Political science is a form of science, also a branch of philosophy that deals with the detailed study and analysis of political aspects of a country. Right from the political behaviour to the way governance is held and conducted, policy making and decisions, systematic consolidation of power etc, it provides the complete knowledge about the political fabrication in both theoretical and practical aspects.
Political science deals with:
- Detailed study of political values
- Analysis of politically inclined institutions.
- Systematic study of principles in politics.
- Policies with respect to governance and power.
- Authority and rules governing politics of a nation.
- Constitutional laws and amendments.
Political Science in UPSC CSE
- Popular choice of top scorers since ages.
- Has a great connection with current affairs and general studies paper.
- A major slice of the syllabus is covered in history too!
- Essay questions are also based on this subject.
- This is not a pure science subject. It is relatively philosophical science, so a person from any educational background can easily opt for it.
- This subject will greatly help in the interview section as well.
- A huge list of theory related concepts in the subject, make sure to write down each and every name without fail.
- Straight forward syllabus.
- Political ideologies are time bound; scenario based and varies from person to person.
- As you go deeper into the subject, identify the evolution of new political ideas and concepts in India.
- Government websites, particularly those that have connection with the constitution are to be considered for study.
- Make a complete list of all the legal court cases under the heading ‘case studies’. Make a connection of every case study with the appropriate political concept.
- You will find a whole lot of recommendations and reports generated by expert panels for various cases and subjects. Group them properly and make a bulleted list of what exactly the report intended to serve.
- Reading two newspapers everyday is a must.
- Quotes from politicians and major anecdotes to be remembered without fail.
- Make detailed notes about political analysis given by famous political thinkers like Plato, Karl Marx, Aristotle, etc. Include contemporary names too.
- Every great political thinker has his own views, ideologies, approach and theory. Make sure to study each one of them in a systematic and elaborate manner. This is a crucial part of your preparation.
- Judicial terms associated with the subject are supportive elements and do not form the core of political science. Do not stand misguided here. Your detailed understanding of these terms with respect to political science is a major asset and hence you should focus on them too.
- Concepts tend to overlap at many places, identify the difference and similarities amongst such related terms.
- List various political ideologies in a tabular column. It’ll be easy to remember and compare.
- List out similarities and dissimilarities between related terminologies. Without visual study tools, you’ll get confused in the core part of the subject.
- Create as many charts possible for thorough understanding of the subject.
- Apart from daily newspapers, going through and analysing related government websites is a sure shot help in the exam paper.
- Major political events and their relevant dates to be noted down correctly and memorised without fail.
- You could also get many important points for your answers by following major political debates on news channels.
Points to remember
- Popular quotes from political personalities to be supported as examples in answers.
- Concepts in detailed answers should be written as simple and subtle to understand. There is no point in explaining a concept using complex terminologies.
- Keep away from using too many technical words; they are unlikely to go well with this subject.
- Aim for better clarity when you are explaining related terminologies.
- Apart from writing detailed answers, represent them with a table and crisp points one-by-one. This surely will fetch you more marks than expected.
Good books for reference
- NCERT books a must.
- Indian Polity by Laxmikanth.
- Introduction to political theory by O P Gauba
- Politics in India by Rajni Kothari.
- India’s foreign policy by V P Dutt.
UPSC Political Science & International Relations Syllabus in detail
Paper – I
Political Theory and Indian Politics
- Political Theory: meaning and approaches.
- Theories of the State: Liberal, Neoliberal, Marxist, Pluralist, Post-colonial and feminist.
- Justice: Conceptions of justice with special reference to Rawl’s theory of justice and its communitarian critiques.
- Equality: Social, political and economic; relationship between equality and freedom; Affirmative action.
- Rights: Meaning and theories; different kinds of rights; concept of Human Rights.
- Democracy: Classical and contemporary theories; different models of democracy – representative, participatory and deliberative.
- Concept of power, hegemony, ideology and legitimacy.
- Political Ideologies: Liberalism, Socialism, Marxism, Fascism, Gandhism and Feminism.
- Indian Political Thought: Dharamshastra, Arthashastra and Buddhist traditions; Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Sri Aurobin, M.K. Gandhi, B.R. Ambedkar, M.N. Roy.
- Western Political Thought: Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, John S. Mill, Marx, Gramsci, Hannah Arendt.
Indian Government and Politics:
1. Indian Nationalism: Political Strategies of India’s Freedom Struggle: Constitutionalism to mass Satyagraha, Non-cooperation, Civil Disobedience; Militant and revolutionary movements, Peasant and workers’ movements.
Perspectives on Indian National Movement: Liberal, Socialist and Marxist; Radical humanist and Dalit.
2. Making of the Indian Constitution: Legacies of the British rule; different social and political perspectives.
3. Salient Features of the Indian Constitution: The Preamble, Fundamental Rights and Duties, Directive Principles; Parliamentary System and Amendment Procedures; Judicial Review and Basic Structure doctrine.
4. (a) Principal Organs of the Union Government: Envisaged role and actual working of the Executive, Legislature and Supreme Court.
(b) Principal Organs of the State Government: Envisaged role and actual working of the Executive, Legislature and High Courts.
5. Grassroots Democracy: Panchayati Raj and Municipal Government; significance of 73rd and 74th Amendments; Grassroot movements.
6. Statutory Institutions/Commissions: Election Commission, Comptroller and Auditor General, Finance Commission, Union Public Service Commission, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Women; National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Minorities, National Backward Classes Commission.
7. Federalism: Constitutional provisions; changing nature of centre-state relations; integrationist tendencies and regional aspirations; inter-state disputes.
8. Planning and Economic Development : Nehruvian and Gandhian perspectives; role of planning and public sector; Green Revolution, land reforms and agrarian relations; liberalization and economic reforms.
9. Caste, Religion and Ethnicity in Indian Politics.
10. Party System: National and regional political parties, ideological and social bases of parties; patterns of coalition politics; Pressure groups, trends in electoral behavior; changing socio- economic profile of Legislators.
11. Social Movements: Civil liberties and human rights movements; women’s movements; environmentalist movements.
Comparative Politics and International Relations
1. Comparative Politics: Nature and major approaches; political economy and political sociology perspectives; limitations of the comparative method.
2. State in comparative perspective: Characteristics and changing nature of the State in capitalist and socialist economies, and, advanced industrial and developing societies.
3. Politics of Representation and Participation: Political parties, pressure groups and social movements in advanced industrial and developing societies.
4. Globalisation: Responses from developed and developing societies.
5. Approaches to the Study of International Relations: Idealist, Realist, Marxist, Functionalist and Systems theory.
6. Key concepts in International Relations: National interest, Security and power; Balance of power and deterrence; Transnational actors and collective security; World capitalist economy and globalization.
7. Changing International Political Order:
Rise of super powers; strategic and ideological Bipolarity, arms race and Cold War; nuclear threat;
Non-aligned movement: Aims and achievements;
Collapse of the Soviet Union; Unipolarity and American hegemony; relevance of non-alignment in the contemporary world.
8. Evolution of the International Economic System: From Brettonwoods to WTO; Socialist economies and the CMEA (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance); Third World demand for new international economic order; Globalization of the world economy.
9. United Nations: Envisaged role and actual record; specialized UN agencies-aims and functioning; need for UN reforms.
10. Regionalization of World Politics: EU, ASEAN, APEC, SAARC, NAFTA.
11. Contemporary Global Concerns: Democracy, human rights, environment, gender justice, terrorism, nuclear proliferation.
India and the World:
- Indian Foreign Policy: Determinants of foreign policy; institutions of policy-making; continuity and change.
- India’s Contribution to the Non-Alignment Movement: Different phases; current role.
- India and South Asia:
Regional Co-operation: SAARC – past performance and future prospects.
South Asia as a Free Trade Area.
India’s “Look East” policy.
Impediments to regional co-operation: river water disputes; illegal cross-border migration; ethnic conflicts and insurgencies; border disputes.
- India and the Global South: Relations with Africa and Latin America; leadership role in the demand for NIEO and WTO negotiations.
- India and the Global Centers of Power: USA, EU, Japan, China and Russia.
- India and the UN System: Role in UN Peace-keeping; demand for Permanent Seat in the Security Council.
- India and the Nuclear Question: Changing perceptions and policy.
- Recent developments in Indian Foreign policy: India’s position on the recent crisis in Afghanistan, Iraq and West Asia, growing relations with US and Israel; vision of a new world order.