IASbaba UPSC Civil Services Mains Strategy Paper 2
Civil Services (Mains) Examination General Studies
Strategy for Paper 2
Marks allotted- 250
Paper 2 comprises of Indian Constitution, Governance issues and International Relations. It is one of
the most interesting papers of General Studies-Mains. What makes it distinct and interesting is its evolving
and dynamic nature .
Many aspirants misinterpret the syllabus and spend too much time on static aspects. For a beginner and
naive aspirant, the syllabus is intriguing in much sense. First, for basic understanding a beginner will have to
spend quality time in learning the basics that takes substantial time. Second, when the aspirant is done with
the basic books, the real challenge awaits as how to answer the questions asked by UPSC?
This happens to most of the aspirants since the change of pattern in 2013, UPSC has stopped asking static
questions. If you go through previous year papers, 2013 and 2014, almost all the questions are dynamic
though require basic understanding. But if you are well versed with contemporary developments around
that issue, you can answer the questions very well.
The strategy given below is a blend of both, static and contemporary aspects.
Please note that, there are 2 most important things a beginner should do, before one starts off
with his/her preparation:
Firstly, memorize all the aspects of the syllabus
Secondly, go through last 5 years UPSC (Mains) question papers
One has to be well versed with all the dimensions of the topics given in the syllabus. If you are able to
understand them, then half the battle is won! While reading a newspaper or going through any material, it will
help you in picking up the relevant issues from the exam perspective. Most of the topics and sub-topics are
interconnected. This is explained as you read further.
Must: IASbaba has made the first part of your preparation simpler by innovatively explaining the various
dimensions of the Syllabus through Mind Maps. This will help you to memorize the syllabus in less time. Once
you have browsed through for say 5 times, most of the aspects of the syllabus will be visually imprinted in your
For the second part of your preparation (which is dynamic in nature), refer our
Think & Learn Perform (TLP) Mains initiative
IASbabas Daily Current Affairs
Yojana in Q & Answer format
The whole syllabus of Paper 2 can be broadly divided into three parts-
Indian Constitution and Polity
Governance and Social Justice
Now, lets go through each Topic and Sub-topics in detail.
Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant
provisions and basic structure.
Historical Underpinningsmeans the events/acts/laws which led to strengthening the foundation of
Indian Constitution right from Regulation Act of 1773 to Government of India Act of 1919.
Evolution of the Constitution starts from for the first time the demand for Constitution was laid
down by Motilal Nehru in 1924 to its adoption in 1950.
Salient Features of the Indian Constitutionlike forms of government, Federal System with unitary
bias, Fundamental Rights (FR), Fundamental Duties, DPSP, Supremacy of the Constitution, Integrated
and Independent Judiciary etc. Have a basic understanding on how basic structure of the Constitution
evolved, important cases involved.
You would have covered the above topics while reading for Prelims. For MAINS, brush up the
concepts and focus more on the current happenings related to these topics.
Example: 66A of IT Act was in news because it curtailed the freedom of expression (Article 19).
NOTE: Make note of the recent Amendments and rationale behind these amendments. Example: With
97th Amendment Act forming a Co-operative Society became a Fundamental Right (FR). Why was it made a
FR, what were the issues involved?
Now, let us relate these topics from previous years UPSC questions
Important Points to Focus
Though the above topics may seem factual and static, but the questions asked by UPSC can only be
answered if one is having a track of recent issues not news.
What we mean by issues? Follow the news but study the issue. A news when completes its entirety
becomes an issue. An issue has several dimensions and UPSC loves to ask a question on any one
such dimension or an issue comprehensively.
If you are done with your basics, a relative study and understanding of the issue is a cake walk.
It will also lessen your time that is consumed for newspaper reading.
The below comparison is done to show how you can cover this part of the syllabus smartly by inter-
linking the static with the current issues.
Check these questions from UPSC
Discuss Section 66A of IT Act, with reference to its alleged violation of Article 19 of the Constitution. (2013)
Recent directives from Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas are perceived by the Nagas as a threat to
override the exceptional status enjoyed by the State. Discuss in light of Article 371A of the Indian
What do you understand by the concept freedom of speech and expression? Does it cover hate speech
also? Why do the films in India stand on a slightly different plane from other forms of expression? Discuss.
Reference: A general topic of debate and discussion that is sort of evergreen in Indian media. You can find
number of articles with respect to this.
Sources/Books to Refer:
Indian Polity by LAXMIKANTH-4th Edition
Introduction to The Constitution Of India D.D. Basu:- The first 4 chapters in this book give a
good insight on this topic.
We consider that you have read NCERT, Polity books of class 9th, 10th and 11th as part of Prelims
preparation. If not, then try to finish it as soon as possible and get back to above mentioned sources.
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.
These topics are overlapping and dynamic in nature :
Have a basic understanding on Seventh Schedule Division of Powers between the Union and the
States in terms of Union List, State List and the Concurrent List.
Issues with the powers and functions of State and the Central government like dealing with State
Subjects Agriculture, Law & Order, Statehood issues etc.
Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure Distribution of Legislative,
Executive and Financial powers between the Centre and the States.
Issues range from:
Administration: Co-operative Federalism, Role of Governor, NITI Ayog replacing Planning
Commission, Formation of New States, National Counter terrorism Centre (NCTC), FDI in retail,
AFSPA,Misuse of Article 356 (Presidents Rule), River water disputes, Emergency Provisions, All-India
Civil Services etc.
Finance: Goods and Service Taxes (GST), The role of Finance Commission; distribution of taxes
among States and between States and the Centre. etc.
Legislation: Circumstances under which Parliament can legislate in the State field like when Rajya
Sabha passes a resolution (A-249), during national emergency (A-352) etc.
Devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges: Though Constitutional
Status has been granted to Local Self Governments Panchayats and Urban Local bodies- there are
Issues with the transfer of Functions, Funds and Functionaries from the State Government to the
Central Government. Various structural, operational and socio cultural factors affecting the effective
functioning of the panchayats have to be dealt with.
Let us go through previous years UPSC questions
Constitutional mechanisms to resolve the inter-state water disputes have failed to address and solve the
problems. Is the failure due to structural or process inadequacy or both? Discuss. 2013
Reference: Cauvery Water Dispute
Many State Governments further bifurcate geographical administrative areas like Districts and Talukas for
better governance. In light of the above, can it also be justified that more number of smaller States would bring
in effective governance at State level? Discuss. 2013
Reference: Formation of Telangana, Rise in Demands of separate State. This was the basis of this question.
One can find many articles from newspapers.
Though the federal principle is dominant in our Constitution and that principle is one of its basic features, but
it is equally true that federalism under the Indian Constitution leans in favour of a strong Centre, a feature that
militates against the concept of strong federalism. Discuss. 2014
Reference: A very basic question. After going through polity books, one can easily answer this question.
However, it is required to substantiate your arguments with several examples from current happening. It will
add value to your answer.
Books/Sources to Refer:
For getting your Basics right refer Intro