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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

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2021 2020 2019 2018



  1. Answer the following:
    a). Feminist critique of the State.
    b). Affirmative action.
    c). Equality of outcome as a political idea.
    d). Tools of legitimating of the State.
    e). J. S. Mill's ideas on women suffrage.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). How has Rawls enriched the idea of justice in liberalism?
    b). Examine the importance of behavioral approach in political theory. What led to its decline?
    c). Can there be a universal conception of human rights? Give your arguments.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Explain the Aristotelian view of politics. To what extent do you think it has contributed to the development of modern-day constitutional democracies?
    b). “When a nation becomes devoid of arts and learning, it invites poverty.” (Sir Syed Ahmad Khan). In the light of this statement, assess the role of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan as a reformer in modern India.
    c). Political ideology is primarily concerned with the allocation and utilization of Power.” Comment.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). Do you think that the Buddhist traditions have lent greater ethical foundation to the ancient Indian political thought? Give your arguments.
    b). Marx's concept of 'alienation' is an essential part of the reality in capitalism. Explain.
    c). Free and fair deliberation is key to the foundation of democracy.” Explain.


  1. Answer the following:
    a). “The Constitution of India is a product of a historical process, rich with constitutional antecedents.” Comment.
    b). “The Constitution makers faced the great task of forging a common national identity in the face of unparalleled social and cultural diversity in India.” Comment.
    c). Mention the founding principles that define India's Constitution.
    d). Analyze the Marxist perspective of the nature of Indian National Movement.
    e). Underline the significance of the first constitutional amendment.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). "Constitutionally reconciling the Fundamental Rights with the Directive Principles of State Policy has led to frequent amendments of the Constitution and judicial interventions." Comment.
    b). The role of the President of India becomes more significant during a minority government and a coalition government. Explain.
    c). Do you think that despite having significant limitations the Panchayati Raj institutions have strengthened the process of democratic decentralization? Give your views.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). "The Indian party system is shaped by a complex interaction of the country's federal structure, electoral system and social cleavages.” Explain.
    b). Do you think that there has been a gradual shift in the basis on which the demands for the creation of new States have been raised in different regions of India? Explain.
    c). What explains India's modest improvements in social development outcomes even as the rate of growth has accelerated since the initiation of economic reforms?
  4. Answer the following:
    a). The success of electoral democracy can partly be attributed to the status and role of the Election Commission of India.” Explain.
    b). Examine the evolution of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India as a Constitutional Court.
    c). Explain how caste as a social category is also becoming a political category in the democratic politics of India.



  1. Answer the following:
    a). Discuss the political economic approach to the comparative analysis of politics.
    b). “Political parties and pressure groups are sine qua none of democracy." Comment.
    c). “Marxist approach to the study of international relations has lost its relevance in the post-cold war era.” Comment.
    d). What measures have been undertaken by the United Nations for its reforms?
    e). Discuss the five proposals made by India in the recent COP-26 conference held in Glasgow.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). “The post-colonial state was thought of as an entity that stood outside and above society as an autonomous agency.” Explain.
    b). Discuss the emergence of neo-realism and its basic tenets
    c). What is ‘complex interdependence'? Discuss the role of transnational actors in the international system.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Explain the impact of electoral systems and cleavages in shaping party systems with reference to developing countries.
    b). What is globalisation ? Why is there an intense debate about globalisation and its consequences?
    c). Critically examine the decline of the United States of America as a hegemon and its implications for the changing international political order.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). The modernization thesis asserts that affluence breeds stable democracy. How do you explain the success of India being the world's largest democracy as an exceptional case?
    b). Explain the success of ASEAN as a regional organisation.
    c). Explain India's relations with the European Union in the context of Brexit.


  1. Answer the following:
    a). Discuss the strategic implications of India's 'Look East Policy' transforming into 'Act East Policy'.
    b). Explain the philosophical foundations of India's foreign policy.
    c). Explain India’s position on the waiver of intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines in WTO.
    d). Write about the growing significance of QUAD.
    e). How does the recent takeover of Afghanistan by Taliban impact India's strategic interests?
  2. Answer the following:
    a). “Non-alignment was little more than a rational strategy on the part of a materially weak India to maximize its interests with a bipolar distribution of global power.” Comment.
    b). Examine the Geo-strategic points of contention in the bilateral relationship between India and China.
    c). Write a brief analysis of the ethnic conflicts and cross-border migrations along India-Myanmar and India-Bangladesh borders.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Why is South Asia considered as the world's politically and economically least integrated region? Explain.
    b). How do the constituent states influence the foreign policy making process in India?
    c). Examine the evolution of India's role in the global nuclear order.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). “Relations between India and Russia are rooted in history mutual trust/and mutually beneficial cooperation.' Discuss.
    b). Discuss the “Sustainable Development Goals' as set by the United Nations.
    c). Identify the drivers of India's new interest in Africa.

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