How to Prepare for GS Paper 2 for UPSC CSE Mains: Syllabus, Booklist & Strategy | Career Launcher

UPSC Mains GS Paper 2 is titled “Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations”. It is a 250-marks subjective paper that is considered for merit. It means the score obtained in the UPSC Mains GS Paper 2 is considered for determining the final rank of the candidate.
Broadly, the UPSC Mains GS Paper 2 covers polity, governance, social justice, and international relations. In this article, we’ve discussed the entire syllabus for UPSC GS Paper 2, how to prepare for this, and the booklist for the preparation of General Studies Paper 2 for the UPSC CSE Main Exam.

UPSC GS Paper 2 Syllabus

The official notification of UPSC details the syllabus of the UPSC General Studies Paper II as under:

General Studies Paper-II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations

  • Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions, and Basic Structure.

  • Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States, Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure, Devolution of Powers, and Finances up to Local Levels and Challenges Therein.

  • Separation of Powers between various organs Dispute Redressal Mechanisms and Institutions.

  • Comparison of the Indian Constitutional Scheme with that of Other Countries.

  • Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges, and Issues Arising out of these.

  • Structure, Organization, and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; Pressure Groups and Formal/Informal Associations and their Role in the Polity.

  • Salient Features of the Representation of People’s Act.

  • Appointment to various Constitutional Posts, Powers, Functions, and Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

  • Statutory, Regulatory, and various Quasi-judicial Bodies.

  • Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

  • Development Processes and the Development Industry — the Role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

  • Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes; Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions, and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.

  • Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

  • Issues relating to Poverty and Hunger.

  • Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency, and Accountability, E-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; Citizens Charters, Transparency & Accountability and institutional and other measures.

  • Role of Civil Services in a Democracy.

  • India and its Neighborhood- Relations.

  • Bilateral, Regional, and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

  • Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

  • Important International institutions, agencies, and fora - their Structure, Mandate.

How to prepare for GS Paper 2 for UPSC Civil Services Main Examination: Tips & Strategies

As you may know from the syllabus, the major components of UPSC GS paper 2 are polity, governance, social justice, and international relations, so, let get into how to prepare each of these components effectively:

  • Polity: Start with reading NCERTs of Class XI and XII if you’re a fresher, reading NCERTs or IGNOU/NIOS notes will introduce you to the terminologies of the subject; after that, read the book authored by M. Laxmikanth thoroughly. It is a must-read book for covering Indian polity for UPSC CSE.

  • Governance: Refer to Governance in India by M.Laxmikanth to prepare this subject. However, be selective in reading only the chapters that are relevant to the syllabus. Other than that, you can rely on online free resources in the form of articles and pdfs of topics included in the syllabus.

  • International Relations: Refer to the MEA website for covering this segment of the UPSC GS Paper 2 syllabus. Questions from contemporary events (current affairs) are mostly asked from this segment, hence, keep a tab on the current affairs by following newspapers, monthly magazines, and other online websites. You can also enroll in the CL-CAP course to effectively cover the current affairs.

  • Previous Year Questions & Mock Tests: Glance through the PYQs to assess the type of questions that are being asked and browse through the answer copies of toppers to get an idea of answer-writing that you have to incorporate into your answer-writing practice. Practice it and get your copies evaluated by your mentors.

Recommended Booklist for UPSC GS Paper 2 for Civil Services Main Exam

  1. Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations – M. Laxmikanth. 

  2. Governance in India - M.Laxmikanth.

  3. Pax Indica – Shashi Tharoor.

  4. India and the World: Through the Eyes of Indian Diplomats by Surendra Kumar.

  5. Introduction to the Constitution of India by Durga Das Basu.

  6. Public Institutions in India: Performance and Design by Devesh Kapur & Pratap Bhanu Mehta

  7. NCERTs of Class XI and XII 

Previous Year Questions of GS Paper 2

Here is a glimpse of questions that are asked in GS Paper 2. Glancing through the previous year’s papers will give you an idea of the questions that are asked in this question in order to prepare for it holistically.

  • Do you think that the constitution of India does not accept the principle of strict separation of powers rather it is based on the principle of ‘checks and balance’? Explain. (10)
  • “The Central Administration Tribunal which was established for redressal of grievances and complaints by or against central government employees nowadays is exercising its powers as an independent judicial authority.” Explain. (10)
  • What are the methods used by the Farmers organizations to influence the policy-makers in India and how effective are these methods? (10) From the resolution of contentious issues regarding the distribution of legislative powers by the courts, the ‘Principle of Federal Supremacy’ and ‘Harmonious Construction’ have emerged. Explain. (10) What can France learn from the Indian Constitution’s approach to secularism? (10)
  • Despite Consistent experience of High growth, India still goes with the lowest indicators of human development. Examine the issues that make balanced and inclusive development elusive. (10)
  • There is a growing divergence in the relationship between poverty and hunger in India. The shrinking of social expenditure by the government is forcing the poor to spend more on Non- Food essential items squeezing their food – budget.- Elucidate. (10)
  • Implementation of information and Communication Technology (ICT) based Projects / Programmes usually suffers in terms of certain vital factors. Identify these factors, and suggest measures for their effective implementation.(10)
  • ‘The time has come for India and Japan to build a strong contemporary relationship, one involving global and strategic partnerships that will have a great significance for Asia and the world as a whole.’ Comment. (10) ‘Too little cash, too much politics, leave UNESCO fighting for life.’ Discuss the statement in the light of US’ withdrawal and its accusation of the cultural body as being ‘anti-Israel bias’.(10)
  • On what grounds a people’s representative can be disqualified under the Representation of People Act, 1951? Also mention the remedies available to such person against his disqualification.(15)
  • “Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution is limited power and it cannot be enlarged into absolute power.” In light of this statement explain whether Parliament under Article 368 of the Constitution can destroy the Basic Structure of the Constitution by expanding its amending power? (15)
  • “The reservation of seats for women in the institutions of local self-government has had a limited impact on the patriarchal character of the Indian Political Process.” Comment. (15)
  • “The Attorney-General is the chief legal adviser and lawyer of the Government of India.” Discuss. (15)
  • Individual Parliamentarian’s role as the national lawmaker is on a decline, which in turn, has adversely impacted the quality of debates and their outcome. Discuss.(15)
  • ‘In the context of the neo-liberal paradigm of development planning, multi-level planning is expected to make operations cost-effective and remove many implementation blockages.’-Discuss. (15)
  • The need for cooperation among various service sectors has been an inherent component of development discourse. Partnership bridges bring the gap among the sectors. It also sets in motion a culture of ‘Collaboration’ and ‘team spirit’. In the light of the statements above examine India’s Development process.(15)
  • Performance of welfare schemes that are implemented for vulnerable sections is not so effective due to the absence of their awareness and active involvement at all stages of the policy process – Discuss. (15)
  • “The long-sustained image of India as a leader of the oppressed and marginalized Nations has disappeared on account of its new-found role in the emerging global order” Elaborate(15)
  • “What introduces friction into the ties between India and the United States is that Washington is still unable to find for India a position in its global strategy, which would satisfy India’s National self- esteem and ambitions” Explain with suitable examples. (15)

  • So, this is the preparation strategy or how to prepare for GS Paper 2 for UPSC! In addition to the self-study using these preparation tips, you can effectively cover the entire syllabus of the General Studies paper by enrolling in our comprehensive course for General Studies.

    Career Launcher also brings to you various comprehensive online courses for UPSC CSE Preparation. You can check out the entire course range including all the subjects of UPSC CSE here. Do get in touch with our course counselors for more details on our course deliverables.

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