Political Science is opted by many IAS aspirants as Political Science is a popular subject at the undergrad and post-graduate level. No wonder I receive so many requests to share the most useful political science books for IAS Mains. On this page I suggest the 8 most recommended books for Paper 1 and Paper 2 syllabus of Political Science optional for IAS exam. Get each and every book to cover the subject in detail.
Political Science Paper 1 Books
1. History of Political Thought – Plato to Marx
Before starting out with any subject you should first get a grasp of its fundamentals and its no different with Political Science. History of Political Thought by Mukherjee and Ramaswamy explores the concept of Political Theory in detail including the different perspectives like political theory as a history of political thought, as a technique of analysis, etc. It then explores the key theoretical concepts in political theory before proceeding to discuss key concepts like Positivism and Behaviouralism. And this is just the first chapter.
The core of History of Political Thought explores the views of different political thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Rousseau, Karl Marx and others. This covers Section A syllabus in different measure like political theory, theories of the state, and political ideologies. The language of this book for political science is straight forward and easy to grasp without too many high sounding terminologies. A recommended read.
2. Introduction to Political Theory by O.P Gauba
Books of every Mains subject like Public Administration, Sociology or Geography have one or two definitive books by a renowned author that you just cannot afford to skip if you wish to score well in your chosen subject. The same holds true for Pol Science.
Dr O.P Gauba is a highly respected author and authority figure in Political Science. In Introduction to Political Theory Gauba discusses the concepts of State, Sovereignty, Law, Power, Citizenship and other core concepts of Political Science in detail. O.P Gauba’s language is very reader friendly and he breaks down seemingly difficult concepts to levels that beginners to Political Science can easily grasp.
But Introduction to Political Theory is not just limited to concepts rather it goes much beyond. It discusses Marxist and Democratic theories, ponders over current issues like globalization, and elaborates on Gandhian concepts of sustainable development. An added bonus is that O.P Gauba has provided maps, flow charts and illustrations to put his point across. This will be all the more useful for IAS aspirants. A must read book for Political Science.
3. Political Theory: An Introduction
Another good book which complements Dr O.P Gauba’s book on political theory. Political Theory is written by Rajeev Bhargava and Ashok Acharya and is a step towards making students do and evolve an Indian political theory, that is, theory born out of reflection on and engagement with Indian social and political practices. Political Theory will help IAS Aspirants to cover the syllabus relating to Indian political thought.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=”Recommended Books for Prelims and Mains”] Get the complete list of Recommended Books for General Studies Prelims and Mains Papers. [/thrive_text_block]
4. Indian Political Thought: Themes and Thinkers
If you glance through the Political Science syllabus you will realize that Indian Political Thought is a separate topic in Paper 1. Thankfully, Indian Political Thought by Mahendra Prasad and Himanshu Roy seems to be written with the civil services exam in view. This book covers all the major schools of Indian political thought from the time of Kautilya and Manu.
Indian Political Thought then elaborates prominent political thinkers like B.R Ambedkar, Gandhi and others in detail. Another recommended book for political science for IAS mains.
5. Indian Polity by Laxmikanth
The Political Science syllabus covers a large portion of the polity portion of general studies papers of Prelims and Mains exams, which is quite good as in this case you do not need to refer multiple books on polity. Rather Indian Polity by Laxmikanth is quite sufficient for covering the polity syllabus which includes Salient Features of the Indian Constitution, Union and State government, Panchayati Raj and 73rd and 74th Amendments, Statutory Institutions/Commissions. All these topics are dealt comprehensively by Laxmikanth in his excellent book on Indian Polity.
6. Politics in India by Rajni Kothari
The last book for political science I recommend for paper 1 is Politics in India by eminent political scientist Rajni Kothari. This book traces the evolution of the party system in India, coalition politics, social base and ideologies that influence and impact politics in India. Politics in India also touches upon the aspects of caste and class in Indian politics which is also part of the paper 1 syllabus.
Political Science Paper 2 Books
Political Science books for paper 2 will be very useful for GS and Essay papers as well. After all, paper 2 deals with International Relations and International Organisations which are important topics in GS paper 2 as well. So covering this part will take care of an important portion of GS paper as well.
7. Does the Elephant Dance? Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy
David Malone in his book Does the Elephant Dance? takes a detailed and close look at the pros and cons in the current foreign policy that the nation follows, while drawing from various historical instances that the writer feels is still driving its present stand on the world stage. The book will also examine internal issues that are plaguing the country from within, such as domestic politics and internal security issues, and finally internal economic factors. Since the book was written in 2014 it explores the latest foreign policy trend adopted by India vis-a-vis its neighbouring countries and the world at large and also analyses how far India has shifted from the Nehruvian principles of non-alignment. Does the Elephant Dance is a must read book for Paper 2 syllabus of Political Science.
8. International Organisations, Conferences and Treaties
The paper 2 syllabus of Political Science focusses on United Nations and regional organisations and India’s relations with them like SCO, ASEAN, BRICS, SAARC etc. So you need one comprehensive book to know about these organisations and the basics of India’s approach with these international groupings. Spectrum’s Book on International Organisations , Conferences and Treaties covers this part of the syllabus in detail.
If you feel there are too many books to go through, remember many of these books will also be useful for GS paper 2 apart from Essay and Interview. So get going with these useful books for political science.