International Relations UPSC Notes: Syllabus, How to Prepare IR Notes for UPSC?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

International Relations UPSC is an essential portion of the IAS exam and is included in GS Paper 2. Understanding the development of India’s foreign policy, India’s relationships with other nations, the changes in the international arena, and India’s roles and responsibilities concerning influential international organizations are all made more clear by studying international relations UPSC notes.

You will find an overview of the international relations and events section, preparation tips on approaching it, and a list of the best books here. Also, check the detailed international relations UPSC syllabus in this post.

International Relations UPSC

How to read International Relations so that one may comprehend the topic and perform well in the UPSC exam is a complicated question for all aspirants. The term alone contains the answer. Relationships between India and the principal nations of the world (including neighbouring countries) are known as international relations. Students must try to grasp India’s relationships, roles, and obligations toward the rest of the globe.

The study strategy for international relations UPSC will be covered in this post, along with a summary of the syllabus, a reading list, tips for taking notes, and a list of everything significant for international relations and events.

International Relations UPSC Syllabus

The International Relations section is covered in GS Paper 1 of the prelims and GS Paper 2 of the mains UPSC exam. The detailed international relations syllabus for UPSC is provided in the table below:

International Relations UPSC Syllabus
International Treaties and Conventions India and Neighbourhood India and Central Asia
International/ Inter-governmental Organizations India and Europe India and Africa
India and Geopolitics India and Oceania Bilateral Relations

International Relations: Iran Nuclear Deal

As part of the “Atoms for Peace” program, the United States helped Iran in the 1970s with its nuclear program. Even as a non-nuclear weapons state, the Shah of Iran signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1968 and ratified it in 1970. Everything changed after the Iranian revolution destabilised the nation’s nuclear program and caused a significant exodus of gifted experts. As per International Relations experts, there was no longer any chance for American support because the new regime overtly opposed them.

With aid from Pakistan (which signed a bilateral agreement with Iran in 1992), China (which did the same in 1990), Russia (which did the same in 1992 and 1995), and the A.Q. Khan network, Iran resumed its nuclear program in the late 1980s. Despite Iran’s claims that its nuclear program was for peaceful reasons, Western nations and its Middle Eastern allies believed otherwise.

International Relations: World Cities Culture Forum

In 2012, the World Cities Culture Forum was founded in London with only 8 member cities. There are 43 member cities for WCCF as of April 2021. It is an important concept with which candidates must be familiarized to prepare International relations UPSC notes well. WCCF enables the decision-makers of member cities to exchange information, conduct research and examine the crucial role that culture will play in their continued growth.

BOP Consulting oversees all of the WCCF’s operations. BOP tracks the value and effects of culture and creativity so that appropriate decisions and policies may be made. Through a calendar of activities that includes workshops, regional summits, and themed symposia, forum participants collaborate. These occasions provide content for the yearly World Cities Culture Summit.

By 2030, two-thirds of the world’s population will reside in cities due to rapid urbanization, which will impact the international relations of countries. Governments are dealing with difficulties that are getting more complicated at an unprecedented rate of change. Many of our time’s most important policy concerns, from combating climate change to advancing social equality, are being led at the local level instead of at the national level.

International Relations: India – Bangladesh

Now we will discuss the International Relations between India and Bangladesh. On March 26 and 27, 2021, Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi travelled to Bangladesh to celebrate Bangladesh’s Golden Jubilee of Independence, the 100th birthday of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Bangladesh. In 2021, India and Bangladesh celebrated 50 years of diplomatic ties.

Events commemorating “Mujib Borsho,” the centennial of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth and the founding president of Bangladesh, were held by India. Earlier in September 2020, in honour of Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations, Bangladesh released a stamp in his honour.

International Relations UPSC Notes: India – Pakistan

In February 2021, India and Pakistan jointly announced that they would uphold the 2003 ceasefire along the Line of Control for the first time in years. The nations have agreed to abide by all agreements, understandings, and ceasefires along the Line of Control (LoC) and all other areas beginning at midnight on February 24–25, 2021. To create a durable and win-win peace along the borders, the two Directors General of Military Operations decided to address each other’s key issues and concerns that frequently disturb the peace and ignite violence.

India reaffirmed its “Neighbourhood First Policy.” It expressed a wish for normal relations with Pakistan in an atmosphere devoid of terror and bloodshed in the bilateral brief between India and Pakistan held in February 2020. The bilateral relations suffered a serious blow as a result. Pakistan then kicked out the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad and suspended air and land communications and commercial and railroad services.

International Relations between India and Afghanistan

India and Afghanistan have long-standing and close bilateral relations. The two countries participate in several regional alliances, including the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). According to the MEA, a five-year Treaty of Friendship was signed in January 1950 by Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, and Mohammad Najibullah, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India at the time.

Given that India is currently the fifth-largest donor of development aid to Afghanistan with its full commitment, the developing relations between India and Afghanistan have become more significant since 2001. India is now Afghanistan’s most prominent regional aid donor, contributing between $650 and $750 million in humanitarian and economic support.

India’s assistance and International relations extended to the restoration of air routes, the construction of power plants, the funding of the health and educational sectors, and the aid in the instruction of Afghan civil workers, diplomats, and police.

International Relations: India – Mauritius

India–Mauritius International relations refer to the links between the Republic of India and the Republic of Mauritius in terms of history, politics, economy, the military, social life, and culture. These two nations first established diplomatic ties in 1948. Through the successive occupations of the Dutch, the French and the British, Mauritius maintained connections with India. After Mauritius gained independence on March 12, 1968, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the country’s first prime minister and regarded as the “Father of the Mauritian Nation,” gave India a prominent place in the country’s foreign policy.

Mahatma Gandhi briefly stopped in Mauritius from October 29 to November 15, 1901, while travelling from South Africa to India. This brief stopover left a lasting impression on the island nation. On Gandhiji’s advice, Barrister Manillal Doctor travelled to Mauritius in 1907 and assisted the island’s Indian community in organising itself, laying the groundwork for their fight for political and social rights.

International Relations UPSC: India – Oman

International Relations between the Republic of India and the Sultanate of Oman have been characterized by commerce and interpersonal connections since antiquity. Several defence, cultural cooperation, and economic agreements strengthen ties between India and Oman. India and Oman share a rich cultural heritage.

International Relations between India and Oman are also supported by the vast number of Indian expatriates who live in Oman and occasionally organize cultural events there. Higher education is popularly pursued in India by Omani students, and in recent years, an increasing number of medical tourists from Oman have entered the nation. Additionally, Oman has been attempting to market itself as a travel destination in India.

International Relations between India and Bhutan

India-Bhutan international relations have historically been strong because the two nations have a unique bond based on shared cultural values and objectives. India’s foreign, military, and commercial policies continue to influence Bhutan. Bhutan has maintained its independence for most of its history by remaining cut off from global events because of its mountainous terrain.

When it signed a treaty with the British Empire in 1910, it began its first bilateral international relations and gave the British Empire control over its defence and foreign policy. One of the first nations to recognise India’s independence in 1947 was Bhutan. Following that, both nations developed close connections.

India’s “Himalayan Frontier” security policy was based on its international relations with Nepal and Bhutan, but after China annexed Tibet, the two nations became closer. Jawaharlal Nehru visited Bhutan in 1958, reaffirming India’s support for independence. He added that India would view any attack on Bhutan as a war crime.

International Relations: India – Japan

India and Japan are allies in pursuing world peace and equitable development. They are also interested in enhancing Asia’s security, stability, and prosperity. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Japan and India made the decision to take their International Relations to a qualitatively new level. India and Japan now share a similar global perspective on peace, security, and prosperity based on sustainable development.

The foundation of the two nations’ International Relations is their commitment to human rights, pluralism, open societies, the rule of law, and shared democratic principles. The global relationship between India and Japan reflects a comprehensive convergence of their long-term political, economic, and strategic interests, goals, objectives, and concerns.

International Relations: India – Australia

The international relations between India and Australia are positive since both nations are committed to democracy and pluralism. Both nations are currently members of the British Commonwealth and were once a part of the British Empire. The people of both countries are united by several shared characteristics, including their love of cricket and the English language. Robert Menzies was the first Australian Prime Minister to travel to India following Australia’s independence in 1950.

He had previously backed India’s republican entrance to the Commonwealth. The two nations created a “Strategic Partnership” in 2009, and have improved their International relations. A K Antony visited Australia for the first time as India’s defence minister in 2013. A few months after being named PM, in November 2014, the current PM, Narendra Modi, paid a visit to Australia.

The value of the two countries’ bilateral commerce as of 2016 is A$21.9 billion. International relations have increased considerably since 2003, when the amount was A$ 4.3 billion. In 2011–12, India exported commodities worth A$ 2.49 billion to Australia and imported goods worth A$ 13.11 billion from that country.

International Relations: India – Maldives

In terms of race, language, culture, religion, and trade, India and the Maldives have had long international relations that are warm and intricate. India was one of the first countries to acknowledge and forge diplomatic connections with the Maldives when they achieved their independence in 1965. India established a CDA-level mission in 1972, and in 1980 it appointed a resident High Commissioner.

One of only four diplomatic outposts in the world at the time, the Maldives established a full-fledged High Commission in New Delhi in November 2004. International Relations between them fortify the geopolitical, security, and economic links between the two geographically and economically dependent South Asian neighbours. The president of the Maldives paid a visit to India in August 2022. The visit occurred during a difficult period for the country and its shared neighbour, Sri Lanka, experiencing political unrest and an economic collapse.

How to Prepare International Relations Notes for UPSC?

The most dynamic and difficult subject for the UPSC is International Relations (IR), according to some. It is part of the General Studies Paper 2 in the UPSC Mains syllabus. This topic cannot be avoided because every year, GS Paper 2 contains questions worth around 100 marks from the IR segment. Here are some useful preparation tips for International Relations UPSC notes:

  • You must be familiar with the International Relations syllabus for the UPSC Mains before beginning the topic. You should read the IAS syllabus thoroughly.
  • Different approaches work for international relations, in contrast to other topics where it is advised to finish one reading of the syllabus before consulting the questions from the previous years. Before beginning your study for this subject, you must review the UPSC previous year question papers.
  • You may learn about current events by reading the newspaper. You’ll need a newspaper to prepare for India’s foreign policy. One of the top newspapers for coverage of India’s connections with foreign countries is The Hindu.
  • Without understanding the background, such as the events that occurred after the independence era, the Cold War and the non-alignment era, the wars between India and Pakistan and China, the fall of the USSR, the 9/11 incident, and everything that followed, you will not be able to comprehend the importance of events happening now globally.
  • It is crucial to read a current affairs magazine once a month. We occasionally overlook certain newspaper themes or cannot grasp the message an article is attempting to convey. BYJU’S current affairs magazine summarises all the news and articles and does it in easy English.
  • As soon as you have a firm grasp of the subject, you should start composing mains answers daily. You can start by answering the questions from prior years. You can also gradually speed up the procedure. The quality and areas covered will improve with daily practice. You will receive extra points for more engaging replies.
  • It’s crucial to review the notes you’ve taken regularly. Additionally, you should update the notes following global events.

Best Books for International Relations UPSC

The following is the list of best books to prepare for International Relations UPSC for the upcoming exam:

International Relations Books Publisher/ Author
Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy Rajiv Sikri
Global Politics Andrew Heywood
Understanding International Relations Chris Brown and Kirsten Ainley
Oxford Handbook of Indian Foreign Policy David M. Malone
International Relations Vinay Kumar Malhotra
Theories of Comparative Politics: The Search for a Paradigm Reconsidered Ronald H. Chilcote
Important Notes for UPSC
Paramilitary Forces Doctrine of Lapse
Air Act 1981 Coalition Government In India
Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana UPSC Principal Organs of UN
8th Schedule of Indian Constitution Coastal Plains of India
Colonialism Army Chief of India
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