Analysis | Previous year’s IAS Mains questions from IR

The aim of this post is to give you a bird’s eye view of what is usually asked in IAS Mains. Don’t fear the IR monster but be cautious about preparing it well.

We are going to pick up questions topic wise, from IAS Mains 2013 – 2015. Hope you remember the portions of IAS Mains (Paper 2) syllabus which deal with IR.

  1. India and its neighborhood – relations
  2. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  3. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  4. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

Topic: India and its neighborhood – relations

Mains 2015 –

Q. Project `Mausam’ is considered a unique foreign policy initiative of the Indian Government to improve relationship with its neighbors. Does the project have a strategic dimension? Discuss.
<China as Neighbour, considered special relevance to ques, China’s Maritime silk route and answer to string of pearls>

Q. Terrorist activities and mutual distrust have clouded India-Pakistan relations. To what extent the use of soft power like sports and cultural exchanges could help generate goodwill between the two countries? Discuss with suitable examples.
<Shiv Sena protests over Ghulam Ali’s concert>

Mains 2014 –

Q. With respect to the South China sea, maritime territorial disputes and rising tension affirm the need for safeguarding maritime security to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the region. In this context, discuss the bilateral issues between India and China.
<Remember Chinese claims, 9 dashed line [Spratlys claim] – Tension in south china sea> < The most cliched issue in foreign policy>

Mains 2013 –

Q. The proposed withdrawal of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan in 2014 is fraught with major security implications for the countries of the region. Examine in light of the fact that India is faced with a plethora of challenges and needs to safeguard its own strategic interests.
<India’s large geostrategic and geoeconomic interests in Afghanistan>

Q. What do you understand by ‘The String of Pearls’? How does it impact India? Briefly outline the steps taken by India to counter this.
<Chinese dominant intentions in the Indian Ocean region><The most cliched issue>

Q. The protests in Shahbag Square in Dhaka in Bangladesh reveal a fundamental split in society between the nationalists and Islamic forces. What is its significance for India?
<Very much in news, similar to Arab spring>

Q. Discuss the political developments in Maldives in the last two years. Should they be of any cause of concern to India?
<Arrest of president Nasheed, cancellation of GMR deal, Indian diplomacy found wanting>

Q. In respect of India — Sri Lanka relations, discuss how domestic factors influence foreign policy.
<PM’s refusal to attend CHOGM summit in SL over DMK’s blackmail was the immediate context for the question>

Q. What is meant by Gujral doctrine? Does it have any relevance today? Discuss.
<I.K.Gujral died on nov. 30th 2012, expected question>


Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Mains 2015 – 

Q. Increasing interest of India in Africa has its pros and cons. Critically examine.
<Largest gathering of African leaders in Oct, 2014 in New Delhi>

Q. The aim of Information Technology Agreements (ITAs) is to lower all taxes and tariffs on information technology products by signatories to zero. What impact should such agreements have on India’s interests?
<It was on the plurilateral agenda in the upcoming WTO talks to be held after mains exam, proves importance of cursory newspapers to follow evolution of topics even a day before mains or following newscards in 15 minutes daily>

What are newscards? Download our #1 trending android app for IAS prep!

Q. Some of the International funding agencies have special terms for economic participation stipulating a substantial component of the aid to be used for sourcing equipment from the leading countries. Discuss on merits of such terms and if, there exists a strong case not to accept such conditions in the Indian context.
<JICA funding DMIC require sourcing content from Japan>

Mains 2013 –

Q. Economic ties between India and Japan while growing in the recent years are still far below their potential. Elucidate the policy constraints which are inhibiting this growth.


Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandates

Mains 2015 –

Q. Discuss the impediments India is facing in its pursuit of a permanent seat in UN Security Council.
<Very much in news due to starting of text based negotiations on security council reforms in september>

Mains 2014 –

Q. India has recently signed to become founding a New Development Bank (NDB) and also the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). How will the role of the two Banks be different? Discuss the significance of these two Banks for India.
<In the news, proliferation of multilateral development banks, role complementary, supplementary or competitive>

Q. WTO is an important international institution where decisions taken affect countries in profound manner. What is the mandate of WTO and how binding are their decisions? Critically analyse India’s stand on the latest round of talks on Food security.
<Static portion related to dispute settlement mechanism with dynamic part being WTO decision on Indian poultry import ban from US and India’s domestic content requirement for solar panels>

Mains 2013 –

Q. The World Bank and the IMF, collectively known as the Bretton Woods Institutions, are the two intergovernmental pillars supporting the structure of the world’s economic and financial order. Superficially, the World Bank and the IMF exhibit many common characteristics, yet their role, functions and mandate are distinctly different. Elucidate.
<Static, repeat question from previous year mains paper>


Moral of the story?

  1. IR constitutes a very important part of GS paper 2 and and also GS paper 3 (cross cutting themes of terrorism and internal security challenges in border areas having linkages with neighbouring countries) with 5 to 6 very doable questions being asked every year.
  2. Questions are mostly from current hot trending topics.
  3. Knowledge of static content helps in understanding the issue better and filling in the answer but there’s no requirement of PHD in historical aspects of relationships.
  4. International organizations are important for prelims as well so do static part of international organizations well.
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By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

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