Suggested Reading for Civil Services Mains (Optional) Examination: Anthropology

Suggested Reading for Civil Services Mains (Optional) Examination


Paper 1:

Paper 2:

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Q. 1. I was planning to opt Anthropology but feel quite apprehensive after revision of its syllabus. Can I manage the new syllabus ?

Ans. The syllabus, despite the best efforts of UPSC and its coterie of experts, has become more scoring. This is more true if you had been targetting biological anthropology portion. If you were inclined to opt for anthropological thought (hitherto section II-B), you shall have to make slightly greater efforts to score as much. Now scoring over 400 marks may not be too difficult.

The revised syllabus of Paper-I can be presented as follows:


1. Meaning and Scope,
2. Biological Evolution : Theories, Processes and Primates,
3. Cultural Evolution,
4.Social Institutions : Marriage, Family & Kinship,
5. Society & Culture : Theories & Concept,
6. Religion,
7. Economic Institutions,
8. Political Institutions,
9. Anthropology of Development,
10. Research Methodology.


1. Genetics & Evolution,
2. Race,
3. Physiological Anthropology,
4. Ecological Anthropology,
5. Ethnicity,
6. Human Physical Growth,
7. Reproductive biology,
8. Applications of Biological Anthropology in a nutshell, there is no denying the fact that the syllabus has been revised but much of it seems to have been done to check the ever-growing popularity of the subject. Now judge yourself whether it is manageable or not .

Q. Anthropology is quite new to me. How should I go about it ?

Ans. Like every new subject, the first thing to do is to understand fundamentals including terminology. A good Dictionary of Anthropology (e.g. McMillan’s) and basic books (e.g. Haviland or Ember & Ember & NCERTs) should be really helpful. Further preparation with the help of books (given in the table) should not pose much problem. Besides, if you feel the need, you can seek the study-material from a coaching institute.

Q. Does Anthropology require a special strategy to score well in the exam ?

Ans. Not in the real sense; but realising the fact that Anthropology, by its origin, is oriented scientifically, the answers should be pin-pointed and to the point. For this you should have good practice of writing answers and getting evaluated from some-one who not only knows the subject but also understands the requirements of this particular exam. Otherwise, you seek the advise from ten persons and you will, more likely, encounter eleven opinions.

Q. What is your last word about the new syllabus ?

Ans. The previous syllabus (pre-1995) was one of the smallest ones but, because of stagnation, had become less scoring too. The new syllabus (of 1995) was about 25 percent more in quantity, (but almost same at conceptual level), yet it was at least 10 percent more scoring. The latest syllabus is much more scoring and scoring 200 marks in Paper I now is not too diffifuclt a task. With this
knowledge, opting Anthropology as second optional for Mains is not a bad bargain.

Book List:

Paper I (Part I) (Upto Topic 7)

1. Beattie : Other Cultures
2. Beals & Hoijer/ : An Introduction to Anthropology
3. Haviland : An Introduction to Anthropology
4. Vaid : Economy and Social Relations
5. U.S. Mishra : An Introduction to Social-Cultural Anthropology (in Hindi)
6. Mishra & Hasnain : Unifying Anthropology
7. Honigman : The World of Man
8. Herskovits : Cultural Anthropology
9. Majumdar & Madan : An Introduction to Social Anthropology
10. Sagar Preet : Basic Concepts in Sociology and Anthropology
11. Abhik Ghosh : Meetings with the Other (on Fieldwork Techniques)

Paper I (Part II)

1. Harrison et. al : Human Biology
2. Shukla & Rastogi : Physical Anthropology & Human Genetics
3. Stein & Rowe : An Introduction to Physical Anthropology.
4. Vaid & Pandey : Jaivik Manavshastra (in Hindi)
5. B. Janusch : Origins of Man
6. Virender Kumar : Evolution of Genus Homo
7. Surender Nath : Forensic Anthropology
8. Surender Nath : Nutritional Anthropology
9. M. Harris : Rise of Anthropological Theory
10. U.S. Misra : Anthropological Thought (in Hindi)
11. Herskovits : Cultural Anthropology
12. Booklet published by Jawahar Publishers

Paper II

1. NCERT : Indian Society, Social Change
2. Bhattacharya, D.K. : An Outline of Indian Prehistory
3. Srinivas : Caste in India & Other Essays
4. Srinivas : Social Change in Modern India
5. Y. Singh : Modernisation of Indian Tradition
6. Vidyarthi & Rai : Tribal Cultures of India
7. N. Hasnain : Indian Anthropology
8. N. Hasnain : Tribal India
9. R.C. Verma : Indian Tribes
10. Vaid : Who Cares for Tribal Development (Hindi & English)
11. A.L. Basham : The Wonder that was India
12. G.S. Bhatt : Bharatiya Samajik Vichar (in Hindi)
13. Sagar Preet : Reservation for Backward Classes a Perspective

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