UPSC Mains Preparation: Approach to Polity

Polity is an integral part of your UPSC preparation. Many people particularly while studying this subject in school would have felt that it is a dry and theoretical subject. But this is far from the truth. Polity is an interesting subject and one that cannot be avoided during your IAS exam preparation. Read on to find out how to approach polity for your UPSC exam preparation.

First comes the definition. All books will give you correct definitions of what is government and what is the constitution. This you can easily learn. But first, you must understand a very general definition of what is politics. Basically, politics is about –

  • What you get?
  • How you get?
  • When you get?

Politics is also about –

  • Development: why is the most mineral-rich region in India also the most poor?
  • Displacement: when a dam is constructed, why do some people get displaced while others reap the benefits of the dam?
  • Unemployment: why is there chronic unemployment in the country?

Politics is also about what you eat, what you wear, etc.

Everything is deeply political. Politics pervades everything. A good understanding of all these factors will help you in framing better answers in the mains exam.

How to Prepare Polity for IAS Exam?

The UPSC point of view:

Polity can be studied under the below given questions.

  • What is the idea of India?

Here the Preamble is important. It defines what kind of a country India is and should aspire to be.


  • What form of government India takes?

Here, the basic question is whether India is a centralised democracy (unitary like the UK) or a decentralised democracy (federal like the USA). Centre-state relations come into the picture here.


  • How exactly the government functions?

This part is important from a UPSC perspective. The three core areas of the government are:

Executive, Legislative and Judiciary

You should also understand the relation between all three.


  • How does the government deal with its citizens?

Here basically you study how the citizens can keep a check on the government.

  • What is the role of civil society with respect to the government?
  • Role of NGOs
  • Role of Fundamental Rights (very important for IAS exam)


  • How does the government get elected?

This is important as India is a democracy. Here the issue of elections come into the picture (very important for IAS Mains). Here you focus on Election Commissions and its idea, powers functions and problems. Issues here are:

  • Paid News
  • Criminalisation of politics
  • Funding of political parties


  • How can we get smart governments?

Here administrative reforms are talked about. SMART is basically an acronym for:

Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive, Transparent

Issues here are:

  • RTI
  • Citizen charter
  • Grievance redress
  • E-governance
  • Citizen-centric administration


  • What is international politics?

Not just internal politics, but also international politics is important. Here, India’s bilateral relations, stand on various global issues, relations with major powers, with immediate neighbours, etc. are studied. Also relevant is how India conducts itself at various global organisations and events.

Indian foreign policies:

1961 – NAM

1985 – SAAR

1991 – Look East Policy

2005 – Look West Policy

2012 – Central Asian Policy

Polity should be approached not as a dry theoretical subject but as an applied subject. You must try to relate it with news and events happening around you. For instance, you should think about why certain governmental schemes work while some others have failed. UPSC asks application-based questions. You should look at the CONTEXT and not just the TEXT. This way you will be able to write better answers for the mains exam.


Visit BYJU’S Website for strategy and articles on free IAS prep and all the latest on UPSC IAS exam.

Also See:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *