1. International Relation (IR) was NOT EASY in Prelims-2018
  2. Strategy for IR for Prelims and Mains
  3. Don’t turn into an IR-LOVER
  4. Solution / Answerkey for Prelims-2018

International Relation (IR) was NOT EASY in Prelims-2018

  • On 3rd June 2018, UPSC conducted Prelims exam for recruitment in IAS/IPS and other civil services.
  • Paper-I consisted of 100 MCQs from general studies. For that, I’ve already published answerkey for Science, Polity, Environment and Geography. Now, this article covers International Relation (IR)/ Diplomacy answerkey and the strategy for next year.

UPSC Answerkey IR/Diplomacy

Total 8 MCQs, out of them 6 are of medium to tough level of difficulty. So, overall IR/diplomacy was not an easy section, for three reasons:

  1. Since the Mains-syllabus change of 2013, you’ve to prepare only IR events affecting Indian interest. So, people tend to downplay / ignore the events where India is not directly involved / affected. Yet, such places have been asked in Prelims-2018.
  2. IAEA’s additional protocol, Israel-Palestine’s two-state solution… these type of contemporary issues- candidates prepare only after qualifying for Mains. Yet they’re asked in Prelims-2018.
  3. Only one from current affairs (Rule of law index), rest are just contemporary events. So, Prelim-2018’s IR/Diplomacy section was more comfortable for senior players, particularly those who have appeared in atleast one mains. There were no cliched current affairs IR questions like “What was the theme / venue of 2017’s xyz high profile summit?” Similarly, nothing from India’s own defense development or joint military exercise.

Strategy for IR for Prelims and Mains

IR section was not easy, but at the same time questions didnot fall from sky. Observe the source of my answerkey:

UPSC Answerkey IR Diplomacy Pavneet Singh

  • First cultivate curiosity and interest in International relation, by looking at colorful texts and photos from NCERT Class12: Contemporary World Politics. Then go for:
  • Pavneet Singh’s International Relations Book (Macgraw-hill) It’s useful for both theory and contemporary affairs for both Prelims and Mains (GS Paper-II). Earlier there was book by Pushpesh Pant but Pavneet’s book is much comprehensive and updated with latest contemporary developments. He also has a dedicated chapter on Indian Diaspora for GSM2, so your time is saved for not having to consult IGNOU’s Political science booklets on that topic.
  • Current Affairs: Regular reading of IndianExpress and PDF compilations of theHindu. Whenever a new place / region is mentioned, you should look it up in the school atlas. As I explained in the Geography answerkey, avoid instantly delivered location from Google Map. If you manually search the place in in School Atlas, then due to trial-error you’ll also come across additional information about its surrounding places, and thus your command over the map / IR will improve. Example, Crimea opens up in Black sea, and Black sea opens up in Mediterranean sea through Bosporus strait. So, if Russia took over Crimea from Ukraine, then Putin could trade commodities and send military to so many countries via Crimean Port.

Don’t turn into an IR-LOVER

UPSC is for killers and not for lover. (आशिको का इधर कोई काम नही है.) Still, those with IFS as 1st preference- they get obsessive about studying IR / diplomacy and those with IPS as first preference obsessively study Internal security / terrorism topics. Both parties forget that:

  • In Mains, UPSC is not asking such in-depth nuanced questions where you can pour in all your in-depth knowledge of diplomacy. Observe the topicwise question papers here. And even on rare occasion when they ask, there are time and space constrains of the actual exam so you’ll not be able to pour in your entire knowledge of diplomacy. Maximum word limit in GSM2 is 250 words only.
  • Even at Interview stage, there is no guarantee that just because you’ve IFS / IPS as 1st preference in DAF, panel will be grilling you on those respective subjects only, OR that surviving through such grilling will automatically translate to selection or high interview marks. Yes, you’ve to insure yourself by preparing those topics, but don’t turn into a lover.

Accordingly, the examples of poor strategies are:

  1. Web-scrapping of entire site of IDSA.in. You should read it selectively for the topics you deem very important in Mains example India’s entry to NSG or UNSC. Daily commentary over China’s rise and African terrorism is not necessary.
  2. Web-scrapping of entire website of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), for every bilateral summit and even downloading its three dozen PDFs “India Perspectives magazine”. Yes, it helps cultivating vocabulary and improves comprehension. But you should first invest in Yojana and Kurukshetra (which have better utility both in Prelims and mains), before moving to any other Government magazines.
  3. Web-scrapping of C.Rajamohan’s IR columns from Indianexpress. Besides, nowadays Rajamohan is writing more frequently, and therefore quality of individual article has declined just like Tarak Mehta’s episodes. So, gist of every column is: “China is doing xyz, and South block officials are incompetent.” or its spin-off episodes where South block officials are overzealous, overcautious, skeptical, or hesitant depending on who the other party is. Yes you should read him to cultivate fodder points for Essay, Mains and interview. But his column-study should not become a become full time standalone activity.

Anyways, let’s solve the IR questions asked in Prelims-2018

Organizations and reports

Q88. In the Indian context, what is the implication of ratifying the ‘Additional Protocol’ with the ‘International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’ ? (Pre18 Set-D)

  1. The civilian nuclear reactors come under IAEA safeguards.
  2. The military nuclear installations come under the inspection of IAEA.
  3. The country will have the privilege to buy uranium from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
  4. The country automatically becomes a member of the NSG.

Difficulty: Tough, because candidates primary focus had been on NSG / MCTR related current affairs last year, so unlikely that they’d follow through this much details.

Answer: Pavneet Singh’s IR Book Section-A Key terms in International Relations , page A-16

  • Under the old IAEA safeguards, all NPT signatories would specify their nuclear sites and IAEA would carry out inspections in the specified sites. Thus, IAEA, under the old safeguards, could only carry out inspection for unauthorised activities only at designated or specified sites declared by a country. This basically left an option open for states to carry out covert nuclear programmes – as it happened in case of Iraq.
  • Thus, in 1993, the IAEA designed Additional Protocols (AP) to tighten the existing safeguarding regime.
  • However, India specific Additional Protocols (AP) do not give IAEA the right to hinder or interfere with activities which are outside the scope of India’s safeguard agreements, thus recognizing that India reserves a right to a military nuclear program outside IAEA agreement.

From this description, C and D are irrelevant, and B is wrong. Thus we are left with answer A.

Guessmaster-giriTM doesn’t help arriving at right answer, It can only help upto elimination of optionD- because optionD has extreme worded statement “Automatically” so, it has to be a wrong statement according to GM-Rule#1.

Q22. What is/are the consequence/consequences of a country becoming the member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group’? (Pre18 Set-D)

  1. It will have access to the latest and most efficient nuclear technologies.
  2. It automatically becomes a member of “The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)”.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Difficulty: Easy for senior players, and anyone who follows IR developments even in casual manner.

Answer: Pavneet Singh’s IR Book ch. 2 India China relations

  • By joining NSG, we’ll have access to sophisticated nuclear technology, so #1 is right.
  • India wishes to be a part of the NSG. However, as India is not a member of NPT, China and Pakistan have objections to its enrolment. So, #2 is wrong.

Guessmaster-giri TM possible, if we go by GM-Rule#1, extreme worded statements are automatically wrong, then #2 ought to be wrong, as it has extreme word ‘automatically’. Ofcourse, then statement#1 will also be wrong for the words “latest and most efficient”, but by GM-Rule#5: “word association”- since question says nuclear suppliers group, therefore statement#1 (access to nuclear tech) is likely to happen. Thus you get answer A: only 1.

Q29. “Rule of Law Index” is released by which of the following ? (Pre18 Set-D)

  1. Amnesty International
  2. International Court of Justice
  3. The Office of UN Commissioner for Human Rights
  4. World Justice Project

Difficulty: Tough because unlike HDI, hunger, happiness or ease of doing biz. report, this one is not highlighted in a grand manner by all newspapers. Guessmaster-giri TM also not possible since all options have words associated with human rights / justice which is associated with rule of law.

Answer: Topic was in news during 2018-March.

The World Justice Project released its Rule of Law Index 2017-18 report, which measures the extent to which 113 countries have adhered to the rule of law in that period. (India’s rank was 62, better than China, Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh; Denmark occupied the top spot. Ref: TheHindu

Now, let’s look at other options, to gain some more knowledge:

  • Amnesty international (1961)– Amnesty International is a London-based non-governmental organization focused on human rights. Already a question was asked in 2014 prelims on this organisation.
  • International court of justice (1945) – UN organization, located at Hague, Netherlands. Recently in news due to Indian Judge Dalvir Singh Bhandari getting selected as a judge for the 2nd time.
  • UN Commissioner for Human Rights– Its high commissioner is appointed by UN Secretary General, after approval of the UN General Assembly. Present commissioner is Jim Gordon Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Places in News

Q60. Consider the following pairs of Regions sometimes mentioned in news vs Country : (Pre18 Set-D) 1. Catalonia: Spain 2. Crimea: Hungary 3. Mindanao: Philippines 4. Oromia: Nigeria

Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched ?

  1. 1, 2 and 3
  2. 3 and 4 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 2 and 4 only

Difficulty: Easy for senior players, and anyone who follows IR news even on casual basis- If you just know about Catalonia and Crimea, you can get right answer.

Answer: Pavneet Singh’s IR Book ch1 Section 4

  • Crimea had been gifted to Ukraine in 1954 but Putin annexed the province back in 2014, because he’s a Boss like that. (page h84) So, #2 is wrong, Crimea is not in Hungary. This eliminates A and D.
  • In 2017, India has decided to give 25 Million Pesos aid to Philippines to fight Islamic State in Mindanao Province. This is the first time that India has decided to extend monetary assistance outside to any state to fight terrorism. This signals a rise of India’s image as a Net Security Provider. (page i-13) So, #3 is right
  • Catalonia had been in news due to referendum where people decided to vote for secession from Spain. (IndianExpress 2017-October) So, #1 is right. This eliminates Option B.
  • Thus by elimination, we get Option C: 1 and 3 Only.
  • Now just to satisfy curiosity about #4: Oromia is not in Nigeria but in Ethiopia, it has been in news in 2017, due to Ethnic violence, terrorism and general anarchy that is common in such African countries and also in some Indian states. Ref: IndianExpress 2017-May

Q63. Very recently, in which of the following countries have lakhs of people either suffered from severe famine/acute malnutrition or died due to starvation caused by war/ethnic conflicts ? (Pre18 Set-D)

  1. Angola and Zambia
  2. Morocco and Tunisia
  3. Venezuela and Colombia
  4. Yemen and South Sudan

Difficulty: Tough because in real-exam stress, you can have second thoughts about areas mentioned here.


  • Venezuela and Columbia– Venezuela has been facing severe crisis due to hyperinflation, food shortage and associated food-riots. But this hunger/ malnutrition is not by war/ethnic conflicts per say, but rather President Nicolas Maduro’s bogus economic policies. So, #C looks tempting but doesn’t fit.
  • Morocco and Tunisia– Were in news due to starting of Arab Spring, Jasmine revolution. In 2014 Civil Services Prelims UPSC had already asked a question on starting place of the Arab Spring. फूटा हुआ कारतूस जो अब चर्चा में नही है. So, B doesn’t fit.
  • Angola is in Africa, but not much in news except for economic crisis and stampede- which is a common thing for African countries. Similar case for Zambia. So, A doesn’t fit.
  • In war-torn South Sudan 1.25 million people are facing starvation, double the number from the same time last year, This country could once again plunge into famine in 2018 says UN [IndianExpress 2017-Nov]
  • In Yemen, over 20 million people need humanitarian assistance, including 7 million facing “famine-like” conditions, Food supplies are expected to run out within six weeks due to Saudi-led coalition’s a blockade on war-torn Yemen. [IndianExpress 2017-Nov] It was also in news during Feb-2017: Seven million Yemenis are closer than ever to starvation,due to conflict escalated between the government and Huthis rebels. [IndianExpress 2017-Feb]
  • Therefore, among the given options, D is most fitting.

Q69. The term “two-state solution” is sometimes mentioned in the news in the context of the affairs of (Pre18 Set-D)

  1. China
  2. Israel
  3. Iraq
  4. Yemen

Difficulty: Medium because as such serious candidates would have prepared India-Israel deals during Modi visit-2017 but this “two-state solution” is a bit faded old topic.

Answer: Pavneet Singh’s IR Book Section-H Ch1: Issues in the Middle East: Palestine under Israeli control to advocating the two states solution. It wants the creation of Arab Palestine state in the Gaza strip and West Bank, along side the state of Israel. (page H11)

Guessmaster-giri TM doesn’t help, because by GM-Rule#5 “Word association” even China could be the answer in context of Taiwan / Tibet.

Q92. Consider the following pairs Town sometime mentioned in news: Country: (Pre18 Set-D)

  1. Aleppo: Syria
  2. Kirkuk: Yemen
  3. Mosul: Palestine
  4. Mazar -i- Sharif: Afghanistan

Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 1 and 4
  3. 2 and3
  4. 3 and 4

Difficulty: Medium because Aleppo= Syria and Mosul = Iraq is known to every one who follows Middle East IR-current affairs even in casual manner, but these two factoids alone don’t help reaching the right answer.

  • Aleppo = Syria, in news due to Syrian conflict. So, #1 is right. This eliminates C and D.
  • The remaining options A and B don’t contain #3 so you must believe without needing any proof that Mosul is not in Palestine. (It’s in Iraq by the way- and in news because it was under control of ISIS, and then liberated.)
  • So, it all boils down to the validity of 2 and 4.
  • Mazar-i-Sharif is in Afghanistan. Last year PM Modi condemned a terror attack which killed 140 soldiers here. [Ref: IndianExpress 2017- April] It also reoccurs in news for chabahar port linking to Zaranj-Delaram corridor and then to the Garland Highway.
  • So, B: 1 and 4 are correctly paired.
  • Kirkuk-Incorrect. It is in Iraq. Been in news due to ISIS controlled territory

GM-Rule#5 “word association” doesn’t help. Because Mazar-i-Sharif sounds Islamic name but it could have been in Pakistan also.


Q98. What is “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)”, sometimes seen in the news? (Pre18 Set-D)

  1. An Israeli radar system
  2. India’s indigenous anti-missile Programme
  3. An American anti missile system
  4. A defence collaboration between Japan and South Korea

Difficulty: Medium, because this is not an Indian missile, and N.Korea-USA news items had become so frequent that candidates would have stopped following ball-by-ball.

Answer: The THAAD system is designed to intercept and destroy short and medium-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight. USA installed this system in South Korea in 2017, in the wake North Korean missile tests. But this angered China, who feels that deployment of American armaments will upset the regional security balance. [Ref IndianExpress May 2017]

GM-Rule#5 “word association”: “area defense” : radar alone can’t provide defense, and geographically Japan-S.Korea are not ‘high altitude countries’, so it has to be an anti-missile program. But it only narrows down the choice between “B” and “C”- doesn’t help arriving at right answer.

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