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How to study International Relations and Affair for UPSC CSE

International Relations (IR) is one of those topics under UPSC General Studies Paper 2 that is both highly dynamic and challenging to...

Greeta Sulochana Written by Greeta Sulochana · 3 min read >
International Relations and International Affairs for UPSC CSE

International Relations (IR) is one of those topics under UPSC General Studies Paper 2 that is both highly dynamic and challenging to study at the same time.

To study international relations for your UPSC is an inevitable part of your IAS preparation. You will not only have to refer to great books but also keep up with the recent developments over the world, especially with regards to India.

In this article, we will explore the syllabus for international relations, and also study important concepts of international relations and international affairs from the UPSC CSE perspective.

Syllabus For International Relations

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

Expert tip:

To make the most of your preparation, make it a point to understand your syllabus well. Besides a strong foundational knowledge, you must read the newspaper daily, especially the columns related to foreign policies and India’s Relations with other nations.

Your Go-to Plan For Preparing International Relations For UPSC CSE

Every year, there are questions asked for around 100 marks from this section. Taking this topic lightly should not even be a thought for you.

Let us first explore some general tips on how to tackle this crucial subject for your examination: –

  • Mind The Syllabus, Always!

    It is best to keep your syllabus in mind during the preparations. Sticking to the syllabus will give you an idea of how to form the outline of the topics to cover.
  • Pick Up The Previous Years’ Question Papers

    Before getting started with your study, you must pick up the previous years’ question papers. This will help you gain insight on the quality and nature of questions asked. It is important to understand the style of questions asked as now, you will know how to infer bookish knowledge and break it down conceptually/diagnostically on paper.
  • Pick Up The Newspaper Daily

    International relations is a dynamic topic. You must keep abreast of all latest happenings in India and the world when it comes to news on this. The Hindu is a great newspaper for all your international relations news.
  • Surf Online For Newsmakers

    It is a great idea to hit up the internet to gather crucial current affairs and opinions on this topic. But, give this secondary importance above others.
  • Make Concise Notes

    Like any other subject, for this one too, note making is unavoidable. The right way to make notes for international relations is by making country specific notes.

For example,

Our prime minister visited the Republic of South Korea recently to bolster strategic ties.

Now, from the perspective of your preparation, you should know all the details of international exchange between India and South Korea till date.

Let us now take on the preparation process based on the three major areas you must concentrate on: –

What To Study Under The Foundations Of IR:

  1. Clearly understand the basic philosophy aiding the international relations.
  2. You must know the evolution of India’s foreign policy
  3. You must be aware of all big changes in the international arena over the past few years. Clearly define India’s role and response to it.
  4. You must highlight the role of India in all the major international organizations.

What To Study For India’s International Relations Based On Location.

  1. You must study India and its relations with its neighbors. These include the countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, China, Sri Lanka, and Nepal
  2. You must pay attention on India’s take and contribution to various organizations including the United Nations, ASEAN, G20, GCC, EU, World Bank, IMF, etc.
  3. Make it a point to study the relationship between India and other international regions like Central Asia, The Americas, Middle East, Africa, Europe, etc.)
  4. It is also important to study India’s relations with the affluent nations of the world, like Germany, Japan, USA, etc.
  5. You must also read up on India and the 5 UNSC members i.e., USA, China, France, Russia and UK

What To Study In Bilateral Relations And Foreign Policy.

Make it a point to study in-depth about bilateral relations between India and the following:

  • Neighbors
  • Russia
  • USA
  • China

While studying India’s foreign policy, study it from the perspective of the following stages:

  • After independence era
  • The cold war and non-alignment time
  • Wars between china and Pakistan
  • Fall of the USSR
  • After 9/11

How To Study International Affairs?

  • International affairs are as important as international relations for your UPSC mains GS 2 paper.
  • The major difference lies in the kind of questions that will be asked under international affairs.
  • Unlike international relations, where questions are framed around India and its ties with other nations, here, you will be asked about the relationship existing between other countries.
  • For example you might be asked about the current state of affairs between USA and china.

The Right Approach To Study International Affairs:

While the foundational preparation tips remain the same for both, for International Affairs, you must concentrate on the following topics:

  • The United Nations
  • Crucial international organizations:
  1. European Union
  2. League of Nations
  3. Organization of American States
  4. G8
  5. G20
  6. African Union
  7. ASEAN
  8. Arab League
  9. CIS
  • Organization Of Islamic Cooperation
  • International Legal Bodies
  • The Important Economic Institutions

Best Books To Study International Relations For UPSC

  1. Official Website Of The Ministry Of External Affairs
  2. Pax Indica – Shashi Tharoor
  3. Institute For Defense Studies And Analyses (Idsa) Website
  4. The Hindu Newspaper
  5. Frontline Magazine
  6. India’s Foreign Policy: Coping With The Changing World – Muchkund Dubey
  7. Ncert Books
  8. Official Websites Of Imf/World Bank/Un

Written by Greeta Sulochana
Greeta Sulochana is a content evangelist with a flair for compelling creative writing. She has penned down her thoughts in poetry and prose since the past five years, and has catered her skills to the Indian and international audiences. She started out as an advertising intern with Grey worldwide, and is now a full-fledged writer in passion and profession, who has worked for major national brands. Profile

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