Civil Services GS Paper 2 – International Relations : Resources, Preparation Tips And Important Topics

Civil Services International Relations GS Paper II is a very active topic in the UPSC Mains Exam. Though the approach to tackling this section is not so difficult, it should be appropriately handled to fetch the maximum marks.

Resources for the International Relations Topics

It would be best if you focused on the current Head of the State visits to and from India, path-breaking agreements, roadblocks in relations, etc.

  • Newspaper – Not the daily coverage of 4 or 5-day visit but just read the editorials written by experts at the end of the stay.
  • Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses website – They analyze IR with some excellent articles, so visit the site once in a week.
  • India’s world on RSTV – A weekly show and the discussions cover all essential aspects of IR

Preparation Tips for the Civil Services International Relations GS Paper II

  • Read the newspaper and understand with which country India has any deal or partnership. Then, from Wikipedia, read India’s relations with those countries – right from history to present. Prepare short e-notes and write only essential points.
  • Read Pax Indica by Shashi Tharoor to add more points in that same doc file. But read this book only if you have time. Else you can leave.
  • Note down the current happenings going on in the same e-notes.

Remember to prepare separate files for separate countries, like India-Pakistan, India-China, India-USA — all should have different doc files.

  • You can also refer to the  website to add some more essential points. We like the updates given on this website.
  • Connect International Relations now with World History topics like World War 1, World War 2, Unification of Germany, Cold War, etc. This will give you a unified look at how the current scenario’s relations are affected by the past.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and affecting India’s interests.
  • India and its neighborhood- relations,
  • Prestigious International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
  • Effect of the policies and the politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  • Finally, do as much as answer writing practice. This is an essential activity to do and should never be skipped at any cost.

Important Topics of the General Studies Paper II

  • Foreign Policy Architecture
  • Strategic Autonomy
  • Soft Power
  • Dynamics of Foreign Policy
  • India’s Role in the Future
  • Nuclear Doctrine
  • Big Brother
  • Historical Events in International Relations
  • Systemic Challenges

Textual Resources

  • Foreign Policy Architecture
  • Strategic Autonomy
  • Soft Power
  • Dynamics of Foreign Policy
  • India’s Role in the Future
  • Nuclear Doctrine
  • Big Brother
  • Historical Events in International Relations
  • Systemic Challenges

Tips in Preparing for the Civil Services International Relations GS Paper II

  • It depends on the objective of preparing International Relations. For General Studies, international relations questions are asked in a dynamic way which can be covered by reading a newspaper and a few theoretical concepts.
  • Read about the post-1947 Doctrines related to India’s Foreign Policy like Panchsheel, look east, Look West, etc.
  • Cover a few evergreen topics like India’s Foreign Nuclear Policy, Permanent Seat in UNSC, Role of United Nations, and other international agencies. Reforms in International Organizations like the IMF, WB, UNSC, etc.
  • Geopolitical perspective is also essential, like the South China Sea, Sagarmala project, Chabahar Port, CPEC, and Ring Pearl, Modern Silk Route. North-South Corridor, BBIN Agreement, Kaladan Multimodal Project, India-Myanmar-Thailand Highway.
  • Multilateral Agreements like TPP, TTIP, RCEP, NAFTA, SAFTA, MERCOSUR, SCO, etc. are also
  • significant. India’s vital relationships with some influential countries like-  the US, Russia, UK, and France.
  • With some other countries, like-Japan, China, Israel, Canada, and all the SAARC countries. The focus and attention should be more on the events in the news.

For the Optional paper of International Relations (PSIR), the dynamic portion is covered in the same manner as above. Still, the static part is equally important and even more important than the active piece.

  • Act East Policy has come into the picture, but UPSC is still asking Look East Policy.
  • They still ask traditional questions like the Impact of Globalization and Liberalism on Indian farmers, cultures, and Indian Politics.
  • There are a few evergreen topics that are asked time and again by using different wordings.
  • Reading popular books like Rajiv Sikri, VN Khanna, Andrew Heywood can bring good marks in this portion of the optional.


Preparing for the International Relations UPSC Civil Services GS II Paper can be daunting. If you’re not sure where to start, our article has provided the resources you can go through as well as some tips to help you get high marks on you GS II Paper.

Areas covered in this article

  • Preparation strategy and materials for International relations of UPSC CSE GS Paper II
  • Topics for International Relations

Related Links

Learn more about Civil Services and State PSC Exams.

This post was last updated on October 31st, 2021 at 10:51 am




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