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How to Read International Relations for UPSC IAS
International Relations (IR) is the most dynamic and challenging subject in the UPSC and IAS preparation. It is the part of UPSC Mains syllabus– General Studies Paper II. This subject is unavoidable as every year UPSC asked questions of around 100 marks in General Studies Paper-II.
Why this subject is important: International Relations for UPSC helps us to understand evolution of India’s foreign policy, India’s relations with other countries in the world, changes happening in international arena and India’s roles and responsibilities (COVID-19 Situation and India’s support to its neighbor through Vaccine Maitri Initiative), roles and responsibilities of India towards major international organization.
In this article we will discuss about the study approach of International Relations for UPSC which includes overview of the syllabus, plan to read International Relations, how to make notes, what all are important for International Relations and International Affairs.
Approach towards International Relations for UPSC: The most difficult question for all the UPSC aspirants is how to read International Relations so that they can understand the subject and score well in the exam. The answer lies in the term itself. International Relations simply means India’s relations with major countries in the world (including neighboring countries). So, students must try to understand India’s relations, its roles and responsibilities towards the world.
- Read the syllabus:Before starting the subject, you must have the command over the UPSC Mains syllabus for International Relations. You should refer the syllabus word by word, line by line. This will create the foundation.
|UPSC Mains- General Studies Paper II||· International relations|
· Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
· India and its neighborhood- relations
· Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate
· Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
· Indian diaspora
- Refer Previous Years’ UPSC Mains Question Paper: Unlike other subjects, where it is recommended to complete one reading of the syllabus, then refer the previous years’ questions, different strategies work for International Relations. In this subject, you must see the past year’s questions before starting your study. Those questions will give you great knowledge about the nature and demand of the questions. It will also help you in your newspaper reading.
- Read one newspaper daily: Newspaper will give you knowledge about current events in the world. International Relations for UPSC is a dynamic topic. Newspaper will help you in preparing India’s foreign policy. The Hindu is one of the best newspapers which covers in details India’s relations with other nations. It also strengthens the different perspective of India towards the current happenings and what steps India should take as a world leader to improve the relations. Columns of The Hindu cover these topics in details. Ultimately, the analytical skills of the students will increase and gradually their answers will also improve. The demand of the UPSC in International Relations subject is that, aspirants should think like a diplomat. Daily newspaper reading will give you that skill.
- Build the foundation:If you will study International Relations for UPSC without knowing the background like events that took place after independence era, the cold war and non-alignment time, Wars between India and Pakistan and China and Pakistan, Fall of the USSR, incident of 9/11 and what all happened after that, then you will not be able to understand why such things are happening now, reasons behind them. Knowing background will help you to co-relate the news.
- Notes making from the newspaper:Notes making is unavoidable in case of International Relations. But here is trick. You cannot simply write down in your copy what all are important for International Relations for UPSC. You should make notes country wise. For example, if there is news regarding Bilateral relations between India and USA, then you must make comprehensive notes of it. It should include background, economic relations, cultural relations, defense relations, opportunities and challenges for India. Likewise, they should cover all counties’ bilateral relations with India. International Relations also mean bilateral relations between two major countries of the world. For example, USA and Russia. So, you should also put focus on news related to that and make notes for that.
- Refer one good monthly current affairs magazine:It is very important to read one monthly current affairs magazine. Sometimes, we miss some topics in the newspaper or we fail to understand what article is trying to tell us. It happens with most of us because of the tedious language the author use. Current affairs magazine of a good institute covers all the news and articles and explain that in simple language. It becomes easy for students to read and revise them.
- Miscellaneous sources to refer: You can refer frontline magazine. Official Website of The Ministry of External Affairs is also very helpful. Pax Indica – Shashi Tharoor, India’s Foreign Policy: Coping With The Changing World – Muchkund Dubey are good books on foreign policy. You can read them if possible.
- Some important topics: These topics you must cover thoroughly and make notes on those topics.
- India and its relations with its neighbors like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, China, Sri Lanka, and Nepal
- India’s opportunities and contribution to various organizations including the United Nations, ASEAN, G20, G7, GCC, EU, World Bank, IMF, SAARC, etc.
- Relationship between India and other international regions like Central Asia, USA, Middle East, Africa, Europe, Russia etc.
- India’s relations with the affluent nations of the world, like Germany, Japan, USA, etc.
- India and the 5 UNSC members i.e., USA, China, France, Russia and UK.
- Cover important organizations: You must cover important organizations which are important from the India’s perspective. Some of them are:
- United Nations
- International Monetary Fund
- World Health Organization
- World Bank
- European Union
- League of Nations
- G7 etc.
- Answer writing practice:Once you understand the subject, you should immediately start writing answers on a daily basis. In starting you can write answers of past years’ questions. And gradually you can speed up the process. Daily practice will increase the quality and areas covered. The more dynamic your answers will be, the more marks you will get.
- Revise the notes properly and keep updating that: It is important to revise the notes prepared by notes regularly. Along with that, you should also update the notes according to happenings in the world. For example, India’s role as a leader during COVID-19 pandemic.
In all your preparation journey of International Relations for UPSC, you must think like a diplomat try to increase the dimensions as much as possible. It will help you in your answer writing.