Syllabus for Political Science and International Relations Optional

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UPSC Political Science and International Relations Optional

The Union Public Service Commission offers a list of optional subjects to choose one optional subject from for the UPSC IAS Mains exams. Political Science is one of the commonly opted optional subjects in the exam. The syllabus of Political Science overlaps with other GS Papers and the study material is easily available for the aspirants. In recent years, we have seen many UPSC Toppers who opted for Political Science as their optional. 

Syllabus for Political Science and International Relations Optional Paper-I

Political Theory and Indian Politics

  • Political theory meaning and approaches
  • Theories of the state: Liberal, Pluralist, Marxist, Neoliberal, Post-colonial, and feminist.
  • Justice: Conceptions of justice with reference to Rawl’s theory of justice; communitarian critiques.
  • Equality: Relationship between equality and freedom; Political, Social, and economic; Affirmative action.
  • Rights: Meaning and theories; the concept of Human Rights; different kinds of rights.
  • Democracy: Contemporary and Classical theories; different models of democracy – deliberative, participatory, and representative.
  • The concept of power, legitimacy, ideology, and Hegemony.
  • Political Ideologies: Liberalism, Marxism, Fascism, Feminism, Gandhism, and Socialism.
  • Indian Political Thought: Arthashastra, Dharmashastra, and Buddhist traditions; Sri Aurobindo, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, B.R. Ambedkar, M.K. Gandhi, M.N. Roy.
  • Western Political Thought: Plato, Machiavelli, John S. Mill, Aristotle, Locke, Hobbes, Marx, Gramsci, and Hannah Arendt.

Indian Government and politics

  • Indian Nationalism:
    • Perspectives on Indian National Movement: Socialist, Liberal, and Marxist; Radical humanist and Dalit.
    • Political Strategies of India’s Freedom Struggle: Civil Disobedience, constitutionalism to mass Satyagraha, Non-cooperation; Peasant and workers’ movements, militant and revolutionary movements.
  • Making of the Indian Constitution: Legacies of the British rule; Different political and social perspectives.
  • Salient Features of the Indian Constitution: Fundamental Rights and Duties, The Preamble, Directive Principles; Judicial Review and Basic Structure doctrine, Parliamentary System, and Amendment Procedures.
  • Principal Organs of the Union Government: Envisaged role and actual working of the  Legislature, Executive, and Supreme Court.
  • Principal Organs of the State Government: Envisaged role and actual working of the Legislature, Executive, and High Courts.
  • Grassroots Democracy: Significance of 73rd and 74th Amendments; Panchayati Raj and Municipal Government; Grassroot movements.
  • Statutory Institutions/ Commissions: Comptroller, Election Commission, and Auditor General, Union Public Service Commission, Finance Commission, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Women; National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Human Rights Commission, National Backward Classes Commission, National Commission for Minorities.
  • Federalism: Changing nature of center-state relations; Constitutional provisions; integrationist tendencies and regional aspirations; inter-state disputes.
  • Planning and Economic Development: the role of planning and public sector; Nehruvian and Gandhian perspectives; land reforms and agrarian relations; Green Revolution, liberalization, and economic reforms.
  • Religion, Caste, and Ethnicity in Indian Politics.
  • Party System: Ideological and social bases of parties; National and regional political parties, Pressure groups, trends in electoral behavior; patterns of coalition politics; changing the socio-economic profile of Legislators.
  • Social Movements: Women's movements; Civil liberties and human rights movements; environmentalist movements.
Syllabus for Political Science and International Relations Optional Paper-II

Comparative Politics and International Relations

  • Comparative Politics: Political economy and political sociology perspectives; Nature and major approaches; limitations of the comparative method.
  • State in comparative perspective: Advanced industrial and developing societies, Characteristics and changing nature of the State in socialist and capitalist economies.
  • Politics of Representation and Participation: Pressure groups, Political parties, and social movements in advanced industrial and developing societies.
  • Globalization: Responses from developing and developed societies.
  • Approaches to the Study of International Relations: Realist, Idealist, Functionalist, Marxist, and Systems theory.
  • Key concepts in International Relations: Balance of power and deterrence; Security, National interest, and power; World capitalist economy and globalization; Transnational actors and collective security.

Changing International Political Order

  • Rise of superpowers; arms race and Cold War; strategic and ideological Bipolarity, nuclear threat;
  • Non-aligned movement: Achievements and Aims;
  • Unipolarity and American hegemony; Collapse of the Soviet Union; relevance of non-alignment in the contemporary world.
  • Evolution of the International Economic System: Socialist economies and the CMEA (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance); From Bretton woods to WTO; Globalisation of the world economy; Third World demand for new international economic order.
  • United Nations: specialized UN agencies-aims and functioning; Envisaged role and actual record; the need for UN reforms.
  • Regionalization of World Politics:  SAARC, ASEAN, EU, APEC, NAFTA.
  • Contemporary Global Concerns: Gender justice, Human rights, Democracy, nuclear proliferation, environment, terrorism.

India and the World

  • Indian Foreign Policy:
    • Institutions of policy-making; Determinants of foreign policy; continuity and change.
    • India's Contribution to the Non-Alignment Movement: Current role; Different phases;
  • India and South Asia:
    • South Asia as a Free Trade Area.
    • Regional Co-operation: SAARC – future prospects and past performance.
    • Impediments to regional co-operation: illegal cross-border migration; river water disputes; ethnic conflicts and insurgencies; border disputes.
    • India's “Look East” policy.
  • India and the Global South: Leadership role in the demand for NIEO and WTO negotiations, Relations with Africa and Latin America.
  • India and the Global Centres of Power:  EU, China, USA, Japan, and Russia.
  • India and the UN System: Demand for Permanent Seat in the Security Council; Role in UN Peace-keeping.
  • India and the Nuclear Question: Changing policy and perceptions.
  • Recent developments in Indian Foreign policy: Growing relations with the US and Israel; India's position on the recent crisis in West Asia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the vision of new world order.

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