1. Why should I prepare International Affairs?
  2. Step 1: Gather the material
  3. Step 2: Prepare the Mental Framework
  4. How to approach the Dynamic portion?
  5. Supplimentary Reading
  6. Appendix: Official Syllabus

Why should I prepare International Affairs?

  1. Because in UPSC General Studies Mains (Paper II), they ask questions worth more than 100 marks, from this topic.
  2. In the Essay paper, they regulary ask essays directly or indirectly related to Globalization and International relations.
  3. For the interview.

Step 1: Gather the material

IGNOU Political science module MPSE-001 India and the World (Click me).
That pdf file set contains pretty much all the essential information necessary to cover the static/historic portion of India’s foreign relations after independence.

Step 2: Prepare the Mental Framework

In your head, visualize following. What exactly are you supposed to prepare?

Based on Location

  1. India and her neighbours (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Sri-Lanka, Nepal and China)
  2. India and the regions (South America, Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, Europe and so on.)
  3. India and the big 5 UNSC members (USA, China, France, Russia and UK )
  4. India and Economically powerful nations (Australia, Japan, S.Africa, Brazil, UAE etc)
  5. India and Organizations (UN, ASEAN, G20, GCC, EU, IMF, World Bank etc.)

India’s interaction with the world can also be classifed into following phases

Based on Phases

  1. Post-independence NAM/ Panchsheel Era
  2. During the Wars with Pakistan and China
  3. Atomic Bomb test
  4. Cold War
  5. Fall of USSR and LPG reforms in 1991.
  6. Second Atomic Test
  7. Post 9/11
  8. The Latest happening (Current).

Now superimpose both, and you’ve prepared India and the world.
^upto point number 5, I would classify under “static” question / theory portion.
Lately the UPSC has stopped asking questions from it, after all how much can they ask from NAM or Panchsheel! Whatever they could ask, has been asked in last 25 years GS papers, just look at the old papers and try to frame skeletal answer.

But since UPSC has a nasty habit of throwing unexpected surprizes, so one should go prepared.
So, how to approach the Static portion?
From the given IGNOU ZIP file, prepare a very short note, highlighting keywords of India’s relations through each region and each phase. There are 193 countries in UN, you don’t have to prepare each and every one of them but only the important ones, given in the “Based on Geography”.

This pretty much sums up the “static” portion.
Now what about the “dynamic” (i.e. current based). Well past two years, majority of questions are coming from the dynamic portion only.

Dynamic portion: Two parts

  1. Where India is involved. (Example: Bilateral visits of Presidents and prime ministers, India at Coppenhegan etc.)
  2. Where India is not directly involved. (example NATO in Afghanistan, US-China, Greece & EU sovereign debt-crisis, South Sudan etc.)

What types of questions can be asked from this portion? To understand it, just browse through the old question papers and prepare the current affairs on that line.

How to approach the Dynamic portion?

  1. First make list of bilateral visits (you can find information on website of Ministry of External Affairs) Then dig up on google, What trade-pacts or treaties were signed. You don’t have to do Ph.D on each and everything, for example of PM of Nicargua visited India, and signed a few trade pacts, it’s hardly of any importance but when PM of Bangladesh visits India and discusses something on land tranfer, border or river dispute – that part is important. Again no need to mug up how many crores were given as loan or what was the exact date of meeting etc.
  2. The list of all important international events happened last year, where India was not involved, can be found in your monthly issue of Chronicle, Wizard, Pratiyogita Darpan.
  3. What to prepare for Diospora? First the theory: OCI, PIO, NRI, Citizenship issues. Then based on current events. For example,
    1. Kamla Prasad Bissesar became PM of Trinidad and Tobago last year, so prepare that region.
    2. Crisis for Indian Workers in Tripoli, Middle east, Libya etc.
    3. Schemes of Government for the protection and welfare of Indian workers abroad. And so on.

^this list is not exhaustive, just as an example.

You cannot prepare the international relations in a week, it’s a continuous process, keep a habit of reading newspapers daily, particularly the Columns related to International relations. But at the same time, you don’t need ball by ball commentary on what is going on, for example Political turmoil of Nepal, their Prime minister keeps changing every fortnight, so by the time it is October November, they’d be 25-30 Prime ministers already (!), you try to mug up the names and timelines, it won’t do you any good.

Secondly, If you’ve to attempt an Essay on Globalization or international affairs, you’ll need fodder material (facts and viewpoints), therefore reading newspapers and columns Is must.

Supplementary Reading

Depending on your time and energy, you may approach

  1. Frontline
  2. Political and Economic Weekly and
  3. The Economist.

But like I said earlier, there is no need to do Ph.D, else you won’t be left with any time or energy for other subjects. Always keep the syllabus in mind, you’ve to prepare the topics, not the books or magazines.

Appendix: Official Syllabus

The Official Syllabus of UPSC for International relations Topic in GS Mains (Paper II)

1. India and the World :

This part will include questions to test candidate’s awareness of India’s relation- ship with the world in various spheres such as the following:- Foreign Affairs with special emphasis on India’s relations with neighbouring countries and in the region. Security and defence related matters.
Nuclear policy, issues, and conflicts.
The Indian Diaspora and its contribution to India and the world.

2. India’s Economic Interaction with the World :

In this part, questions will be on economic and trade issues such as foreign trade, foreign investment; economic and diplo- macy issues relating to oil, gas and energy flows; the role and functions of I.M.F., World Bank, W.T.O., WIPO etc. which influence India’s economic interaction with other countries and international institutions.

3. International Affairs and Institutions:

This part will include questions on important events in world affairs and on international institutions.