How to Ace Anthropology Optional: Deep Dive into Paper II

Note: I’ve published a total of 3 blog posts on Anthropology. The first article primarily talks about my booklist and the basic approach I followed. The second discusses topic wise detailed plan for Paper I. This is the third and final one among the series, and it deals with topic wise detailed plan for Anthro Paper II.

A Bison Horn Maria from Bastar in his traditional attire

1.1 – Indian Prehistory, Indus Civilisation, Contribution of tribal cultures, etc.

  • Primary Source: Indian Anthropology Nadeem Hasnain
  • Value addition: DK Bhattacharya (Selective Reading only for this topic)
  • Diagrams: Anthropology Simplified by Vivek Bhasme
  • Prepare notes for each topic under various subheads
    • Climate
    • Tools, Tool-types, Tool-technology, Tool material
    • Practice the diagrams of tools
    • Prominent sites, their excavators, any uniqueness in the sites, etc.
    • Draw India map and locate the sites in all your answers
  • For the sub-topic “Contribution of Tribal Cultures”, I referred to  Anthropology Simplified

1.2 – Indian Fossils

  • Prepare notes for a comprehensive 15 marker on Ramapithecus, Sivapithecus and Narmada Man
  • For all answers, you should quote the archaeologist name, the site and the year of discovery and its significance
  • Draw a phylogenetic to illustrate where that particular fossil fits in the whole chain

1.3 – Ethno-archaeology in India

  • I skipped this topic for lack of time

2 – Demographic and Linguistic Profile

  • Source: Nadeem Hasnain and Brain Tree
  • Thoroughly prepare map of profile distribution – both ethnic and linguistic
  • Cram Risley’s and Guha’s Classification i.e., memorise the physical characteristics and other features of each of the race they described. Also prepare on criticism of their classification. Basically  you need to have holistic content for a 15 marker question from this section

3.1 – Indian Social System- Varnashram, Karma, Rina, Rebirth etc.

  • Core material: Indian Anthropology by Hasnain
  • You can refer to Anthropology Simplified for diagrams/schematics and value addition

3.2  – Caste system in India, Varna and Caste, Theories, Caste Mobility, Dominant Caste etc

  • Indian Anthropology by Hasnain and Internet to understand about Sociology theories little more deeply
  • You can prepare notes for easy revision. It’s a static part and so if a question comes from this section, you must answer well.
  • Have a solid grip over the works of MN Srinivas, Ghurye, Louis Dumont and other sociologists. Use internet to make in-depth notes.
  • When discussing a concept, always remember to quote the relevant anthropologist name, tribe’s name, village name, and the name of their publication. Eg: Wiser’s work on Jajmani system, Bailey’s on Tribe-caste continuum etc. Also mention scholarly criticism of that concept by other anthropologists etc. You must answer like a specialist, not a generalist.
  • Write about contemporary relevance of these social systems in Indian Society with examples to substantiate the concept.

3.3 Sacred Complex, Nature Man Spirit

  • Indian Anthropology by Hasnain
  • Also mention about BN Saraswati’s work. You can use internet for getting details
  • Link it to contemporary relevance too. Mention how when tribes that get displaced the balance inherent between NMS get disturbed.
  • Use schematic to improve presentation.

3.4 – Impact of Buddhism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity on Indian Society

  • Indian Anthropology – Nadeem Hasnain.
  • Anthropology Simplified – Vivek Bhasme
  • This is a static part. Prepare comprehensive notes for a 15 marker.

4 – Emergence and growth of Anthro in India, Contributions, etc.

  • I completely relied on Anthropology Simplified for this topic
  • Cramm important Anthropologists and their work

5.1 – Indian Village Studies etc.

  • I did not find any concrete material for this topic. I prepared very basic stuff from BrainTree.
  • Apart from it, wherever relevant I used to quote important village studies of major anthropologists like Redfield and interlink with the concepts that emerged out of their studies.
  • Also prepare scholarly criticisms of these concepts. Adding a brief line or two about the relevance of these studies on contemporary Indian society would enrich your answer.

5.2 – Linguistic and religious minorities etc.

  • Prepared completely from Anthropology Simplified
  • Wherever relevant quote Constitutional provisions regarding minorities
  • Give some contemporary relevance. For instance, when you talk about any minority community, try and quote any govt scheme specifically designed to benefit the community and its evaluation.

5.3 – Indigenous and exogenous processes of socio-cultural change Sanskritization etc..

  • Indian Anthropology by Nadeem Hasnain + Anthropology Simplified
  • Use schematic/diagrams to improve presentation (Eg: Interplay between GT and LT)
  • For Panchayati Raj and Social Change, Media and social change etc., use internet to prepare case studies

6.1 – Tribal Situation in India – bio-genetic variability etc.

  • Tribal India by Nadeem Hasnain

6.2 and 6.3 – Tribal Problems

  • Tribal India + Anthropology Simplified
  • Prepare notes from Xaxa report to enrich your answers
  • Always be mindful of being specific. Don’t just say tribes are afflicted with ill-health and indebtedness. Tell the examiner which specific tribe suffers from which problem, its underlying cause, latest statistics, govt schemes, criticisms, and way forward. Quote relevant case studies with separate side heading to draw examiner’s attention.

7.1 – Problems of SC/STs, OBCs etc, Constitutional Safeguards

  • Tribal India + Anthropology Simplified
  • Memorize all the Constitutional safeguards, articles, etc.
  • Xaxa report has excellent content for this topic.

7.2 – Social change and contemporary tribal societies

  • Source: Hasnain’s Tribal India
  • The problem with this topic is that the questions would be very generic. The challenge is to make your write answers that stand out.
  • You can do this through value addition. Memorize tribal examples, case studies and explain the specificity of the problem of a certain tribe and how it was/is being impacted by development. For instance, some tribes suffer from ill health while others from outright displacement. Be specific when you quote your examples. That’s how you make a mark on the examiner’s mind.
  • Suggest a good way forward as conclusion (Xaxa committee report has many good recommendations)

7.3 – Ethnicity, Tribal Unrest, Regionalism, etc

  • I prepared this topic from Tribal India and Anthropology Simplified

8.1 – Impact of religions on tribes

  • I prepared this topic from LP Vidyarthi’s The Tribal Culture of India
  • Value addition: Tribal India – Nadeem Hasnain
  • Cram examples and case studies

8.2 – Tribe and nation state

  • I skipped it for lack of time

9.1 – History of tribal administration, PVTGs, role of NGOs etc.

  • I prepared this topic from Tribal India and Xaxa report.
  • Names of important PVTGs, how they are defined, their location, specific problems, current statistics, govt schemes related to them must be on your finger tips. Have a rough idea of which PVTGs reside in which part of the country. Wherever relevant, draw India map to illustrate.
  • Value addition: Yojana 2014 edition on Tribals
  • Watch out for latest news/legislations related to PVTGs and quote them in your answers. PRS website is a good resource.
  • Use internet for understanding about important NGOs doing work in this sector

9.2 – Role of anthropology in tribal and rural development

  • Tribal India + Anthropology Simplified
  • Value addition: Yojana 2014 edition on Tribals
  • Write about Action Anthropology content of Paper I and the thinkers associated with it. Enrich your answer with examples and case studies in Indian context

9.3 – Contribution of Anthro to understanding of regionalism, etc.

  • Prepare a generic GS answer on each topic.
  • Quote examples of regionalism and ethnic movements (you can give any tribal movement as an example) and underlying causes
  • Way forward as conclusion

Endnote: In Anthro Paper II, you can inculcate the following things to NOT make your write up look like a GS answer.

  1. Always quote names of relevant anthropologists, their publication, tribe/village name on which they worked etc
  2. Have compilation of case studies (can be sourced from Xaxa report)
  3. Interlinkage with theories of Paper-I
  4. Contemporary relevance of the question and link it with current affairs
  5. Use diagrams/Schematics for better presentation.

My best wishes.

Note: For the benefit of UPSC aspirants, I am working on a detailed guide book on how to write powerful Essays and compelling answers (GS and Anthropology) in the UPSC exam. Subscribe to this blog to download a free chapter and to hear first when the book launches.

103 thoughts on “How to Ace Anthropology Optional: Deep Dive into Paper II

  1. Dandu Shiva Kumar

    Simply superb Anna..??
    Thanks alot for strategy.I’m waiting for ur nxt update sir
    Plz GS3 strategy Shere cheyandi ..
    Thanks once again sir.

      1. Jyoti Pandey

        Hello sir..could u pls tell me..which book of Indian anthropology by Nadeem sir has to be there are two or more books available by this name?

        1. Harsh

          Did you find the answer to your query? If yes, plz share it with me.

        2. Danish

          Indian Anthropology by Nadeem Hasnain
          Tribal India by Nadeem Hasnain

      2. Nehal

        Sir can u plc help me in my optional hw I started and hw I do

      3. Unknown

        Can you guide me on answer writing strategy for anthro?
        And best institute for test series for this, if it is necessary?

  2. harshita

    sir please post on gs strategy

      1. Souvik Ghosh

        Sir, I have read almost all your blogs from this site. I am a new aspirant, a Physics Graduate of this year, preparing for UPSC for about 4+ months. Since I am from Bengal, a place with no reliable CSE coaching (to my knowledge). TIll now I’ve just covered the basics. My 3 months actually took to understand the syllabus and system only. But, internet is my only gateway to mentor-ship. Though I started with Physics Optional, after conscientious consideration I decided to go for Anthropology(and It’s a super-interesting subject!). Your Guidance was Super-efficient and helpful.

        Sir I have this one question: People here keep telling me I can’t do it from Bengal and I must go to Delhi. But, It’s tough for me to reach Delhi this year but, I want to really crack it in this attempt, If get the direction I’ll try my best to pave the way. Is my vision too childish?

        I would appreciate your answer very much.

        Thank You Sir & Pranam.

        1. Siddhartha Biswas

          Where are you from in Bengal . I’m also from Bengal and prepare for cse … I’m fron nadia district

        2. Linkon Hossain

          Do smart study with your hard work.. no need to go to Delhi. You will lost many times in coaching centre. If needs coaching then take online and save your time.. your success will make noise and don’t hear others.

  3. sateesh

    Thank you very much. Waiting eagerly for general studies strategy.

  4. nzharsh

    Thanks Anna for sharing your strategy.
    I live in Jharkhand and most of the books of either Paper 1 or 2 aren’t available here.
    So need to buy these books online.
    Can you plz tell the book prices of both Paper 1 & 2 so that I could know if I’m not paying more than required.

    1. Admin

      You can just check them across various websites.

      1. nzharsh

        Thanks for replying, Anna.
        The Braintree material for Opt-1, I guess, belongs to an institute. Can i get it online via authenticate source?

        I’ve searched it on net and somehow the price that its showing is way too much.
        I’m unsure whether it is genuine price.

        1. ankita

          it’s available online , go a google search or search on telegram , you will get the pdf.

  5. Anonymous

    thanks anna

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Thank you.

      1. Anonymous

        Sir at the end parts u have quoted Tribal India as the referred book. Is that Tribal India by Nadeem Hasnein?

  6. Mounika

    Tnq u so much sir,I got the clarity regarding preparing and notes making

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author


      1. Abhishek

        Sir may I kñow someone with chemistry as optional

  7. Aparna Ajith

    “You must answer like a specialist, not a generalist.”- so true and an oft quoted comment of all Anthroplogy mastering dudes of Malinowski community(participant observation is my task here as well in reading this specific article).Great,Sir.Thank you?

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Thank you.

  8. Ramani

    Thank you so much sir for all the three articles on Anthropology.Along with syllabus and PYQs , your posts became a part of my preparation.

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Thanks and good luck!

  9. Neha

    Hi Sir,

    You are awesome. Thank you so much.

    Could you please answer my few questions.

    1) How come you got less marks in paper 2 compared to paper 1? What can be the possible reasons? OR how did you got better marks in p1 compared to p2?

    2) How many questions did you attempt (fully and partially) in both the paper?

    3) approx number of revisions you did? I’m asking because I’m forgetting things.

    Thank you!

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      1. I skipped Ethno-archaeology topic (as I mentioned in the post above) thinking that if UPSC asks this question, I would leave it under choice. But as luck would have it, they asked that precise question in 1d which was compulsory. I had to leave it blank. Also, I forgot to revise Austro-asiatic linguistic groups and their features, so messed up that answer completely. These 20 marks must have made the difference between me getting 147 and 160. And regarding Paper-1, I loved reading it. It was my strong area and attempted as many Physical Anthro questions I could. They helped me score 171.

      2. Attempted for 250 marks in P-1 (full, on the dot); 240 in P-2 (230 full, 10 marks vague, partial answer for Q 1b, 10 marks left blank – Q 1d)

      3. Four, I think. But for some factual topics such as Chromosomal disorders, names of tribes etc I had to revise over and over to memorise them.

  10. Rachana HK

    Sir your story is a great inspiration and congrats on your success …….can you please upload the book list for mains

  11. pramasrima t

    Anudeep …….inspiring personality

  12. Anonymous

    Thank u sir this was really helpful,…sir plz share which focus Android app u were saying to increase the concentration while u were in seminar in Hyderabad

  13. Anonymous

    I wish your optional was Sociology. 😀

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Hahaha. Favourite comment here. 😀

      1. Abdul Rizwan

        What about Public Administration
        As u have first that

  14. Veereshwari

    Hehe.. 😀
    ‘Best’ and ‘Favourite’ comment tags 😀
    Wish I could add these as my achievements 😛

    Thank you sir 🙂

  15. nitish

    Anna, Whether We Have to Start Preparing Paper 1 and Paper 2 Simultaneously Or Separatly ?

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Finish Paper -I first before starting Paper-II

      1. Rahul Rawat

        Thank you for this clarity

        1. Arijit Pal

          Sir, how did you finish all that starting from January.
          Can you please suggest some timeframe references.

      2. Anonymous

        Sure sir.. Thnk god u are there for help❤

  16. Lakshmi Priya

    Congratulations sir!?..

    Thank you so much for detailing the entire strategy for GS mains and Anthropology..

    It is very very helpful for most of aspirants like me.. Hats off for your Great efforts sir..

    Your notes became part of my preparation.. Can you please provide your notes for Anthropology for which I am eagerly waiting about..

    Thank you sir!

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      I did not have the time to make notes for Anthropology. I read and revised directly from the books mentioned above.

  17. Anonymous

    Hello sir…what would be better …to study optional along with gs from starting of preparation days or to study first all gs papers and then the optional

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Either way is fine as long as you finish them both before the exam, leaving ample space and time for revision.

      As for me, I read both optional and GS simultaneously.

  18. Amir sidik

    Sir, Can you please show us how to make notes for optional or isn’t necessary at all? If you made any notes, please upload it.

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      I did not have the time to make notes for Anthropology. I read and revised directly from the books mentioned above.

      1. Prabhat Singh

        And Still people says “Immortals doesn’t Exist”

  19. Srikanth Mandava

    Hi sir, As u did for gs y dont u post u r hand written notes for anthropology.. pls sir it will help us a lot.. pls..

  20. Geetanjali Joshi

    Sir, can you please upload the diagrams particularly for archaeology. Thank you in advance.

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author

      Didn’t maintain any particular book for diagrams. Just practised them on rough papers which I haven’t preserved.

  21. Anonymous

    Hii anna how to prepare essay topic

  22. Anonymous

    Can you tell me the strategy

  23. Vasanthalakshmi

    Thank you so much Sir, am very thankful for you

  24. Chinmaya

    Sir. is it compulsory to read the NCERT’s for Biology?

    1. Anudeep Durishetty Post author


  25. Ashish Tripathi

    Thank you sir for your precious guidance…will follow thoroughly…. Warm Regards.

  26. bhawna

    sir from where i can prepare case studies for paper 2..?

  27. Raasam Surya

    Hii anna .cant able to manage static and dynamic part simultaneously. Can u say how did u managed to read them parllely(anna konchem meru first upsc preparation stage lo ela manage chesaro cheppagalara?).what sources did u followed for CA?

  28. Swanki

    I got clarity regarding books but as i never ever studied anthro and i m good in biology in my 12th class.So i m thinking about this as optional.

    1. I am confused about it to pursue as my optional as never studied earlier.Give your suggestions plz.

    2. Whether these books will suffice to cover all topics or any coaching notes needed?

  29. Arya

    Sir i want to ask that coaching for anthro is necessary for getting concept clarity or is it easy to understand topics at home after studying?

  30. Neha 12345

    Sir plzz share u r optional notes..:)

  31. Ashok NA

    Thank you Brother .

  32. Anonymous

    Sir please share pdf of your notes and coaching notes please in my state notes not available

  33. ramchandra saw

    sir please help me regarding the book for anthro optional as the beginer

  34. Ramanan M

    Dear topper, is any optional subject scoring in nature or the aspirant who scores well? Critically discuss?

  35. Anonymous

    Sir which book will be good for previous year question?

  36. Priyashree Pal

    Sir, thanks a lot for the insight. Please tell us how much time you took to prepare for Anthropology and how many times did you revise before and after prelims? Please answer , it will help us devise our strategy accordingly.

    Thanking you in anticipation.

  37. Anonymous

    Sir can you please tell how many days is required to complete paper 2

    1. Ramu Gj

      2 months

  38. Manish Jha

    Sir do we need to read the full report of xaxa committee ?

  39. Anonymous

    Anna can you please suggest me mentor for Anthropology

  40. Anonymous

    Hi sir from where can i get the Anthropology brain tree material as only photo copy is available online on different sites kindly advise.

  41. Mugdha bagul

    Hello sir. Can one alone prepare for anthropology or should go for sosin maam classes(hydHydera)?

  42. sid

    bro can i finish the optional with dedicated preparation(self study ) of 2 months?
    if so how should my approach be (should i cram the syllabus and look into the pyp (tried but not able to understand) or start making notes based on pyq and syllabus.)

  43. Varun

    How one should choose his optional subject????? Please reply

  44. akshay

    hi can someone help me with anthropology simplified book im not able to find it anywhere

  45. Amit Kumar

    Hello Sir,
    First of all congrats for you great success.
    I am looking for Test Series Answer Copies of yours, but Did NOT find it anywhere. Can you please help me by providing the Link OR uploading here.

    Thank you Sir.

  46. Jyothsna

    Hello sir kindly upload your anthropology answer booklets if any available with you.
    Thanks in advance.


    hello sir please share your optional notes.

  48. Gaurav Sharma

    Sir, I am an LLB graduate. However, I have realised writing answers in law subjects is not really my cup of tea as I find it utterly BORING. Making notes for it is boring. Just getting an overview of what I have studied in law is what has helped me sail through my exams.

    Now, I am planning to take anthropology optional. First, what is your opinion on this situation I have? Second, should I begin this preparation for anthropology Optional before my GS Preparation?

    Planning to take my first attempt in 2021. Thanks in advance.


    I am very happy to see u being appointed as assistant collector of BHADRADRI KOTHAGUDEM which is known for its rich cultural heritage, scenic and beautiful greenary;innocent ,loyal and united tribal people and home to black gold(coal) etc. and is also infamous for social evils like illiteracy,child marriage,unhygienic water, lack of awareness regarding diseases..and so on. I hope u will address some of the problems and show some right path to them. One imp. thing is that students studying in government schools are very talented and strong both physically and mentally ,they would be highly motivated if you organise special programmes like career guidance and oppurtunities after schooling done. No wonder one day you will see these students cracking the upsc exam. Thank you so much for your guidance and one more thing is this district is a laboratory to experiment innovative ideas once successful ,they will be sustained eg:plastic ban in bhadrachalam . ALL THE BEST

  50. Anand Chandrasekhar

    Respected sir, am looking forward to clear upsc with anthropology as my optional. am seeking guidance from your blog and also bought your book to get a clear idea to write answers through your guidance. But unfortunately covering the topics as per the syllabus according to the mentioned books i found it very difficult to find certain topics which are mentioned in the syllabus in the mentioned book by you. for eg: while covering the topic human evolution from p nath i found it very difficult to search and find which topics to read and which to avoid as per the syllabus, i can’t find topics such as parallelism in p nath but they were given in Braintree material, and while looking for other topics it took too much time and am worried wheather i miss any important topics which should be read. sir please find some time to guide me, i believe without proper guidence i will stood in front of nothing kindly respond sir.

  51. sindhu

    Hello Sir, may I know which upsc optional has more pictorial representation, diagrams, flowcharts for engineering background students apart from graduation subjects?

  52. Yinrigsemyang

    Hello sir , In your recently published book “Fundamentals of answer and essay writing”
    You said you have embedded diagram list in this blog ….but I couldn’t find it !…why?

  53. Prabhat Singh

    Dear Sir if you read my comment ever , I would like you to be my mentor (Directly) I know it’s not possible for you nowadays as you might already guiding many pupils ,but still “A little hope is like a dope “.

    Actually I shortlisted anthropology as optional and hoping someone to guide me on Google and I finally found the master.

    Your content is simply “Amazing” ,you explain very Emphatically .

    Yet I ask your Guidance with hope ,I have very few last chances left to appear in CSEs and Unfortunately I never appeared before (2020) (having some Tough lesson in Life )

    Thanks and regards
    Prabhat Singh

  54. Anonymous

    Sir kindly tell to what extent XAXA repot to be read.
    Do it need to read cover to cover?
    If u have made notrs , kindly share

  55. Anonymous

    Hello sir iam from korutla which is very near to yours native place sir please I need your guidance to become an ias officer
    2020 iam pursuing 12th class in GOVERNMENT COLLEGE economically week but I want to crack this exam in 2024 . How can I ?
    Sir, I hope you repaly this.

  56. Vineesha Kondari

    thank you sooo much anna. you had given topic wise in very detailed manner for optional subject.
    I inspired from you to write this exam. Thanks for being such an inspiration for me.
    Once again thank you anna for sharing your experience, booklist and your strategy to get this rank.

  57. Anonymous

    Thank you so much sir.
    I wanted to know which test series i should opt for anthropology?Thank you in advance sir.

  58. Nandani Kumari

    Hiii sir, can you tell me which coaching joined for Anthropology

  59. Anonymous


  60. poooja

    Can I score good in Anthropology optional if I study without coaching and test series??

  61. Ruchika

    Well Sir I know you won’t be having time to read and reply to each one of our comments on this blog but any day if you get to see this I would like to let you know that your blogs and write ups really play an important part of my preparation and several others as we can see here.

    They tell us what to follow that too topic and sub-topic wise…that’s very rare to get from any website.

    I am following your blog since then even when I wasn’t really preparing for UPSC.

    May you be blessed with abundance for all your selfless deeds and may God help you out in everyway possible.
    Thank you.

  62. Joseph

    How do you quote case studies in answer? Just the important conclusions of so and so study?

  63. Preeti Singh


    1.I’m going to begin my preparation for anthro. So as you total suggested 5 books, 1.P.nath ….2. Vivek bhasme…. 3.nadeem h.(3 books)….. 4. BRAIN tree(4 parts)……5. L.p vidyarthi…so should I buy latest version of all these 5?….I’ll be preparing for 2023.

    2. As I haven’t read any N.P in 2021 should I buy monthly compilation of a institute and revise multiple times?along with the 2022 CA.

    Sir Please answer,!!🙂

  64. Mohammed Shabaz

    Hii Anna
    I have completed my paper 1 syllabus and jumped into paper 2 now. But its seems messed little bit.
    I’m getting confused on how to start paper 2 chronologically.
    Please help me out brother.

    Thank you Inspirer

  65. Bheem

    Sir pls share your booklist link …
    I m confusing with new edition or the books used by you
    Hope i can get answer sir .

  66. Ravi

    sir can u pls share some of ur anthropology answers

  67. Anonymous

    Sir, we wants anthropology notes.


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