This paper is most dynamic and aligned to current affairs. But the trick is that you don’t have to master the topics, all you need is to develop a basic understanding of the topics and the ability to analyze. If you see the papers of GS-2 of last five years, you will find out that UPSC has almost stopped to ask a static question. But for a beginner, it is important to go through all the basic books first and then try to merge the gained knowledge with current affairs and contemporary issues.

UPSC Syllabus for GS paper-2 (Synopsis)

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
  • Comparison Of The Indian Constitutional Scheme With That Of Other Countries
  • Separation of Powers Between Various Organs dispute redressal mechanisms and Institutions
  • Parliament And State Legislatures – Structure, Functioning, Conduct Of Business, Powers & Privileges And Issues Arising Out Of These
  • Appointment to Various Constitutional Posts, Powers, Functions And Responsibilities Of Various Constitutional Bodies
  • 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
  • Government Policies And Interventions For Development In Various Sectors And Issues Arising Out Of Their Design And Implementation
  • Statutory, Regulatory And Various Quasi-Judicial Bodies
  • 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
  • Health, Education, Human Resources
  • Development Processes and The Development Industry The Role Of NGOs, SHGs, Various Groups And Associations, Donors, Charities, Institutional And Other Stakeholders
  • Issues Relating To Development And Management Of Social Sector/Services Relating To
  • Important Aspects Of Governance, Transparency And Accountability, E-Governance- Applications, Models, Successes, Limitations, And Potential; Citizens Charters, Transparency & Accountability And Institutional And Other Measures
  • Issues Relating To Poverty and Hunger
  • Role of Civil Services in a Democracy
  • Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests
  • India and Its Neighborhood- Relations
  • Important International Institutions, Agencies and Fora, Their Structure, Mandate
  • Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s Interests, Indian Diaspora

We have tried to break down GS-2 syllabus, section by section, making it as simple as it can be:

Indian Constitution and Polity

Historical underpinnings: events, acts, laws of which lead to the foundation of Indian constitution, regulation act 1773 to Government of India act 1935.

Evolution of Constitution: starts from for the first time the ‘demand for Constitution’ was laid down by Motilal Nehru in 1924 to its adoption in 1950.

Significant Provisions And Basic Structure: forms of government, Federal System with unitary bias, Fundamental Rights (FR), Fundamental Duties, DPSP,   Supremacy of the Constitution, Integrated and Independent Judiciary etc.

NOTE: Though these topics seems static portion of the syllabus. But the trick is that they aren’t. UPSC nowadays doesn’t ask definitions or facts related to history but relates these topics with ongoing developments.

Question: Discuss the essentials of the 69th Constitutional Amendment Act and anomalies, if any that have led to recent reported conflicts between the elected representatives and the institution of the Lieutenant Governor in the administration of Delhi. Do you think that this will give rise to a new trend in the functioning of the Indian federal politics? (2016)

There was another very basic question in 2016:

Question: Did the Government of India Act, 1935 lay down a federal constitution? Discuss.

These questions can be answered very easily, if one has read the basic books comprehensively. But it is to be always remembered that merely reading the books will not suffice to answer these question with expected standards. If must learn to analyse things, develop your opinion and express them freely.

But the next question comes how I can develop my own opinion in those 8-10 minutes during the exam. So reality is that you don’t have develop your opinions there. While reading the basic books you must analyze and assess things. Also, while reading daily newspapers you read opinions of many experts that can be always your reference.

Resources/ Reference

Indian Polity- M. Laxmikant

Introduction to the Constitution of India- D D Basu (selected chapters)

NCERT books: Indian Constitution at work (Class- 11th)

NCERT– Political Science II (Class- 12th)

NCERT– Democratic Politics (Class- 10th)


The Executive: 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.

  • Seventh Schedule: Division of powers between union and state in the concept of Union list, State list, and concurrent list.
  • Central and State government handling the subjects like agriculture, Law and Order etc.
  • Issues and challenges pertaining to federal structure, distribution of legislative, executive and financials powers between union and state.
  • Administration: NITI Aayog, federalism, the role of Governor, AFSPA, president’s rule, Emergency provisions, River Water Disputes etc.
  • Finance: GST, Distribution of taxes between center and state, the role of finance commission.
  • Legislation: National Emergency (Article- 352), legislation of parliament, Resolutions passed by Rajya Sabha (Article- 249).
  • Panchayat’s and urban local bodies: Functions, issues, transfer of funds, Structure, Operations, Socio cultural factors.

Again, questions asked from this section are very much relevant from current Affairs point of view. You totally have to rely on current affairs and daily news once you have read the basic concepts and books. Look at the question asked in year 2016:

Question: To what extent is Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, bearing marginal note “temporary provision with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir”, temporary? Discuss the future prospects of this provision in the context of Indian polity.

If we see the context why this question was asked then if you will find out that article 370 was in heated debate last year. Many major papers had published series of articles over the issue. Take a look:

 Resources/ Reference

Indian Polity- M. Laxmikant (chapters 12, 13, 14, 30 and 31)

Administrative Reform Committee II- 13th report

Newspapers: The Hindu, Indian Express etc.


Separation of powers between various organs, Dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

  • Organs of state: Legislative, Executive and Judiciary
  • Judicial Activism, Judicial Overreach
  • Issues: UPSC, CVC, Planning Commission, and NITI Aayog, Finance Commission or between Constitutional Bodies or between a Constitutional Body and a Statutory Body
  • Dispute Redressal: Judiciary, Tribunals, Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), Lok Adalat, Lokayukta, Inter-State Council, Zonal Councils, NDC
  • RTI, PIL Citizen’s charter, Sakala in Karnataka

Resources/ Reference

Indian Polity –M. Lakshmikanth (Chapters 23, 28, 35, 37, 41, 44, 45, 46 , 48 and 54)

Dispute Redressal and conflict in various bodies- Newspapers

ARC II- 7th report


 Collate of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries

  • Features of the constitution of the world: UK, US, France, Russia, German, Japan. Features like the form of government, fundamental rights, the supremacy of organs of state, separation of powers, federalism/unitary etc.
  • In our Constitution features borrowed, Rigidity and flexibility, Separation of powers, Supremacy of states

Resources/ Reference

Indian Polity – Lakshmikanth 

S. Chand – Select Constitutions of the world covers this topic thoroughly, but that is more than enough. You need to read selectively or you also can be street smart for this part i.e. buy some short notes.


Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, the conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues:

  • Women Representative in central and state
  • Debates in Parliament, number of bills passed, procedure of passage of the bills like Money Bill, Ordinary Bill and the time spent on discussion of the Bills
  • Role of Parliament in a functioning democracy, role of opposition in parliament
  • committees and procedures, misuse of the privileges of the Parliament, attendance
  • Relevance and functioning of Parliament

These topics seem quite fascinating. Isn’t it? This is because we get to know about our Parliament, its working and procedure.

Resources/ Reference

Indian Polity– Lakshmikanth (Chapters 22 and 27)

Our Parliament- Subhash Kashyap’s

Newspaper- The Hindu, Indian Express, Economic Times etc.


 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

  • Executive: President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Governor, Chief Minister, Attorney General, Advocate General of the State, Cabinet Ministers, Council of Ministers both at the Centre and the State. (powers, functions, responsibilities)
  • President’s rule ( Article – 356), appointment and removal of Governor, Capital Punishment/Death Sentence
  • FICCI , ASSOCHAM, Trade Unions, Agrarian Groups (All India Kisan Sabha), Professional Associations (Indian Medical Associations), Student Organizations (Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)), Religious Organization (RSS), Caste, Linguistic Groups, Tribal Organizations , Ideology based Groups (Environmental protection, Civil liberties, Women Rights), green peace


Here, it seems a list of a number of diverse topics. All combined into one. Yes, it is and you have to read it all J Covering Executive and Judiciary can’t be an issue as they are everywhere i.e. in static books, in news and all. All the other topics like associations and pressure groups you have to totally rely on newspapers. Most of the time UPSC asks issue based questions from this section. So, there is a high chance that you will be familiar with the question-why it has been asked? What it expects to be written and all.

Resources/ Reference

Indian Polity – Lakshmikanth (Chapters 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 42, 43)

Newspaper- The Hindu, Economic Times, Business Line


 Features of the Representation of People’s Act

  • RPA Act, 1950– Allocation of seats in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies, Qualification of voters, Delimitation of Constituencies.
  • RPA Act, 1951- Conduct of elections to Parliament and State Legislature, Qualification and Disqualification of the MP’s and MLA’s etc.
  • Electoral reforms, Qualification, and Disqualification of the MP’s and MLA’s, Office of profit, Anti-defection, etc.

Resources/ Reference

Indian Polity – Lakshmikanth

Newspaper- The Hindu, Indian Express, Economic Times etc.


Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions, and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

  • Constitutional Bodies – Election Commission, UPSC, SPSC, Finance Commission, National Commission for SCs and ST’s, Special officer for Linguistic Minorities, Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), Attorney General and Solicitor General, Advocate General of the States
  • Non- Constitutional Bodies like National Development Council, National Human Rights Commission, and Central Vigilance Commission etc
  • NJAC (National Judicial appointment Commission)

These topics are familiar as one also reads these bodies during his/her prelims preparation. However the context of studying these same topics is very different here. You mostly have to discuss challenges faced by these bodies i.e. their autonomy, Independence and ways to make them impartial and accountable.

Look at the question asked in 2016:

Question: Exercise of CAG’s powers in relation to the accounts of the Union and the States is derived from Article 149 of the Indian Constitution. Discuss whether audit of the Government’s policy implementation could amount to overstepping its own (CAG) jurisdiction.   (2016)


Resources/ Reference

Indian Polity – Lakshmikanth (Parts VII and VIII)

Newspapers: The Hindu, Indian Express etc.


Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies:

  • Statutory Bodies– NHRC, CVC, CIC, Lokpal, Lokayukta
  • Regulatory– SEBI, RBI, AERC, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, TRAI, CCI, PFRDA, IRDA etc.
  • Quasi-judicial bodies– NHRC, CIC, Tribunals- National Green tribunal, Appellate Tribunal for Electricity and CIC, National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission etc.

These topics also seem familiar as one also reads these bodies during his/her prelims preparation. However, the context of studying these same topics is very different here. So you have to stay tuned to ongoing developments around these topics.


Resources/ Reference

Indian Polity – Lakshmikanth

Newspapers: The Hindu, Indian Express etc.


Governance and Social Justice

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • Rural development, urban development, regional development, infrastructural development, MSME
  • FDI in railways, defense or reforms in Education, Health Sector, Power Sector, Agriculture sector etc
  • Government schemes- MNREGA, Make in India etc

Resources/ Reference

PIB (Press Information Bureau)

Newspapers- The Hindu, Economic Times, Business Line

India Year Book


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

  • Empowerment- Women, children, disabled, poor, transgender
  • Janani Shishu Suraksha karyakram, widow and disability pension scheme, ICDS
  • National commission for women, National commission for backward classes, national commission for protection of child rights etc and statutes like protection of women from domestic violence act, protection of child rights act etc.


      India year Book

      Governance in India: M Lakshmikant.


Issues: development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

  • Government initiatives: health, education, skill development to utilize the human capabilities.
  • Schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid Day Meals program, National Health Mission, National Skill Development Programme and various other initiatives
  • Scientific Research in India


India year Book

Governance in India: M Lakshmikant.


Poverty and Hunger

  • Committees like S. Tendulkar and C. Rangarajan on deciding the poverty line and measurement of poverty, reasons for poverty etc.
  • Comparison of poverty levels among states
  • PDS, National food security act etc.

Question: “Demographic Dividend in India will remain only theoretical unless our manpower becomes more educated, aware, skilled and creative.” What measures have been taken by the government to enhance the capacity of our population to be more productive and employable? (2016)


India year Book

Economic Survey, 12th five year plan


The role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

  • Role of NGOs SHGs
  • Issues: NGOs and Charity institutions, criticisms of promoting interests of a section of people, slowing the developmental initiatives of government through environmental blockages, lack of transparency in foreign funding, issues related to FCRA act


Question: “In the Indian governance system, the role of non-state actors has been only marginal.” Critically examine this statement. (2016)

This question demands clarity about who “non-state actors” are. They are NGOs, SHGs and some associations. Yes, it seems true that their presence and impact in governance is limited. Yet some associations like FICCI, DICCI are rising to write new story.


Newspapers: Newspapers- The Hindu, Economic Times, Business Line



Firstly International Relations of India can be categorized into:

  • India and its neighborhood- relations.
  • Bilateral, region 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.


The aspirant should keep updated about the International relations that affect our country. This is the most important part of the GS paper II. Although it is a very tough to understand, as the candidate must know the history and then predict about the future happenings. It is very interesting subject but due to the vastness the zeal but he/ she gets disappointed before explaining the reason. It is very important to have clear basic concept and then keep updating by the current developments.

The questions asked in this section are in an analytical way. The mantra to tackle this subject is related the static portion with the current happening then break them into the sections or parts understand the concept thoroughly. As and when studying it is important to make notes and generate them in a logical way.

The aspirant should give special attention to-

End of Cold War, a disintegration of USSR, end of bipolarity, the emergence of capitalism, nuclear arms race, and evolution environmental regimes these are the topics which have led to changes and development made in the world and the way our country has responded to it.

A very broad question was asked in 2016-

Question: “The broader aims and objectives of WTO are to manage and promote international trade in the era of globalization. But the Doha round of negotiations seem doomed due to differences between the developed and the developing countries.” Discuss in the Indian perspective. (2016)


Preparation strategy for IR

  1. Based on Location
  2. Based on Phases
  3. Dynamic portion: two parts


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


  1. Based on Phases
  • Post-independence NAM/ Panchsheel Era
  • During the Wars with Pakistan and China
  • Atomic Bomb test
  • Cold War
  • Fall of USSR and LPG reforms in 1991.
  • Second Atomic Test
  • Post 9/11
  • The Latest happening (Current)
  1. Dynamic
  • Where India is involved. (Bilateral visits of Presidents and prime ministers, India at Copenhagen etc.)
  • Where India is not directly involved. (NATO in Afghanistan, US-China, Greece & EU sovereign debt-crisis, South Sudan etc)

Resources/Reference (Dynamic)

The Hindu, Frontline

One has also to cover these topics under IR:

  1. India and World

Foreign affairs, nuclear policies and issues etc.

  1. India’s Economic Interaction with the World

Economic and trade issues such as foreign trade, foreign investment; economic and diplomacy 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

  1. International Affairs and Institutions

World Affairs, International Institutions


India’s Foreign Policy: Coping with the Changing World by Muchkund Dubey

Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri


So this was all about GS Paper-2. Yes, the whole list seems exhausting. And unless a proper strategy is not adopted you will never know if you have covered the whole syllabus and you are prepared. Here are few suggestions which we would like to offer-

  • A common mistake most of the aspirants commit is reading so many books for a single topic. This mistake costs both your time and ability to remember things clearly and concisely.
  • Stick to a single source and read it again and again. Remember The Same Source. Avoid the temptation of doing ‘Research’ on a topic.
  • Make short notes on each topic. Atleast this way you will go through the whole syllabus properly for once. Also you will have something to revise just before the exams.
  • Stick to some newspaper and cover thoroughly it. In addition also try to read some important articles from all major newspapers.

Always Remember – You have to build basic understanding of syllabus and all the topics. You don’t have to gain mastery over a topic. Gaining mastery over all topics is neither required nor can be done.

Stay tuned to our initiatives: Daily news discussion videos, Daily Current affairs etc. and enjoy the journey.




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