How to prepare GS Paper 2 International Affairs topics for IAS Mains Exam

How to prepare GS Paper 2 International Affairs topics for IAS Mains Exam

This article will give a brief idea of how to prepare the International Affairs portion of the GS. Paper-II of UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam. GS. Paper-II which consists of Polity, Governance, Social issue and International relations carries 250 marks. From the analysis of the previous year Mains question papers you will find that, out of  250 marks, International Affairs part covers around 50-60 marks of questions since 2013. As the syllabus of International Affairs is not vast so scoring marks in International Affairs section is little easy. It is the marks fetching section and with good strategies, one can score very good marks.

Let's begin.

UPSC GS 2 Syllabus for IAS Mains Exam 

The UPSC Mains GS. Paper-II consists of mainly four topics of IR. Let us take a look at the IR. Syllabus of GS Paper II as defined in the UPSC Syllabus.

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

After analysing  the Syllabus it can be concluded that the most of the syllabus basically focuses on the relationship of India with its different neighbouring countries, Security issues & defence issue,  work of Indian diaspora in the world and role & functions of different important International institutions like W.T.O., I.M.F., World Bank etc

Important events in the world, Investment by Foreign countries, Foreign Trade and Current issues of the world which affect trade and supplies are the most important constituents of the syllabus.

Analysis of the Previous Year International Affairs GS. Paper-II Mains question paper of UPSC CSE

With an analysis of the Previous year question Paper of UPSC Mains Examination, one can observe that the questions asked under the International Relations part is of around 100 marks. The Essay Paper of UPSC Mains also has topics that are directly or indirectly related to International Relations.

In the year 2018, a total of 65 marks questions were asked and in the year 2017, a total of 50 marks questions were asked. International Relations really plays a significant role in building your own relations and further deciding whether you will be able to click your photo outside the UPSC Bhavan when you go for an Interview or you will be forced to prepare for Prelims again.

Approach for preparing GS Paper 2 International Affairs topics 

From the analysis of UPSC Previous years question papers, it is evident that in recent years the UPSC has not asked many questions from the static portion as there is no new question from this part as many questions have already been asked by the UPSC in the past 25 years.

Bifurcate the Static and Dynamic topics

If we look into the past question papers then we will find that mostly the questions are asked from the Current Affairs and burning topics. For eg.:-

  • Indian Diaspora has a crucial role to play in South-East Asian countries' economy and society. Appraise the role of Indian diaspora in South-East Asia in this context. [2017]

Note-This question which was asked in 2017 in the scenario of 25 years of the diplomatic relationship between India and ASEAN.

  • India’s relation with Israel has of late acquired a depth and diversity which cannot be rolled back. Discuss. [2018]

Note-This question was asked aftermath of the visit of Israeli Prime Minister V. Netanyahu to India on 14th Jan 2018.

  • In what ways would the ongoing US-Iran Nuclear pact controversy affect the national interest of India? How should India respond to its situation? [2018]

Note-This question was asked in 2018 when the Joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA) was in news and India-Iran discussed on the revival of Rupee-Rial payment mechanism.

So from here, it is evident that the Dynamic part should be mostly focused. But before approaching to this you have to tackle the 4 different topics of the syllabus which has been discussed above.

Bifurcate the Syllabus into four different parts

  1. In this section of Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora, The Hindu Newspaper is a saviour, as its coverage and analysis on International development have been beneficial in the past.
  2. In this section of India and its neighbourhood-relations, the website of the Ministry of External Affairs is the basic source, where one can learn about the relations between India and its neighbouring countries like:-

2.1 India-Afghanistan

2.2 India-Pakistan

2.3 India-Nepal

2.4 India-Bhutan

2.5 India-Bangladesh

2.6 India-Srilanka

2.7 India-Maldives

2.8 India-China

2.9 India-Myanmar

  1. In this section of Bilateral relations, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests, a candidate should focus on C.A, RSTV, World Panorama.

Topics like India-US(2+2), SCO, ASEAN, APEC, WTO etc. are frequent in NEWS and should be prepared well.

  1. In this section of Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure mandate one should focus on UNO and its various bodies as they are continuously working in India for development and poverty eradication.

P.S-  For Dynamic part, we must take note on 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 previous years question papers and prepare accordingly.

Important topics of International Relations

  1. India and its neighbours. 
  2. India and the Organizations (UN, G20, ASEAN, EU, IMF, World Bank  etc.)
  3. India and the Security council and P-5 countries (USA, China, France, Russia, UK.)
  4. India and Economically powerful nations (Australia, Japan, S.Africa, Brazil, UAE etc)
  5. Post-independence NAM/ Panchsheel Era
  6. India and the regions (South America, Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, Europe, etc.)
  7. During the Wars with Pakistan and China
  8.  LPG reforms in 1991
  9. CTBT
  10. The recent issues in the news 

Books, References and Sources

  • IGNOU Political Science module (India and the World
  • Challenges and strategy-Rethinking India’s foreign policy-Rajiv Shikri
  • The Hindu 
  • Economic and Political weekly
  • Rajya Sabha TV

Do’s & Don'ts when preparing GS Paper 2 International Affairs topics for IAS Mains Exam

  • Aspirants should make a habit of reading newspapers religiously. Importance should be given to the columns related to international relations in the Newspaper. It will also help in attempting essay paper.
  •  It is not necessary to remember all the irrelevant information like name of Prime minister’s etc etc. Tracking the development done by the Indian government in different countries and its effect on India and its relations. For eg. Chabahar Port development and its effect on India and Afghanistan relationship.
  • Answer Writing of the previous year question papers.
  • Joining a Test series will help a lot
  • Revision is a must, don’t just write.
  • In this day and age, gathering information is not a problem for the aspirants, managing the information overload is the real challenge. It doesn't help the aspirant much if the relevant information is somewhere buried in 300-400 pages thick book of irrelevant information. It is important to separate the wheat from the chaff. So it is important to find a good source and stick to that source.

Finally don't lose hope, faith and confidence. The roots of true achievement lie in the will to become the best that you can become.

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