

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