Strategy:Political Science & International Relations (PSIR)

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PSIR as an optional has huge syllabus to be covered. We generally divide it in following categories:

  1. Western Political Thought
  2. Political Theory
  3. Indian Political Thought
  4. Indian government and politics
  5. IR Theory
  6. India and the world
  7. International organisations
  8. Comparative politics

For each one of them, base of my study used to be Shubhra Mam’s notes. They are available in market. I purchased them and started reading them word to word. It would take 2–3 readings before you start making sense of it and start remembering things.

To understand the basics better following could be done:

  • Youtube lectures on various topics
  • Reading up book for each part of paper
    • Paper 1 Section A - O P Gauba
    • Paper 1 Section B - B L Fadia
    • Paper 2 Section A
    • Paper 2 Section B

Now, one can score about 220–240 by remembering the concepts of all these sections. They are available in most notes that are available in market. However, in an optional this score would not let you get into the list. So, to score higher following could be possible strategy

  • Western Political Thought
    • Thinker and details
    • Keywords
    • Phrases he/she used
    • Motivation the thinker had
    • Criticism from other thinkers (from various categories - realists, idealists, post modern etc.)
    • Supporters or Followers - Someone who has extended their theory further. For ex - Aristotle inspired Hannah Arendt.
  • Political theory
    • Keywords, Crisp definitions
    • Thinkers with their statements or phrases. Example below
    • Criticism with name and words
    • Book names of these thinkers
  • Indian political thought
    • Hindi keywords would look nice
    • Connectivity is most important. You may not have much content for individual thinker except Aurobindo, Gandhi ji and Dr. Ambedkar.
    • Diagrams can be drawn such as in Mandala theory
  • Indian Govt and Politics
    • We often are told (and we also think) that section 2 in Paper 1 is not scoring enough. But, it is only a myth. If prepared well, one can score in this section as well.
    • How?
      • Have scholars for each and every topic that is there in the syllabus
      • Connect these scholars. Be open minded. For ex - There was a question on Agricultural reforms in 2018 PSIR papers. Land reforms are a part of it and we have commentaries from socialists on land reforms. We should quote them.
      • Have statements from constitution makers, historians etc. for some parts.
      • Remember articles from constitution
      • Reports of constitutional bodies, law commission help
      • SC Judgements
    • If you think you are strong here, make it stronger. It can fetch marks.
  • IR theory
    • Mam’s notes
    • Examples for theories
    • Thinkers, Scholars name with books and their statements. Example Below
    • Latest books with basic summary
  • India and world
    • Facts and figures about relations
      • economic
      • political
      • defence
      • trade
      • cultural
    • Statements
      • from PM, President, Diplomats
    • Commentaries from scholars - In this, do not have same name for all countries such as C. Raja Mohan coming up in each answer. You should quote specialists for various countries.
    • Latest books and their comments on various relations or international happenings.
  • Comparative politics
    • While it might seem difficult, it is easy to remember.
    • You will have to understand it and memorise it
    • In this also, multiple scholars for a particular topic would help. Such as question on political economy can have marxists, socialists as well as liberals.
    • Make short notes of each topic and keep revising

As Shubhra Mam always say, revising and revising is the key to retain maximum. Keep reading these notes and try writing answers. After this material, answer writing is important. Mam will give you most of the above things but you need to write an answer on your own finally. How you connect things, how you introduce a topic is finally upto you.

There's one more thing that you can do to score higher. Section A of both papers is more theoretical in nature. On the contrary section B is more application based. You can creatively connect these sections. For example,if you quote theory of mearschiemer in question related to India-china relation in can better showcase your understanding. Similarly you can use a theory of comparative politics in analysing social movements of hongkong and lebanon. Possibilities here are endless. The correct way of doing this would come as you do answer writing. Just keep connecting things in your mind while reading the notes.

I hope it helps! All the best :)