UPSC Mains Subject Wise PYQs – International Relations (2023-2013)

International Relations is an important subject that holds great significance in the UPSC Mains examination. It covers a wide range of topics, including global political systems, international organizations, diplomacy, foreign policy, and security issues. Aspirants who have opted for this subject need to have a comprehensive understanding of international relations and how it affects countries and their policies.

The International Relations mains questions from the past years’ exams will help aspirants understand the exam pattern, the weightage of different topics, and the level of difficulty of questions. By practicing these questions, candidates can identify their strengths and weaknesses and work on them accordingly. Moreover, answering these questions will also help aspirants develop a better understanding of the subject and enhance their analytical and writing skills.

Therefore, we highly recommend aspirants to go through these questions and include them in their study plan to improve their chances of cracking the UPSC Mains exam. The questions from the years 2013 to 2023 that we have compiled will not only give you an idea of the type of questions asked in the exam but also help you evaluate your preparation level. So, make sure to practice these questions and ace your International Relations paper in the upcoming UPSC Mains exam.


  • ‘Virus of Conflict is affecting the functioning of the SCO’ In the light of the above statement, point out the role of India in mitigating the problems.
  • The Indian diaspora has scaled new heights in the West. Describe its economic and political benefits for India.
  • The expansion and strengthening of NATO and a stronger US-Europe strategic partnership works well for India.’ What is your opinion about this statement? Give reasons and examples to support your answer.
  • ‘Sea is an important Component of the Cosmos’ Discuss in the light of the above statement the role of the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) in protecting the environment and enhancing maritime safety and security.


  • India is an age-old friend of Sri Lanka.’ Discuss India’s role in the recent crisis in Sri Lanka in light of the preceding statement.
  • Do you think that BIMSTEC is a parallel organisation like the SAARC? What are the similarities and dissimilarities between the two? How are Indian foreign policy objectives realized by forming this new organisation?
  • How will I2U2 (India, Israel, UAE and USA) grouping transform India’s position in global politics?
  • Clean energy is the order of the day.’ Describe briefly India’s changing policy towards climate change in various international fora in the context of geopolitics.


  • “If the last few decades were of Asia’s growth story, the next few are expected to be of Africa’s.” In the light of this statement, examine India’s influence in Africa in recent years.
  • “The USA is facing an existential threat in the form of a China, that is much more challenging than the erstwhile Soviet Union.” Explain.
  • Critically examine the aims and objectives of SCO. What importance does it hold for India?
  • The newly tri-nation partnership AUKUS is aimed at countering China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. Is it going to supersede the existing partnerships in the region? Discuss the strength and impact of AUKUS in the present scenario.


  • What is the significance of Indo-US defense deals over Indo-Russian defense deals? Discuss with reference to stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD)’ is the transforming itself into a trade bloc from a military alliance, in present times – Discuss.
  • “The incidence and intensity of poverty are more important in determining poverty based on income alone”. In this context analyze the latest United Nations Multidimensional Poverty Index Report.
  • Indian diaspora has a decisive role to play in the politics and economy of America and European Countries’. Comment with examples.
  • Critically examine the role of WHO in providing global health security during the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • What introduces friction into the ties between India and the United States is that Washington is still unable to find for India a position in its global strategy, which would satisfy India’s National self-esteem and ambitions” Explain with suitable examples
  • The time has come for India and Japan to build a strong contemporary relationship, one involving global and strategic partnership that will have a great significance for Asia and the world as a whole.’ Comment
  • Too little cash, too much politics, leaves UNESCO fighting for life.’ Discuss the statement in the light of US withdrawal and its accusation of the cultural body as being ‘anti-Israel bias
  • The long-sustained image of India as a leader of the oppressed and marginalized Nations has disappeared on account of its newfound role in the emerging global order” Elaborate.


  • India’s relations with Israel have, of late, acquired a depth and diversity, which cannot be rolled back.” Discuss.
  • A number of outside powers have entrenched themselves in Central Asia, which is a zone of interest to India. Discuss the implications, in this context, of India’s joining the Ashgabat Agreement, 2018.
  • Indian and the USA are two large democracies. Examine the basic tenets on which the two political systems are based.
  • What are the key areas of reform if the WTO has to survive in the present context of the ‘Trade War’, especially keeping in mind the interest of India?
  • In what ways would the ongoing US-Iran Nuclear Pact Controversy affect the national interest of India? How should India respond to its situation?


  • Indian Diaspora has an important role to play in southeast Asian country’s economy and societies. Appraise the role of the Indian Diaspora in South-East Asia in this context.
  • The question of India’s Energy Security constitutes the most important part of India’s economic progress. Analyze India’s energy policy cooperation with West Asian countries.
  • China is using its economic relations and positive trade surplus as tools to develop potential military power status in Asia’. In the light of this statement, discuss its impact on India as her neighbour.
  • What are the main functions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)? Explain different functional commissions attached to it.


  • What are the aims and objectives of the McBride Commission of UNESCO? What is India’s position on these?
  • “The broader aims and objectives of WTO are to manage and promote international trade in the era of globalization. But the Doha round of negotiations seems doomed due to differences between the developed and the developing countries.” Discuss in the Indian perspective.
  • Evaluate the economic and strategic dimensions of India’s Look East Policy in the context of the post-Cold War international scenario.
  • Increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in India and growing interference in the internal affairs of several member-states by Pakistan are not conducive for the future of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation).” Explain with suitable examples.


  • 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.
  • The increasing interest of India in Africa has its pro and cons. Critically examine
  • Discuss the impediments India is facing in its pursuit of a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
  • Project ‘Mausam’ is considered a unique foreign policy initiative of the Indian Government to improve relationships with its neighbours. Does the project have a strategic dimension? Discuss.


  • India has recently signed to become a founding member of the New Development Bank (NDB) and also the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). How will the role of the two Banks be different? Discuss the strategic significance of these two Banks for India.
  • WTO is an important international institution where decisions are taken affect countries in a profound manner. What is the mandate of WTO and how binding are their decisions? Critically analyze India’s stand on the latest round of talks on Food security.
  • 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.
  • The aim of Information Technology Agreements (ITAs) is to lower all taxes and tariffs on information technology products by signatories to zero. What impact would such agreements have on India’s interests?
  • 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.


  • What is meant by the Gujral doctrine? Does it have any relevance today? Discuss.
  • 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.
  • Economic ties between India and Japan while growing in recent years are still far below their potential. Elucidate the policy constraints which are inhibiting this growth.
  • 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?
  • Discuss the political developments in the Maldives in the last two years. Should they be of any cause of concern to India?
  • In respect of India-Sri Lanka relations, discuss how domestic factors influence foreign policy
  • The proposed withdrawal of the 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
  • What do you understand by ‘The String of Pearls’? How does it impact India? Briefly outline the steps taken by India to counter this.

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