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UPSC ANTHROPOLOGY STRATEGY: by Kirthi Chekuri (Rank – 14, Anthro Marks 275, CSE – 2015) – Diagrams, Case Studies and Tips on Presentation


Detailed Strategy by Kirthi Chekuri (Rank – 14, Anthro Marks 275, CSE – 2015) – Diagrams, Case Studies and Tips on Presentation


Sources I’ve followed for Anthropology

Paper 1 Socio-Cultural Anthropology – Muniratnam Sir Printed material, Braintree notes

Paper 1 Physical Anthropology – Muniratnam Printed Material, Braintree and P. Nath

Paper 2 Indian Anthropology – Tribal India Nadeem Hasnain, Indian Anthropology Nadeem Hasnain, Muniratnam Printed material, Braintree

I did not cover these books from cover to cover. I’ve selectively read them based on the topics mentioned in Syllabus. I would suggest having one material/source as a base and then just extracting information/examples/case studies/diagrams regarding that topic from other books in case the content for that topic needs to be enriched.

As long as you can cover the entire syllabus, which books or how many books you follow will not make much difference in my opinion. To get that extra edge in marks, I would strongly suggest focusing on answer presentation instead of reading more and more books.

Answer Presentation

As in GS, what ultimately translates into marks is how you present your answer to the examiner. With the same content/knowledge, some would get more marks in the exam due to better presentation. The reason for my good marks in Anthropology in CSE 2014(271 marks) and CSE 2015(275 marks) is due to focus on presenting the same content or knowledge that everyone else had in a better manner.

I found this article by RajaGopal Sunkara extremely useful and I followed the tips given in the article religiously.

I’ve made the following broad changes in my answers that I think made the difference

  • Side headings: As RajaGopal opined in the above article, they give structure to your answer and makes your answer more readable, presentable and likeable. I had side heads for all the questions (10/15/20 marks)
  • Diagrams: I’ve attempted questions in the exam that had scope of diagrams/flow charts in them. That included more physical anthropology questions. And also wherever possible I drew diagrams/ figures. Try to include flow charts/ diagrams/ figures/ maps etc. in as many answers as possible. They’re sure to make your answers look better and these small incremental changes in my opinion make a huge difference in your marks.

I’ve come across this list of diagrams somewhere:

  • Case studies: In paper 2, there are many questions, which are very generic, which can be asked in GS1. To make your answers different from GS answers, a friend of mine suggested writing case studies for such questions. I’ve collected case studies for all generic topics in paper-2 and quoted them in my answer. Instead of quoting many case studies in a single sentence in your answer, I had case study as a separate side heading in the end under which I elaborated. This case study would occupy approx. 1/4th – 1/3rd of my answer.

Have case studies ready for all the generic topics in the Paper-2 so that you can readily quote them on questions on the day of exam. Also have case studies ready for all the generic questions in paper-2 from previous year chapter wise question papers. That’ll also ensure that you have structure ready for all probable questions. Case studies could be picked up from internet/ Nadeem Hasnain/ Newspaper (Vedanta POSCO for FRA)

I’ve mentioned the topics for which case studies are to be collected and some case studies in this link.

  • Examples/ Definitions/ Studies: For questions on marriage/family/kinship etc., it’s important to remember a few definitions given by famous thinkers. For questions on socio-cultural anthropology, make a note of examples of tribes you come across while reading (Law and Justice/ different types of descent groups/ Forms of exchange etc. Studies by famous anthropologist can be quoted. For eg. Paulin kolendas made some observations on Joint Family.

Incorporating all these in your answer, in my opinion, would definitely give you that extra edge. Following Chapter Wise Previous Year Question Paper is a must. I used to do all the value additions mentioned above to the previous year questions. Instead of just going through syllabus and reading books, following previous year question papers will channelize your efforts and help in making structured and enriched answers. So, instead of just reading a particular topic, doing those questions will help you make specific value additions (side heads, flow charts, diagrams, examples, case studies etc.) to the answer you’ll otherwise miss in reading.

Value additions on some questions


  1. Paleolithic Culture (10 marks, CSE-15) – Age, Culture, Geographical distribution, Tools could be side heads. Draw maps under geographical distribution and tools
  2. Longitudinal method of studying growth (10 marks, CSE-15) – value addition by drawing this graph

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  1. Horticulture (10 marks, CSE-15)- Side heads of Population density, Polity, economy, religion etc. can be used; Can draw a small map suggesting geographical distribution if you know enough tribes across India.
  1. Double descent (10 marks, CSE-14)- Examples should be given and should draw descent group; Taken from Muniratnam printed material.

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  1. Archaeological Anthropology (10 marks, CSE-2015) – A basic flowchart suggesting 3 branches of Archeological anthropology and side heads such as scope, research methodology etc. can be used. Below is the flow chart taken from Muniratnam printed material. It doesn’t have to be this elaborate but any basic flow chart would do

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  1. Tribe caste continuum (10 marks, CSE-2014) – Elaborating on one example, drawing a continuum with tribe at one end and caste at other with some features.
  1. Elucidate the skeletal differences between humans and chimpanzees (15 marks,CSE-14) – Can draw a table showing differences between humans and chimpanzees along with diagrams for Skeleton, Skull etc.
  1. Discuss Ageing and Senescence (20 marks, CSE-14). Describe either the biological or social theories of Ageing – A flowchart for different ageing theories and this one taken from P. Nath can be used in answer.

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Case Studies

Topics in Paper-2 for which case studies could be collected

5.2 Linguistic and religious minorities and their social, political and economic status.

5.3 Panchayati raj and social change; Media and social change.

6.2 Problems of the tribal Communities – land alienation, poverty, indebtedness, low literacy, poor educational facilities, unemployment, underemployment, health and nutrition.

6.3 Developmental projects and their impact on tribal displacement and problems of rehabilitation. Development of forest policy and tribals. Impact of urbanization and industrialization on tribal populations.

7.1 Problems of exploitation and deprivation of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. Constitutional safeguards for Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes.

7.2 Social change and contemporary tribal societies: Impact of modern democratic institutions, development programmes and welfare measures on tribals and weaker sections.

7.3 The concept of ethnicity; Ethnic conflicts and political developments; Unrest among tribal communities; Regionalism and demand for autonomy; Pseudo-tribalism; Social change among the tribes during colonial and post-Independent India.

8.1 Impact of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and other religions on tribal societies.

9.1 History of administration of tribal areas, tribal policies, plans, programmes of tribal development and their implementation. The concept of PTGs (Primitive Tribal Groups), their distribution, special programmes for their development. Role of N.G.O.s in tribal development.

9.2 Role of anthropology in tribal and rural development.

9.3 Contributions of anthropology to the understanding of regionalism, communalism, and ethnic and political movements.

Some 15/20 markers questions from 2015 paper-2 for which case studies could be elaborated.

  • Examine the social implications of media and communication technology – I’ve written the case study of Community Radio Initiative of a certain tribe in Jharkhand
  • Discuss the impact of Hinduism on the status of tribal women in Central India – case study for this could be picked from Tribal India(Nadeem Hasnain) or searched online
  • Discuss the impact of globalization on village economy in India – Impact of Monsanto and others in Indian villages and farmer suicides can be used?
  • Recently non-government organizations have been critiqued for interfering, with developmental process in tribal heartland. Critically comment.(9.1)
  • Discuss the sociocultural, economic and psychological constraints responsible for low literacy in tribal areas (6.2)


CASE STUDIES for some topics

Panchayat raj and Social Change

  • Combating the adverse CSR through Gram Sabhas” – The Bibipur Experience

A small village in the district of Haryana; Sarpanch has held the first ever Mahila Sabha on female foeticide, Women committed to the cause of the girl children have been selected as volunteers, and all pregnancies registered within the first trimester; One panchayat member and volunteer would keep a check on clinics and any case would be brought to immediate notice of police;  helped in reduction of CSR;

The real potential of Panchayati Raj as envisaged by Gandhi can be realized if the disparities and stratification systems based on class caste and gender , and the influence of the dominant castes in the working of PRIs are addressed.  

– Empowering Women. Bhuvneshwari Netam, Sarpanch, Balargaun, Chattisgarh

Netam personally address women at Anganwadi centres on matters related to maternal care,child birth, child care, breast feeding etc. Efforts to make women self sufficient in buying seeds, farming and selling the produce; Earlier villagers defecate in the open, now samuhik shauchalays built by the panchayats ( women do not suffer from the dignity) Panchayats runs schemes to enable differently abled to access financial assistance and education. Also in reclaiming land that was encroached 80 years ago converted to a community complex.  This panchayat has witnessed increased participation of women and the credit for this openness and responsibility with which women contribute is due to the Sarpanch being a woman 

  • Selfie with Daughter

Forest Rights Act

Positive case studies

Niyamgiri in Odisha- Khonds – asserted their rights to conserve culture and community traditional practises under the FRA and PESA; No bauxite mining;


Kadars in pallakad dst in Kerala – no access to tradtiional forest reserves – honey cultivators – Non implementation of FRA

Globalisation/ Christianity

It is a fact that the Nagas and certain other North-East tribes opposed very much the entry of Europeans in their areas particularly the missionaries. Today almost 95% Nagas,99% Mizos,80% Khasis,94% Garos have embraced Christianity. Have the tribals of north-east lost their identities? The answer is both yes and no. Those who embraced Christianity, they have lost their nature-centric religion, but they have gain a lot in some other way. In other words, the tribals of north-east have immensely benefited by embracing Christianity. Christian missionaries not only converted them but also set up the best English medium schools, colleges, dispensaries, hospitals and other charitable homes. The numbers of civil servants, university and college teachers, engineers, doctors etc. are increasing day by day. The Bonda tribe of Orissa till yesterday didn’t have a matriculate. Only recently the student from Bonda tribe passed matriculation compared with the number of North East tribals in universities.

Media and Social Change

Jharkhand Community Radio Initiative

Best practices

Success story of MFP activity can be used for many questions in paper-2 (Impact of govt. programs on tribals/ Discuss the nature of social change in tribal India under the impact of developmental programmes) 

Some success practices in this page can be used for questions on TRIFED/ Cooperatives etc.

Case studies can also picked up from Nadeem Hasnain Tribal India


Download them HERE (200+ mb)