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International Relations is an interesting topic with  50 marks  worth questions in GS II in CS Mains. Although it is interesting to read,...

International Relation

International Relations is an interesting topic with 50 marks worth questions in GS II in CS Mains. Although it is interesting to read, the amount of material can be very extensive if we try to cover the syllabus in its entirety-
  • India and its neighborhood- 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.
  • Regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests
  • Important International institutions, agencies, and fora, their structure, mandate.
As can be seen, almost any major/minor international event can be included in this syllabus. Therefore for a non-PSIR optional candidate its important to have selected readings on basic static portion and recent international current affairs only.
The syllabus has two components.
  • Static- UN Organs, WTO, BRICS, ASEAN, SCO, Conflicts (Israel- Palestine, Korean Peninsula), Commonwealth, NAM, etc
  • Dynamic- Bilateral issues (with China, US, EU, Africa, Japan, etc), emerging international challenges (Trade war, Iran sanctions, issues with Chemical Weapon Convention, Terrorism, etc), recent issues in Static portion related topics eg impact of US withdrawal from UNESCO.
Many non PSIR candidates simply prepare for the dynamic part from current affairs booklet by coaching classes thus ignoring the static part completely. This should be avoided as questions are asked from both topics (question related to ECOSOC in 2017, WTO in 2018).
For preparing static portion one can simply glimpse through ‘About Us’ page of various organizations eg., Wikipedia, newspaper articles, etc. Also selected reading of textbooks for UN organs can be done.
For dynamic portion follow the happenings over the past two years that capture Indian news space eg, French President visiting India, JCPOA issue, PM visiting Israel, Japan, Belt and Road Initiative-CPEC, etc.

How to Study International Relations for UPSC Exam?

This topic contains more dynamic than static portions. It is important to keep abreast of the latest happenings with respect to India and her relations with other countries in the world, to prepare suitable notes for this topic.
For your convenience, while preparing for these topics from the UPSC syllabus, we have divided it into sections.
India’s international relations based on location:
  • India and neighbors (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, China, and Nepal)
  • India and various organizations (UN, G20, ASEAN, GCC, IMF, EU, World Bank, etc.)
  • India and the different regions (The Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe, etc.)
  • India and the rich nations (Australia, Japan, USA, etc.)
  • India and the 5 UNSC members (USA, France, China, Russia, and UK )
India’s foreign policy during the different phases:
  • Post-independence
  • Cold war
  • Non-alignment
  • Wartime with Pakistan and China
  • Fall of the USSR
  • Post 9/11
  • Current events
When you start reading the IR study material, you must begin by reading about:
  • The basic philosophy underlying international relations.
  • Evolution of the foreign policy of India.
  • Major changes in the world in the last few decades and how India has been affected by those changes.
  • Role of India in the major international organizations.
In bilateral relations, you must focus on:
  • India – neighbours
  • India – USA
  • India – Russia
  • India – China
In every relationship, look for the following:
  • Historical relations
  • Economic relations
  • Contemporary issues
  • Areas of confrontation
  • Landmark agreements or movements
  • Way to the future
  • Unique opportunities or challenges
  • Indian diaspora
In the IR portions, you must be able to write analytically. You should also be able to predict the future in some respects. Therefore, it is important that you keep reading newspapers and other magazines focusing on the issues pertaining to foreign policy and relations. 
The study material for international relations for IAS exam:
  • Official Website of the Ministry of External Affairs
  • Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) Website
  • Newspaper editorials on relevant topics

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