Social Issues UPSC Syllabus


‘Social issues’ is an important topic for the UPSC civil services exam. It is covered in the General Studies Paper 1, although it has implications in all the four GS papers and even in the essay paper at times.

Social issues/Indian Society is covered under the following headings in the GS paper I UPSC syllabus:

  • Salient aspects of Diversity of India and Indian Society
  • Role of women and women’s organization
  • Population and associated issues
  • Poverty and developmental issues
  • Urbanisation – problems and remedies
  • Social empowerment
  • Communalism, regionalism and secularism

Social issues are also covered in GS paper II especially in governmental schemes related to various sectors, welfare schemes, health, education, human resources, poverty, hunger, etc.

At the outset, you should know that the topics under social issues are not technical but rather general in nature. You can easily read about these topics in various articles and editorials in the newspapers. Instead of cramming figures, you should aspire to understand the crux of the problems facing society at every level. You must develop a holistic view of issues and for this, reading a variety of editorials and opinions matter. You should also be able to make your own judgements about issues but make sure they are UPSC-friendly (not too extreme). At the end of the day, your aim is to clear the exam, not change the world – for now! Your views should be balanced and convey the pros and cons of every angle. Think Buddha’s Middle Path!

Aspects you should focus on:

The diversity of the Indian society is something that baffles foreigners and also native Indians many times. You should ideally be able to picture the real India encompassing every citizen from different regions, speaking different languages, professing a multitude of faiths, enjoying diverse cuisines, and soaking up the growth story and the delightful confusion that makes up India today in their own specific ways.

You should next focus on the problems faced by Indian society. Every problem whether political, economic, security-related or cultural can be linked to social issues. Indian society faces a hoard of problems and you should read about them in a very objective fashion.

Some of the problems that the UPSC seems to like:

  • Poverty
  • Population
  • Development
  • Urbanisation/migration
  • Globalisation
  • Regionalism
  • Communalism
  • Social backwardness
  • Women’s issues
  • Education

Study material for social issues:

  • Social Problems in India – Ram Ahuja
  • UPSC: Civil Services Main – Indian Society (A General Overview) – B. Ramaswamy
  • NCERT Sociology NCERT Class XI – Understanding Society
  • NCERT Sociology NCERT Class XII – Indian Society, Social Change and Development in India.
  • Magazines like Yojana and Kurukshetra
  • Newspapers

Also See | How to Approach Post-Independence Indian History for UPSC?

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