This article will give a brief idea on how to cover the international relations portion of the General Studies Paper-II of UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam especially for IAS aspirants who are beginners and decided to take UPSC Civil Services Exam for the first time.

International Relations UPSC Syllabus

Let’s take a look at the International Relations Syllabus of GS Paper II as defined in the UPSC Syllabus.

International Relations Syllabus for UPSC Mains
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • India and its neighbourhood- relations
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

This part of the syllabus includes India’s relationship with the world in several aspects such as:

    • India’s relation with neighbouring countries and in the region
    • Security and defence related issues
    • Nuclear policy, issues and encounters
    • The Indian Diaspora and its contribution to India and the world
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate This part includes economic and trade issues like:
    • foreign trade
    • foreign investment
    • economic and diplomacy issues relating to oil, gas and energy flows;
    • the role and functions of I.M.F., World Bank, W.T.O., WIPO etc. which influence India’s economic interaction with other countries and international institutions Important events in world affairs and on international institutions.

Sources to refer for International Relations Syllabus of UPSC

IGNOU Political Science module (India and the World) – Click here

This module contains important details that are essential to cover the static/traditional portion of India’s Foreign Relations after independence.

Analysis of International Relations Questions of GS Paper II in UPSC Mains

With an analysis of UPSC previous years Question Papers of Mains exam, one can observe that the questions asked under the International Relations part is for more than 100 marks. The Essay Paper of UPSC Mains also has topics that are directly or indirectly related to globalization and international relations Questions on International Questions are also asked often in the Personality Test/Interview Round.

Areas to focus in International Relations of UPSC Syllabus
  1. India and her neighbours (Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China and Nepal)
  2. India and the regions (South America, Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, Europe and etc.)
  3. India and the big 5 UNSC members (USA, China, France, Russia and UK
  4. India and Economically powerful nations (Australia, Japan, S.Africa, Brazil, UAE etc)
  5. India and Organizations (UN, ASEAN, G20, GCC, EU, IMF, World Bank etc.)
  6. Post-independence NAM/ Panchsheel Era
  7. During the Wars with Pakistan and China
  8. Atomic Bomb test
  9. Cold War
  10. Fall of USSR and LPG reforms in 1991
  11. Second Atomic Test
  12. Post 9/11
  13. The recent issues in news (CurrentAffairs )

Divide the syllabus into static and dynamic
Static Portion of the International Relations Syllabus 

From the above important areas of focus the points from 6-10 will fall under static portion of the syllabus. If one analyses the UPSC Previous years question papers it is evident that in recent years the UPSC has not asked much questions from the static portion as many questions have been asked in the past 25 years and it is advised to refer these question papers just to get a glimpse about the type of questions has been asked.

From the provided IGNOU PDFs for Political Science make short notes on keywords though each region and each stage based on the geography.

Dynamic Portion of the International Relations Syllabus 

Any recent issues that appeared in the news like:

  • The bilateral visits of Presidents and Prime Ministers
  • India’s participation in international organizations etc.

To get a fair idea about what kind of questions would be asked, it is advised to aspirants to go through the five previous years question papers and prepare accordingly.

How to cover the dynamic portion of the syllabus? 

It is recommended to:

  • make a list of bilateral visits
  • pacts or treaty signed
  • make a list of all important international events of last year’s where India was involved To cover the Indian Diaspora First understand the basic concepts like OCI, PIO, NRI, Citizenship issues, then correlate the current issues with the traditional topics
  • Make international relations notes for UPSC exam
  • Don’t give much importance to the dates of visits

For e.g. recent issues in news:

  • India’s Expatriate Evacuation Operations: Bringing the Diaspora Home
  • PM Modi likely to address Indian diaspora in Houston
  • Schemes of Government for the protection and welfare of Indian workers abroad


Advise while preparing for International Relations
  • Aspirants Should make a habit of reading newspaper religiously and one should know that this syllabus cannot be covered in a week as it is will be an on-going process.
  • Always give importance to columns related to international relations in the Newspaper
  • Reading newspapers will make it easy to attempt an essay on globalization and international relations topics
  • Also, it is not necessary to keep inch by inch information on what is going on for e.g. the political chaos in Nepal, it is not important to remember all the prime ministers’ name and the dates they were sworn in, so make sure you understand what is important and give importance to those.

Also, see:

Important topics in International Relations
Geography and International Relations through Maps
Strategy for International Relations in GS Paper 2 Mains

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  1. i want gs paper 2 IR full syllabus