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Syllabus of PSIR Paper - I

Political Theory and Indian Politics:

  1. Political Theory: meaning and approaches.
  2. Theories of state: Liberal, Neo-liberal, 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; Concept of Human Rights.
  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: Dharmashastra, 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 Government and Politics
    (a) Political Strategies of India’s Freedom Struggle: Constitutionalism to mass Satyagraha, Noncooperation, 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. (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; Significance of 73rd and 74th Amendments; Grassroot movements.
  6. Statutory Institutions/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; 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 Movement: Civil liberties and human rights movements; women’s movements; environmentalist movements.

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Syllabus of PSIR Paper - II

Comparative Politics and International Relations
Comparative Political Analysis and International Politics: 

  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. Globalisation: 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; Transational actors and collective security; World capitalist economy and globalisation.
  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) 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: EU, ASEAN, APEC, AARC, NAFTA.
  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; the 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 crises in Afghanistan, Iraq, and West Asia, growing relations with US and Israel; Vision of a new world order.

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Previous Year UPSC Questions

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2023 2022 2021 2020
2019 2018 2017



  1. Comment on the following in about 150 words each :
    a). Normative approach in Political Science
    b). Multicultural perspective on rights
    c). State of Nature as State of War (Hobbes)
    d). Foucault's concept of power
    e). Decline of political theory
  2. Answer the following:
    a). Success of contemporary democracies lies in the State limiting its own power. Explain.
    b). Rawls' idea of the 'liberal self' is too individualistic- Explain,in this context, the communitarian critique of Rawls' theory of justice.
    c). 'Credo of Relevance' in post-behaviouralism advocates the importance of action science. Analyse.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Fascism displays an ambivalent stance towards parliamentary democracy. Explain.
    b). Affirmative Action Policies draw as much strong criticism as strong support. Analyze this statement in the context of equality.
    c). Eurocentrism is both the target and the motive force of the post-colonial political theory. Discuss.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). Buddhist thought on Dhamma facilitates the emancipation of political action. Explain.
    b). "The legal subordination of one señ to another is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human development. (J. S. Mill). Comment.
    c). Sri Aurobindo's idea of Swaraj has deep significance in the Indian social, political and cultural history. Analyse.


  1. Comment on the following in about 150 words each.
    a). Imprint of the British Constitution on the Indian Constitution
    b). Environmentalism of the poor
    c). Functions of District Planning Committee
    d). Satyagraha and Indian Nationalism
    e). National Commission for Minorities
  2. Answer the following:
    a). Discuss the major provisions of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act. Do you think that the Act remains an "unfulfilled dream"? Argue your case.
    b). How does NITI Aayog as a 'policy think tank with shared vision' visualise the reorganisation of planning in India\ Justify your answer.
    c). The Constitution of India is the 'cornerstone of a nation'. (Granville Austin). Analyse.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Does the actual working of Indian federalism conform to the centralising tendencies in Indian polity? Give reasons for your answer.
    b). The main goal of the Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution is to generate civic responsibility among the citizens. Explain.
    c). Dr. Ambedkar's clarion call, "Educate, Agitate and Organise", strategizes the Dalit movement towards achieving civil liberty. Discuss.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). The rise of caste politics is to be attributed to both regional aspirations and electoral manifestations. Comment.
    b). The decade 1989-1999 has created an epochal shift in the Indian party system at the national level. Identify the major national trends in the party system during this era.
    c). Do you agree that over the years the Supreme Court has become a forum for policy evolution? Justify your answer.



  1. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each :
    a). What are the crucial functions of empirical political theory in Comparative Politics?
    b). What are the difficulties faced by a political theorist in comparing the States?
    c). How does democratic politics construct citizenship?
    d). What is the structure and functions of the International Court of Justice?
    e). Discuss the structure and functions of the UN Security Council.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). Discuss the relevance of the normative ethos of the Non Aligned Movement in magnifying India's soft power in pursuit of her national interest.
    b). In what ways does the functionalist approach in International relations help in maintaining peace and order in global politics?
    c). How does the regime change and political crisis in Myanmar threaten regional security and peace?
  3. Answer the following:
    a). "During the Cold War, the Non-Aligned Movement tried to become a "Third force" in World Politics, but failed because it was too large and unwieldy. Discuss.
    b). Account for the rise of the European Union as a highly influential regional organisation.
    c). Narrate the various ways in which rapid environmental degradation is posing a serious threat to human security. Illustrate your answer with suitable examples.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). Critically examine the impact of Globalisation on the developing countries of the world.
    b). What do you mean by offensive and defensive realism?
    c). Discuss the various constraints on American hegemony today- Which of these are likely to become more prominent in the future?


  1. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each :
    a). Explain the major features of India's Foreign Policy in the 21st century.
    b). What are the reasons for lack of 'regionness' in South Asia?
    c). Why is the compromise reached at WTO regarding the Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing not a Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver?
    d). Why do ethnic conflicts and insurgencies continue to remain major impediments to regional cooperation in South Asia?
    e). What diplomatic steps has India taken to articulate the interests of the Global South in International Politics?
  2. Answer the following:
    a). Arms trade, economic ties and congruent geo-political interests are no longer the three pillars of India & Russia relationship in the emerging strategic context. Comment.
    b). Discuss the importance of India's role in UN peacekeeping operations as a ground for its claim to a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
    c). Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) performs an important role in India's strategic balancing act to withstand the dominance of China in Asia. Discuss.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). "India's Nuclear policy is deeply influenced by its cultural beliefs and the pragmatic approach of its foreign policy." Discuss.
    b). What steps has India taken to regain its foothold in Afghanistan since the Taliban has taken over the country in August 2021?
    c). What are the challenges and limitations in India-Iran relations?
  4. Answer the following:
    a). What are the eñternal determinants of the Foreign Policy of a State?
    b). Discuss the significance of "West Asia Quad" in the light of India's 'Look West' policy.
    c). Discuss the major drivers of India's interests in Africa.

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