UPSC Exam Preparation: IAS Booklist for Anthropology Optional

UPSC Mains Exam: Booklist and Strategy for Anthropology

This article deals with the complete list of books of reference and a general preparation strategy for Anthropology optional for UPSC Mains Exam. 

Book List for Anthropology Optional


  • An Introduction to Social Anthropology by D.N Majumdar and T.N. Madan for basic understating of Anthropology
  • Physical Anthropology by B M Das
  • Anthropological Thoughts by Upadhyay & Pandey
  • An Outline of Indian Pre-History
  • Social Change in Modern India by M N Srinivas
  • Modernization of Indian Traditions by Yogendra Singh
  • Other Cultures by John Beatles
  • Indian Anthropology by Nadeem Hussnain
  • Who cares for Tribal Development by N K Vaid
  • In Search of Ourselves by N K Vaid
  • Human Biology by Harrison Et.al
  • Indian Tribes by R C Verma
  • Indian Society and Social Changes of Class 11 and 12 NCERT Textbook
  • Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment – Annual Reports

Preparation Strategy for Anthropology Optional


  • Be thorough with the Anthropology Syllabus; it is advisable to keep a copy of the UPSC Anthropology Syllabus with you.
  • Read the above mentioned books based on the syllabus. Selective reading is recommended.
  • Make a list of each topic and subtopic mentioned in the syllabus and acquire a good understanding of every concept.
  • Practicing UPSC previous years’ question papers is a must. Its importance cannot be emphasised enough.By following this, the candidates will
  • know the areas to be focused in the syllabus
  • the way questions are framed
  • understand the demand of the question (why question has been asked)
  • a knack to frame the answer that meets the questions’ demand
  • Answer Writing Practice is crucial in your preparation. Practicing answer writing religiously will make it easy to frame answers during the UPSC Exam. It will also help a candidate to manage time and attempt all the questions within the stipulated time.
  • Just reading the books will not be of great help. Candidates should make their own notes, as it is proven according to scientific studies that writing down whatever one studies will stay in one’s memory for long. Aspirants should make own notes and write at least 150-200 words on each topic and subtopic mentioned in the syllabus.
  • Revision is a key part in the preparation which candidates should never forget or procrastinate.  

Answer Writing Tips for Anthropology Paper I


  • Before answering, read the question twice. Start with a proper introduction and write definitions as defined by the sociologist or anthropologist, highlight the keywords by underlining the words or phrases and conclude the answer suitably.
  • For e.g. Definition of Social Anthropology and Sociology, Cultural Relativism was asked in UPSC 2016 Mains Exam.
  • Add diagrams, flow charts or graphs wherever necessary. To enhance your answer, highlight the keywords either by circling or by underlining it.
  • Provide case studies, reports, committee recommendations, examples, facts, data etc. if the questions demand for it. But candidates should be careful while giving facts, data and other information. Some random data should not be given, as it may affect your score.

Finally, ensure that you cover the entire syllabus in depth. Also, the candidates should remember that no two individuals are same and the strategy, resources, and answer writing style may differ from others. Whatever your strategy may be, be confident and stick to it.

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