Call Us Now

+91 9606900005 / 04

For Enquiry

UPSC Mains General Studies Paper-II Strategy, Syllabus & Structure

In General Studies Paper-II, questions are asked on Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International relations.


The paper is part of the UPSC Mains examination which is the second stage of the UPSC Civil Services Exam. It is one of the qualifying papers.


Most of the questions asked in this paper are analysis-based and the candidates need to give their opinions. It has to be supported with relevant data, facts and figures, and reasoning.

GS Paper-II Structure:

GS Paper-II is for 250 marks. The question paper consists of 20 questions. Each question needs to be answered in 150 to 250 words depending on the marks assigned to the question. The question paper is set both in English and Hindi.

The following table lists important topics in GS paper-II:

SubjectImportant Topics
Indian Constitution
  • Evolution of the Constitution
  • Amendments to constitution
  • Basic Structure
  • Union and States
  • Federal structure
  • Parliament and State legislature
  • Executive and Judiciary
  • Pressure groups
  • Important aspects of Governance
  • Role of Civil services
  • Constitutional and Non-Constitutional bodies
  • E-governance
Social Justice
  • Welfare schemes for Vulnerable sections
  • Issues related to poverty and hunger
International Relations
  • India and its neighbourhood
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements
  • Important International institutions  

GS Paper-II Booklist:

The following table lists important books and sources for UPSC Mains GS paper-II:

SubjectReference Books/Sources
  • Constitution of India at Work (Class XI) NCERT Publication
  • Indian Polity by M.Laxmikanth
  • The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper
  • Yojana Magazine
  • From Government to Governance by Kuldeep Mathur Ethics in Governance, ARC Report
  • Citizen Centric Administration (Chapters 2, 5, 6, 7 & 8 only )
Social Justice
  • XI Standard NCERT on Indian Society (Chapters on Unity & Diversity and Population Issues)
  • XII Standard NCERT (Chapters on Communalism, Secularism and Urban Issues such as Poverty, Housing, etc.)
  • The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper
International Relations
  • India’s Foreign Policy Since Independence by V.P.
  • The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper

GS Paper-II Syllabus:

The following table categorises the UPSC Civil Services Mains GS-II syllabus:

  Subject    Important topics
          Indian Constitution
  • Historical underpinnings of the constitution
  • Evolution of the Constitution
  • Salient features
  • Basic structure
  • Amendments
  • Significant provisions
  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the states
  • Issues and challenges related to the Federal Structure
  • Devolution of powers and finances up to local government level
  • Challenges in the devolution of power
  • Separation of powers between various organs of the government
  • Dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions
  • Comparison of India’s constitutional scheme with other countries
    Polity and Governance
  • Parliament and State Legislatures
  • Structure
  • Functioning
  • Conduct of Business
  • Powers & Privileges
  • Issues arising out of Powers & Privileges of legislative bodies
  • Executive and Judiciary
  • Structure
  • Organization
  • Functioning
  • Ministries and departments of the government
  • Pressure groups
  • Formal & Informal associations and their role in the polity
  • Salient features of the People’s Representation Act  
  • Appointment to various constitutional posts
  • Powers, functions and responsibilities of various constitutional bodies
  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
  • Government policies and interventions for the development of various sectors
  • Issues arising out of design and implementation of government intervention
  • Development processes and the development of industry
  • The role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability
  • e-governance
  1. applications
  2. models
  3. successes
  4. limitations and potentialcitizens charters
  5. transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  • Role of Civil Services in a Democracy  
        Social Justice
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by centre and states
  • The performance of welfare schemes
  • Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections of the population
  • Issues related to the development and management of the social sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
  • Issues related to poverty and hunger  
          International Relations
  • India and its neighbourhood
  • Relations between India and neighbouring countries
  • 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
  1. Structure
  2. Mandate  


Strategy for UPSC General Studies Paper-II:

  • Polity:  The basic concepts related to polity can be read from M.Laxmikanth. However, to make your answer more unique and stand out is by use of-
    • Supreme Court Judgements
    • Current Affairs Compilations
    • Mention relevant Constitutional Articles.
    • Recommendations of Committees and Commissions like ARC reports, important points from Sarkaria and Punchii Commission reports, Niti Aayog 3 year action agenda.
    • Social development and governance reports
    • 12th Five Year Plan snippets
    • Finance commission report 
    • Prepare thoroughly on Government policies and bills through PRS India.
    • Economic & political weekly – selected editorial commentaries
    • Make your balanced views on policies
  • Use illustrations, diagrams, maps, and graphs wherever possible. They enhance the presentation and express more content in less time.
  • Governance: Make short notes on each and every topic under Governance. Few topics can be covered from the latest edition of Laxmikanth. However, one should make good use of current affairs.
  • International Relations: Make note of all important bi-lateral and multi-lateral treaties and agreements signed between the countries. Listing core points related to those agreements will add authority to your answer. Include an analytical point of view to the answer.For this, it is advised to refer to online magazines like ‘Diplomat’ or ‘Economic or Political weekly’ or refer to notes from one of the Best IAS Institute in Bangalore.
  • Include a Multi-dimensional perspective to your answer (Technological, Economical, Strategic, Defence, Educational, Cultural, Stakeholder perspective, and so on)
  • Include important Indices. 
  • Include suggestions to improve or overcome the challenges, a way forward for each diplomatic relationship.

For detailed Notes and compilations related to General Studies Paper-II from one of the Best IAS Institute in KarnatakaClick here.

April 2024