#11:International Relations : Booklist , Syllabus & Preparation Strategy

What is the meaning of International Relations ? What is its relevance in the UPSC Exam? Is it a part of UPSC mains? Lets deep dive below to seek answers for these questions.

UPSC CIVIL Services conducts 9 papers (7+2). In which  General studies paper(GS 1-GS 4) Carries plethora of topics from history ,geography ,polity ,women empowerment . One such topic is International relations. International relations is the study of the relations of states with each other and with international organizations and certain subnational entities (e.g., bureaucracies, political parties, and interest groups). This subject also finds its place in one of the optional subjects of UPSC civil services . Questions from the topic are mostly asked in GS 2 paper of the mains. However, GS 2 covers topics mainly from governance and polity ,but questions worth 100 mark’s are asked from International relations. This subject finds its relevance in current affairs and government foreign policies . Topics from this subject are an inevitable part of GS Preparation.

What is the defined syllabus for International Relations?

India & Neighbouring Countries

India – Nepal Relations

India and Bhutan

Indo-Afghan Bilateral Relations

India-Bangladesh Relations

India-Maldives Relations

India-Sri Lanka Relations

India-Myanmar Relations

Indo-Pak Relations

Indo-China Relations

South China Sea Dispute

Security Challenges in the Indian Ocean Region

India & Asian Nation Relations

CIS Countries of Central Asia


India – UAE Relations

India – IRAN

India – ISRAEL

India – Saudi Arabia

Asia-Pacific Region

India-South East Asia

Indo-Japan Bilateral Relationship

India – South Korea


India & Other Nations & Organizations

India and Africa

Indo-Australia Relationship




India-USA Relations

The World Trade Organization

International Monetary Fund

Nuclear Security Summit





Relevance of Non-Alignment in present India

India-ASEAN Economic Cooperation

What is the booklist for the exam ? Are NCERT books enough to prepare? Do we have to refer to advanced books? Is newspaper reading essential for this topic?

 International relations is a very vast and dynamic subject .Due to correlation with current topics of national and international development newspaper reading for the same becomes important . However you must always study NCERT  first to form the base and demand of the subject. Below is the booklist for the subject one would refer while preparing for ease of understanding

  • India’s Foreign Policy Since Independence by V.P. Dutt
  • Pax Indica by Shashi Tharoor
  • Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy – Rajeev Sikri
  • India’s Foreign Policy: Coping with the Changing World – Muchkund Dubey

What should be the strategy for the subject? How to make notes ? How much time should we devote to the subject?

  1. Mind map the syllabus : Syllabus is the backbone for any subject of UPSC preparation . One must always keep a copy of the syllabus handy. Due to its complex and dynamic nature, studying it topic wise becomes important ,as it saves much of our time and also saves us from unnecessary information. 
  1. Read Ncert : Importance of Ncert cannot be undermined. Ncert is not only for this subject but for the whole preparation of civil services. You should always finish off with the information first to have a crisp knowledge of the subject.
  2. Make precise and accurate notes: Note making for the subject is essential as it eases out our last minute hassle . Make your note after understanding the subject . Don’t  make notes on your very first reading . Give yourself time to read and understand the demand.
  3. Solve previous year paper: Regularly solving previous year papers. Now, the most important part is to expect the questions you may get in the exam and prepare the answers accordingly. This comes with solving the previous year’s papers. It will allow you to have a first-hand understanding of how the questions are asked. Thus, you’ll be able to better prepare the answers that may be asked from this topic.

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