A Complete Strategy for Political Science for UPSC

A Complete Strategy for Political Science for UPSC

A Complete Strategy for Political Science for UPSC

UPSC aspirants are advised to take up political science as an optional subject to make the battle easier for them. The reasons for choosing political science are mentioned below:

A Complete Strategy for Political Science for UPSC

A Complete Strategy for Political Science for UPSC

UPSC aspirants are advised to take up political science as an optional subject to make the battle easier for them. The reasons for choosing political science are mentioned below:

  • Indian polity and constitution is a very crucial segment for the preliminary examination. So taking up political science as an optional subject can help you in answering prelims Indian policy-related questions too.
  • Since this is a non-technical subject, the UPSC aspirants can comprehend and study by themselves even if they are not much aware of the subject. Anybody who is a regular newspaper reader can understand the topic
  • When you are preparing for the prelims examination, the gearing up for mains examination also goes on. So, being an integrated part of both prelims and mains examination, if you have political science as an optional subject, this will save your time for other topics.
  • The easy availability of study materials and notes has also made political science a worthy choice as an optional subject for UPSC.

Now coming to the discussion of the complete strategy for political science for UPSC aspirants-

Before starting the preparation, one should go through the whole syllabus thoroughly and break it into sections. Try to achieve conceptual clarity to answer no matter how tricky the questions are.


The paper is a huge one covering many aspects of Indian politics.  Try to divide into some segments that will not only drive your interest to study but also will clear your concepts-

  1. Political theory meaning and approaches
  2. Theories of the state: Liberal, Neoliberal, Marxist, Pluralist, Post-colonial and feminist.
  3. Justice: Conceptions of justice with special reference to Rawl’s theory of justice and its communitarian critiques.
  4. Equality: Social, political and economic; the relationship between equality and freedom; Affirmative action.
  5. Rights: Meaning and theories; different kinds of rights; the concept of Human Rights.
  6. 6.Democracy: Classical and contemporary theories; different models of democracy - representative, participatory and deliberative.
  7. Concept of power, hegemony, ideology, and legitimacy.
  8. Political Ideologies: Liberalism, Socialism, Marxism, Fascism, Gandhism, and Feminism.
  9. Indian Political Thought: Dharamshastra, Arthashastra, and Buddhist traditions; Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Sri Aurobindo, M.K. Gandhi, B.R. Ambedkar, M.N. Roy.
  10. Western Political Thought: Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, John, S. Mill, Marx, Gramsci, Hannah Arendt.

Indian Government and politics

1. Indian Nationalism:

a. Political Strategies of India’s Freedom struggle: constitutionalism to mass Satyagraha, Non-cooperation, Civil Disobedience; militant and revolutionary movements, Peasant and workers’ movements.

b. Perspectives on Indian National Movement: Liberal, Socialist, and Marxist; Radical humanist and Dalit.

2. Making of the Indian Constitution: Legacies of the British rule; different social and political perspectives.

3. Salient Features of the Indian Constitution:

The Preamble, Fundamental Rights and Duties, Directive Principles; Parliamentary System and Amendment Procedures; Judicial Review and Basic Structure doctrine.

4. Principal Organs

a. Principal Organs of the Union Government: Envisaged role and actual working of the Executive, Legislature and Supreme Court.

b. Principal Organs of the State Government: Envisaged role and actual working of the Executive, Legislature and High Courts.

5. Grassroots Democracy:

Panchayati Raj and Municipal Government; the significance of 73rd and 74th Amendments; Grassroot movements.

6. Statutory Insti tut ions/Commissions:

Election Commission, Comptroller and Auditor General, Finance Commission, Union Public Service Commission, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Women; National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Minorities, National Backward Classes Commission.

7. Federalism:

Constitutional provisions; changing nature of center-state relations; integrationist tendencies and regional aspirations; inter-state disputes. 

8. Planning and Economic Development:

Nehruvian and Gandhian perspectives; the role of planning and public sector; Green Revolution, land reforms and agrarian relations; liberalization and economic reforms.

9. Caste, Religion, and Ethnicity in Indian Politics.

10. Party System:

National and regional political parties, ideological and social bases of parties; patterns of coalition politics; Pressure groups, trends in electoral behavior; changing socio-economic profile of Legislators.

11. Social Movements:

Civil liberties and human rights movements; women's movements; environmentalist movements

PAPER-II: Comparative Politics and International Relations

1. Comparative Politics:

Nature and major approaches; political economy and political sociology perspectives; limitations of the comparative method.

2.State in comparative perspective:

Characteristics and changing nature of the State in capitalist and socialist economies, and, advanced industrial and developing societies.

3. Politics of Representation and Participation:

Political parties, pressure groups, and social movements in advanced industrial and developing societies.

4. Globalization:

Responses from developed and developing societies.

5. Approaches to the Study of International Relations:

Idealist, Realist, Marxist, Functionalist and Systems theory.

6. Key concepts in International Relations:

National interest, Security and power; Balance of power and deterrence; Transnational actors and collective security; World capitalist economy and globalization.

7. Changing International Political Order:

a. Rise of superpowers; strategic and ideological Bipolarity, arms race and Cold War; nuclear threat;

b. Non-aligned movement: Aims and achievements;

c. The collapse of the Soviet Union; Unipolarity and American hegemony; relevance of non-alignment in the contemporary world.

8. Evolution of the International Economic System:

From Bretton woods to WTO; Socialist economies and the CMEA (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance); Third World demand for new international economic order; Globalisation of the world economy.

9. United Nations:

Envisaged role and actual record; specialized UN agencies-aims and functioning; the need for UN reforms.

10. Regionalisation of World Politics:


11. Contemporary Global Concerns:

Democracy, human rights, environment, gender justice, terrorism, nuclear proliferation. 

India and the World:

1. Indian Foreign Policy:

Determinants of foreign policy; institutions of policy-making; continuity and change.

2. India's Contribution to the Non-Alignment Movement:

Different phases; current role

3. India and South Asia:

a. Regional Co-operation: SAARC – past performance and future prospects.

b. South Asia as a Free Trade Area.

c. India's "Look East" policy.

d. Impediments to regional co-operation: river water disputes; illegal cross-border migration; ethnic conflicts and insurgencies; border disputes.

4. India and the Global South:

Relations with Africa and Latin America; leadership role in the demand for NIEO and WTO negotiations.

5. India and the Global Centres of Power:

USA, EU, Japan, China, and Russia.

6. India and the UN System:

Role in UN Peace-keeping; demand for Permanent Seat in the Security Council.

7. India and the Nuclear Question:

Changing perceptions and policy.

8. Recent developments in Indian Foreign policy:

India's position on the recent crisis in Afghanistan, Iraq and West Asia, growing relations with the US and Israel; the vision of new world order.

Once you are done with the entire syllabus, do revise them frequently. Repeated revisions and practice do wonders for your preparation. Try to solve the previous ten years' question papers and seek help from your mentors and friends whenever you have doubts. Regularly evaluate your work.

An additional tip:

Current affairs and newspaper reading:

The newspaper is written for everybody and you do not need to read every bit of it. Find out your study material from the newspaper. Pick up the topics that have long term perspectives in terms of time and connects to a large number of people. And most importantly, see if it is connected to the syllabus. Do make a newspaper reading a habit since it is the best source to remain updated with information regarding developments in India and the world. 


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