How to Prepare International Relations for UPSC Mains

International relations (IR) in the GS Paper II of UPSC Mains is one of the dynamic sections that require a detailed and thorough understanding during the UPSC exam preparation.

It is crucial for aspirants to keep up with all the recent events and developments over the world, especially concerning India, to get an edge in exam preparation.

In this article, we will discuss how you can prepare for IR effectively and score well in it.

Syllabus for International Relations

IR questions in the GS Paper II are from the below-mentioned topics:

  • 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.

Important Topics of International Relations

TopicSubtopic
India & Neighbouring CountriesIndia – Nepal Relations
India and Bhutan Relations
Indo-Afghan Bilateral Relations
India-Bangladesh Relations
India-Maldives Relations
India-Sri Lanka Relations
India-Myanmar Relations
Indo-Pakistan Relations
Indo-China Relations
South China Sea Dispute
Security Challenges in the Indian Ocean Region
India & Asian Nation RelationsCIS Countries of Central Asia
India-Mongolia Relations
India – UAE Relations
India – Iran Relations
India – Israel Relations
India – Saudi Arabia Relations
Asia-Pacific Region
India-South East Asia
Indo-Japan Bilateral Relationship
India – South Korea Relations
India-Vietnam Relations
India & Other Nations & OrganizationsIndia and Africa Relations
Indo-Australia Relations
Indo-France Relations
Indo-Germany Relations
Indo-UK Relations
India-USA Relations
The World Trade Organization
International Monetary Fund
Nuclear Security Summit
BRICS
BIMSTEC
IBSA
SAARC
Relevance of Non-Alignment in present India
India-ASEAN Economic Cooperation

Also read: Recommended books for UPSC Mains Preparation

The Approach required for IR Preparation

Since the IR section is a mixture of static and dynamic topics, one should approach IR preparation based on the following parameters.

When reading the IR material, you should begin with reading about:

  • Fundamental philosophy underlying International Relations
  • The foreign policy of India- Its Evolution namely: First phase- Era of optimistic non-alignment, Second Phase- Decade of realism and recovery, Third phase- Indian Regional Assertion, Fourth phase- The dissolution of the USSR and the emergence of a “unipolar” world, Fifth phase- India gradually acquiring the attributes of balancing power.
  • Major changes in the world in the last few decades and how they have affected India.
  • India’s role in the major international organizations.

Preparation Strategy for International Relations- UPSC Mains

Preparation for the IR can be a daunting task if you don’t have a well-curated study plan and an effective strategy. Though the approach to tackling this section is not so difficult, it should be appropriately handled to fetch the maximum marks. We have compiled a list of simple tips that will assist you in the IR preparation.

Understand the Syllabus Well

Be well-versed with the IR syllabus in order to study well for the exam. Having a basic and clear idea of the syllabus will help you to prepare effectively and save you crucial time for the revision.

Also read: How to Write Good Quality Answers for UPSC Mains

Analyze India’s Relationship with other countries on various dimensions

Every relationship of India with foreign countries, you should look for the following aspects:

  • Historical Relations
  • Economic Relations
  • Geopolitical Relations
  • Strategic Relations
  • Technological Relations
  • Educational/Cultural Relations
  • Areas of Confrontation
  • Contemporary Issues
  • Landmark Agreements
  • Unique opportunities/challenges
  • Indian Diaspora

While structuring your answer, make sure it reflects the aforementioned dimensions to make the answer more appealing. 

Refer to Previous year’s Question Papers

Previous year question papers are the best way to analyze the type of questions asked in the exam. It is recommended to refer to them as they give valuable insights into the exam pattern. You can also attempt all the previous years’ questions (From 2013-2020) available on the PrepLadder app with solutions to give an edge to your exam preparation. 

Make Short and Concise notes

Making short notes will make your exam preparation more convenient as International Relations is a dynamic topic of the UPSC Mains. Moreover, it is current affairs driven, hence it is recommended to read newspapers, standard textbooks, and the official website of external affairs to make notes.

Revise Frequently

Since there is so much to retain in International Relations, such as various foreign policies and treaties, it is natural for any aspirant to get confused. So that you don’t end up getting confused, we would recommend you revise the IR syllabus from time to time to retain information for a longer period.

It is always a wise idea to seek assistance from the experts for a better understanding of the subject and get your doubts cleared. India’s renowned educator for International Relations, M.Puri will help you to learn and understand IR with utmost ease. He is a member of the DREAM TEAM for UPSC on PrepLadder, the most comprehensive learning resource for Civil Services aspirants.

On PrepLadder you will find everything you need to ace the UPSC exam.

This includes concise, effective, and well-planned video lectures by our Dream Team for UPSC, a well-structured and high yield QBank, highly competitive PrepTests based on real exam patterns, and Previous Year Papers in the form of tests.

So, what are you waiting for? Start your Civil Services Exam preparation with PrepLadder and enjoy quality learning like never before.  

All the best for your exam. Stay tuned to ourTelegram Channel for more updates. 

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Raminder Singh

Raminder is a Content Writer at PrepLadder. He is working to provide students with informative articles and the latest updates about UPSC and GATE exams.