UPSC GS 2 Strategy

The best strategy for UPSC civil services examination doesn’t exist in the real world. Whatever strategy suits you and brings success in UPSC will be the best strategy for you. But here is the valuable  GS 2 Strategy that will help you in UPSC Mains Examination.

UPSC Mains GS 2 paper can be considered as the toughest paper to score in UPSC civil services examination as it demands more analytical and in-depth answers compared to other GS papers. Questions can be from both static and current affairs has a good frequency in GS 2 paper. According to recent trends, UPSC is maintaining balance tilting towards current affairs. On the one hand, current affairs questions can be predictable but tough to answer, and on the other hand, static is highly unpredictable. So, one must be thorough with both static and current issues to achieve remarkable success in UPSC Mains. That means making a strategy for GS Paper 2 is very important for the aspirants. The average score in UPSC Mains GS 2 paper is 100 and the maximum can reach up to 125-130 marks. 

Let us discuss the strategy of the GS 2 paper section-wise according to UPSC Syllabus

PART 1: Polity and Constitution 

  • 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.
GS 2 Strategy to Focus:

This particular section in UPSC Mains GS 2 is extremely important and difficult to answer as well. But better scoring with the right practice and guidance. You will have to present and support your answers with facts, supreme court judgments, constitution articles, comparison with international examples, etc.

You must quote constitution related articles in your answers to score the brownie points. For example, CAG-Article 148, civil services- Article 312, etc.

If there is a technical term like ‘Parliamentary Sovereignty’, ‘Political democracy’ or ‘Social Audit’ — define them in your introduction and this step is not at all negotiable at any cost. An introduction is the most important part of writing GS 2 answers.

Do make notes on important SC judgments and analyze them thoroughly linking to current affairs. SC judgments are often asked directly. For example, in the Coelho case in 2017, Keshavananda’s case related to basic structure in 2019.

According to recent trends, questions are being linked to the constitutions of other countries. For example, compare the separation of powers of USA and India, secularism of India and France (2019). So, your preparation should include this comparative analysis as well.

some contentious issues related to various constitutional posts and statutory bodies. Eg EC, CBI, CVC, CAG, SC, Governors, Lokayukta, Lokpal (if it comes into existence), etc are also asked. So, read this topic keeping in mind these above issues for UPSC Mains GS 2 paper. While writing about Lokayukta compare it with CBI and CVC to make you answer analytical.

One mandatory question on Local bodies is often asked. Go through the previous year’s papers and prepare accordingly. Refer to ARC for recommendations.

Many sources are available for this section. But stick to standard sources and read selectively. You don’t need to read the entire Laxmikanth or DD Basu. Refer to the syllabus and read accordingly.

  • NCERT Class XI – India Constitution At Work
  • NCERT Class XII – Political Science II
  • NCERT Class X – Democratic Politics
  • Laxmikanth and DD Basu latest edition
  • Subash Kashyap’s Our Parliament
  • ARC and NITI Aayog reports
  • For Complete guidance in Mains 2020 Click here
Read How answer writing practice can help you achieve good marks in mains?
also, read Essay writing strategy for GS Mains.

PART 2: Governance and Social Justice 

  • 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
GS 2 Strategy to Focus:

Focus on the schemes being implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, Ministry of Social Justice, Ministry of Rural Development, and Ministry of Tribal affairs and important topics like the Food security bill, PDS reform, Poverty reduction schemes, Poverty-line controversy, Malnutrition, Women issues, Dalit issues, etc.

From the governance side focus on RTI, social audit, Citizen charter, e-governance, civil services reforms, lateral entry, etc.

This part demands balanced answers. Often questions tempt you to take a one-sided stand. For example – civil services require drastic reforms? In this question, you should support why drastic reforms are needed. Here you might be tempted to write that civil services in India have failed. But avoid such a one-sided stand. However, in the end, you should cover the other side by writing drastic reforms is not feasible and can have negative consequences so gradual changes are necessary while writing in Mains GS 2 paper.

Articles in newspapers related to this section of UPSC Mains GS 2 are often political and biased. So, do not criticize government policies like BJP is anti-farmers, etc, etc, etc… explain diplomatically.

You will have to use stats, committees, policies from post-independent India as well. For example- on education, you can quote first and second education policies. In addition, you will have to quote a lot of stats, figures, graphs related to health, education, malnutrition, IMR, MMR, population, poverty, etc.

You can fetch good marks by including government-related committees and reports as these are indispensable. There is a lot of scopes to showcase your innovation in this area so you can gain an extra edge by adding innovative points, ideas, and best practices.

  • Yojana and Kurukshetra magazines
  • Economic survey and India yearbook
  • ARC, Punchi Commission, Sarkaria Commission
  • RSTV, All India Radio debates
  • For Complete guidance in Mains 2020 Click here

PART 3: International Relations 

  • 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.
GS 2 Strategy to Focus:

Questions on International Relations in UPSC Mains will be almost and always be about the current happenings in the world. But before you run after the Hindu or some other latest magazine for this section, you must understand the historical background of India’s relationship with other countries. This is indispensable because every bilateral issue that you see in the news can be traced back to history. Once you understand this historical context, this topic becomes easy and really uncomplicated.

For example, let’s take India China relations. Don’t merely focus on the Doklam crisis and troop positioning, but understand the larger context of our border dispute with China, the agreements we had signed starting with the Simla Accord of 1914. For India-Sri Lanka, don’t just concentrate that India voted for or against Sri Lanka at the UN, but understand how India always championed peace between the Tamils and the Sinhalese, the 1987 accord, its fallout, Sri Lankan civil war, and what India did during these times. When you have that bigger picture in mind, each part of the puzzle becomes easier to fit in.

Draw map wherever relevant in writing UPSC Mains answer. Example: for India-Iran relations, you can draw a rough map to show how the Chabahar port helps us to bypass Pakistan and reach Afghanistan. Act East policy can be demonstrated with arrows pointing from India and showing our specific relationship with Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia and ASEAN, MGC, BIMSTEC, etc.,

Each bilateral relationship or a global grouping is multi-faceted. To make your answers comprehensive in UPSC Mains, always write a multidimensional perspective that includes: the strategic dimension, defense co-operation, technology, education, culture, diaspora, trade and investment, co-operation in global fora, etc. UNO and its various bodies, agencies must be studied with respect to their structure, role, relevance, and reforms. UN reforms are a hot topic for UPSC Mains 2020. International Organizations (no UN bodies) such as APEC, ADB, ASEAN, OECD, NATO should be studied.

Do include opinions of popular analysts like Suhasini Haider, Happyman Jacob, Raja mandala, etc.

  • MEA website
  • Rajiv Sikri – Challenge and Strategy – Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy
  • For Complete guidance in Mains 2020 Click here

Common Mistakes to Avoid for UPSC Civil Services Examination

  • 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.
  • Read, Re-read the same source, Write and Revise is the ultimate mantra


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