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GS 2 Notes

by Edukemy Team

General Studies Paper 2 (GS 2) in the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) Civil Services Examination focuses on the subject of polity, governance, and international relations. This paper assesses candidates’ understanding of the Indian political system, the Constitution, governance structures, and global issues. Here is an introduction to GS 2 polity for UPSC:

Syllabus in GS 2:




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


– Check Previous Years’ Constitution Questions from UPSC Mains GS 2 in the linked article

Governance & Polity

– 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


– Candidates can get the relevant Polity Notes for UPSC from the linked article


– 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


– Applications


– Models


– Successes


– Limitations and potential


– Citizens charters


– Transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures


– Role of Civil Services in a Democracy


– Check the compilation of old Governance Questions from UPSC Mains GS 2 in the linked article

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


– The Social Justice Questions in UPSC Mains GS 2 are mentioned in the linked article

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


– Structure


– Mandate

GS2 Detailed Structure

The General Studies Paper 2 (GS-2) in the UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam is known as the “Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations” paper. It covers a wide range of topics related to the functioning of the Indian government, constitutional provisions, social issues, and international relations. Here is a detailed structure for GS-2:

Part A: Governance, Constitution, and Polity

Historical Background and Making of the Constitution:


  • Evolution of the Constitution of India.
  • Constituent Assembly and its debates.
  • Key features and principles of the Indian Constitution.

The preamble of the Constitution:


  • Interpretation and significance.
  • Amendments related to the Preamble.

Union and its Territory:


  • Articles 1 to 4.
  • Special provisions for certain states.



  • Modes of acquiring citizenship.
  • Issues related to dual citizenship.

Fundamental Rights (FRs):


  • Nature, importance, and enforcement.
  • Judicial review and limitations.
  • Recent cases related to FRs.

Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP):


  • Nature and significance.
  • Conflict between FRs and DPSP.
  • Amendments related to DPSP.

Fundamental Duties:


  • Constitutional provisions.
  • Significance and critique.

Amendment of the Constitution:


  • Article 368.
  • Procedures and limitations.

Basic Structure Doctrine:


  • Evolution and significance.
  • Judicial pronouncements.

Powers and Functions of Constitutional Bodies:


  • Election Commission, UPSC, CAG, etc.
  • Role in governance and challenges.

Parliament and State Legislatures:


  • Structure, functioning, and powers.
  • Anti-defection law and recent amendments.



  • Structure, independence, and appointments.
  • Recent landmark judgments.
  • Part B: Social Justice

Social Issues and Welfare Schemes:


  • Poverty, unemployment, and social injustice.
  • Government schemes for inclusive growth.

Reservation Policies:


  • Caste-based reservations.
  • OBC reservations and debates.

Education and Health Policies:


  • Right to Education (RTE) and challenges.
  • Public health initiatives and challenges.

Issues related to Women and Children:


  • Gender inequality and discrimination.
  • Laws and policies for women and children.

Issues related to SCs, STs, and Minorities:


  • Protection of rights.
  • Welfare schemes and challenges.
  • Part C: International Relations

India and its Neighbors:


  • Bilateral and regional relationships.
  • Security and economic cooperation.

Indian Diaspora:


  • Contributions and challenges.
  • Government initiatives for the diaspora.

International Organizations and Forums:


  • Role of India in global organizations.
  • Recent developments in global governance.

Bilateral, Regional, and Global Groupings:


  • India’s role in BRICS, G20, etc.
  • Regional cooperation and challenges.

Conflict and Security Issues:


  • India’s border disputes.
  • Terrorism and internal security challenges.

Recent Developments in Foreign Policy:


  • Policy shifts and initiatives.
  • Diplomatic challenges and opportunities.
  • Part D: Other Important Topics

Government Policies and Interventions:


  • Economic reforms and social interventions.
  • Evaluation of policies and their impact.

Role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs):


  • Contributions and challenges.
  • Regulation and controversies.

Challenges to Internal Security:


  • Naxalism, insurgency, and communalism.
  • Role of security forces and policies.

Disaster Management and National Security:


  • Preparedness and response strategies.
  • Role of government and citizens.

Cyber Security and Challenges:


  • Threats and Preventive Measures.
  • Government initiatives in cybersecurity.



  • End the answer with a balanced conclusion summarizing the key points discussed in each section and providing a comprehensive view of the overall governance, constitution, social justice, and international relations scenario in India.
  • Remember, it’s essential to integrate current affairs and examples into your answers to showcase a real understanding of the issues. Practice writing answers within the prescribed time limits to enhance your time management skills during the actual exam.

Books for GS Paper 2

The books for UPSC GS Paper 2 (Main Examination) are mentioned below. 


  • Governance in India – M. Laxmikanth.
  • India and the World: Through the Eyes of Indian Diplomats by Surendra Kumar.
  • Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations – M. Laxmikanth. 
  • Introduction to the Constitution of India by Durga Das Basu.
  • NCERTs of Class XI and XII 
  • Pax Indica – Shashi Tharoor.
  • Public Institutions in India: Performance and Design by Devesh Kapur & Pratap Bhanu Mehta

How to Approach Mains Generals Studies 2


Approaching Mains General Studies Paper 2 requires a strategic and comprehensive plan, as this paper typically covers topics related to governance, polity, international relations, and social justice. Here are some effective strategies to tackle GS Paper 2:

1. Understand the Syllabus:


  • Familiarize yourself with the GS Paper 2 syllabus. Ensure you have a clear understanding of the key themes and topics covered.

2. Current Affairs:

  • Stay updated on current affairs, especially those related to governance, polity, and international relations. Regularly read newspapers, magazines, and reliable online sources.

3. Refer to Standard Textbooks:


  • Read standard textbooks that cover the GS Paper 2 syllabus. Focus on books that provide in-depth knowledge on Indian polity, governance, and international relations.

4. Make Short Notes:


  • While studying, create concise and effective notes. Summarize key points, concepts, and important facts. This will help in quick revision before the exam.

5. Analytical Approach:


  • Develop an analytical approach towards the topics. Understand the implications of government policies, constitutional provisions, and international relations on society.

6. Practice Answer Writing:


  • Regularly practice answer writing. This is crucial for time management and helps in improving your articulation of ideas. Pay attention to structuring your answers logically.

7. Previous Year Question Papers:


  • Solve previous year question papers to understand the pattern and types of questions asked. This will also help you gauge the depth of your preparation.

8. Mock Tests:


  • Take regular mock tests to simulate exam conditions. This will enhance your speed and accuracy. Analyze your performance to identify and work on weak areas.

9. Current Developments:


  • Relate current developments to the topics you study. This will make your answers more relevant and showcase your awareness of contemporary issues.

10. Revision:


  • Regularly revise what you have studied. Focus on both static and dynamic aspects. Revision ensures better retention and recall during the exam.

11. Follow Editorial Sections:


  • Read editorials in newspapers to understand different perspectives on current issues. This will help you in forming a well-rounded opinion on various topics.

12. Join Discussion Forums:

  • Engage in discussions with peers or join online forums to exchange ideas and perspectives. This can provide new insights and broaden your understanding of different topics.

13. Stay Positive and Consistent:

  • Maintain a positive attitude and stay consistent in your preparation. GS Paper 2 requires regular effort, so avoid procrastination and stay disciplined.

Remember that success in GS Paper 2 is not just about memorizing facts but also about understanding concepts and applying them to real-world scenarios. Focus on a holistic approach to your preparation, and stay committed to your goal.


FAQS on GS 2 for UPSC Mains

1. What is General Studies Paper 2 (GS 2) in the Civil Services Examination?

GS 2 is one of the four papers in the main stage of the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). It primarily focuses on Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations.

2. What is the syllabus for GS 2?

The syllabus for GS 2 includes topics such as the Indian Constitution, Governance, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations. It covers issues related to Indian polity, governance, and international affairs.

3. How many questions are there in GS 2, and what are the total marks?

GS 2 consists of 20 questions, and the total marks for the paper are 250.

4. What is the weightage of GS 2 in the Civil Services Mains Examination?

GS 2 holds 25% weightage in the Mains Examination. It is an important paper that assesses candidates’ understanding of governance, polity, and international relations.

5. What are the key topics to focus on for GS 2 preparation?

Key topics include the Indian Constitution, Indian Polity, Social Justice, Governance, and International Relations. Candidates should also stay updated on current affairs related to these areas.

6. Is it necessary to refer to current affairs for GS 2 preparation?

Yes, staying updated with current affairs is crucial for GS 2 preparation. Questions often require candidates to analyze contemporary issues in the context of governance, polity, and international relations.

7. How should one approach answer writing in GS 2?

Candidates should practice answer writing regularly. Focus on clarity, coherence, and a structured approach. Use examples, case studies, and relevant facts to support your answers.


8. Are there any specific books recommended for GS 2 preparation?

Standard books like “Indian Polity” by M. Laxmikanth, “Introduction to the Constitution of India” by D.D. Basu and NCERT textbooks on political science are commonly recommended. Additionally, reading newspapers for current affairs is essential.

9. Can one clear GS 2 with self-study, or is coaching necessary?

While coaching can be helpful, many candidates have successfully cleared GS 2 through self-study. Consistent preparation, a thorough understanding of the syllabus, and practicing the previous year’s question papers are key to success.

10. How important is time management during the GS 2 exam?

Time management is crucial. Allocate time wisely to ensure that you cover all questions. Practice mock tests to improve your speed and efficiency in answering questions.

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