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Anthropology Strategy

Neha Kumari, Rank – 26, CSE – 2014

DISCLAIMER: Dear friends, I secured 271 marks in Anthropology. This was my first
attempt and, like many of you, I was clueless about the subject before filling
notification. I did not take any classroom coaching for the optional subject and
depended entirely on self-study, guidance from a friend and feedback on answer
writing (Vaid’s Test Series).
I am no expert in this subject, I have just shared how I prepared Anthropology
because many wanted to know about this. Hope it will be useful.

My optional preparation was mainly done from Mid September 2014 to December
2014. (balancing between GS test series at Insights offline classes). Hence it
might NOT be the best strategy in an ideal case.

Moreover due to paucity of time, for the initial reading I stuck to basic notes by
Braintree. Then I tried to read the specific book for particular section and finally
made short notes/highlighted those important pages in the book itself.
Please customize my strategy as per your requirements, preparedness and
time availability Thank you.

Basic Requirement
1) Please sit with the syllabus and previous years question bank. You will realise that
most of the previous year questions have been repeated number of times. Hence it is
very important to cover the syllabus along with clarity of understanding as well as
making 200-400 words of notes on each sub-topic.
For this I tried to follow this method ( one senior aspirant’s strategy):
In a separate notebook, I divided syllabus of each section into 10 to 12 parts each.
Then I noted down one topic. Under this topic, I wrote down all the questions asked in
previous years. I completed this exercise for all topics.
Then made short notes of each topic. Notes must be concise crisp. Please remember
these notes are useful for only for the person who has made it. So please don’t
ask others for their notes as notes are only pointer to the information we read in
books and materials.

I bought Braintree (BT) and Vaid sir (VS) materials. We are not supposed to go
through entire material, they are there for ready reference.
PART – 1
Physical Anthropology
Though I entirely depended on Braintree material for this section, if time is available I
would suggest the following:
 P Nath -( some topics are not at all useful, please avoid them) – Must buy
 Das – few topics are really good – Desirable
 Vaid Sir’s Notes
So for every topic in this section first go through P Nath and VS thoroughly. Now
make notes and mug them up. If a question is coming then ideally one should
recall entire 100-200 words of the notes. Even if you can recollect 60% then also
we will get at least 50% marks
Fossil Evidence:
 S Das
 Photocopy of one booklet (40 – 50 pages) in Vaid Sir’s – It is must – summary of
each fossil with evolution tree and proper easily reproducible diagrams are given.
Here no need to make separate notes. For most of the topics just enrich this
booklet with information you get from other sources.
Please Visit: http://anthropology.ua.edu/cultures/cultures.php
For this section I depended on Vaid Sir’s Socio-Cultural Anthropology book and the
remaining topics from Braintree material.

Take one theory at a time, make notes from both of above sources and memorise them
on same day. It will take 2 hours daily for ten days and believe me you won’t require
anything else.

(P.S.- While doing the theories, I was feeling like doing a PHD on each of them, but
after it was over once I felt really good and confident about them.)
PART – 2
Socio Cultural Anthropology:Introduction to Socio-cultural Anthropology by Dr N K
Vaid, recently revised, Palka publications
This book is very good. No need for making separate notes.BrainTree notes are good
and crucial for topics not covered in the above book.Though I heard about Ember and
Ember I could not find time for it and hence left that book altogether. Some topics are
good in Ember and Ember (For example, Segmental Lineage, Chart for Band vs
Tribes vs…. ) If we have time then for this section, then Ember and Ember can be
referred. I didn’t find this book important for any other section.Indian Anthropology
Books:Usually no need to refer notes for this section.
 Nadeem Hasnani

For topics like ST SC OBC their backwardness and welfare, newspapers are
important and 12th FYP relevant chapters are must.
Archeology :
The book mentioned above covers this section also.
Archeology and Theories are the core of Anthropology and I personally believe that if
attempted, questions of this section fetch more marks and creates good impression.
Here we must make notes of sites, Indian archaeologist associated with
them.Tribals:Friends, being from Chota Nagpur plateau this was my forte. I really
enjoyed reading this part.
 Referred mainly to Nadeem Hasnani’s Tribal Anthropology.
 N.K Vaid’s “Who cares for tribal development” can also be very helpful.
Last year January Yojana article completely covered tribal issues, planning related
problems, Forest rights etc.This was very useful for me.
For basics we must know the various tribes of various regions, their special traditions,
diseases prevalent in them, their socio economic status, problems of tribes in general
with latest concrete data. Any new policy affecting or for tribes must be thoroughly
I still feel I could have planned better for my optional which could have fetched me
better marks. I had skipped the Fossil Evidence chapters due to lack of time and
revision. But Anthropology paper was kind and gave us an opportunity to write good
Again I would like to point out that the excessive answer writing practice for optional
(Vaid Test Series), Anthropology Answer Writing Challenges (Insights), General
Studies papers through insightsonindia.com , Secure, Daily Tests were helpful when
writing answers as paper 2 was of general nature.
Overall as an optional Anthropology has been a life saviour for me and has beautifully
bailed me out. I hope it does the same for you.
Neha’s Marks Sheet:
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Devendra Kumar
Rank 97, CSE 2016
Anthropology Marks 312

Anthropology – A Brief Introduction

Kluckhohn writes, Anthropology can be compared to a mirror into which man, without any
labels of primitive or civilized, may look to understand and appreciate his own unbound
physical and cultural variety.
Simply put, Anthropology studies man, in totality. It studies evolution and diversity among
humans from social, cultural and biological point of view in an integrated fashion. For
various historical and other reasons, the focus of Anthropology has been mostly on the study
of tribes (at-least in the syllabus). You will learn more about these reasons once you opt for
Anthropology, like all other optional subjects, will require an in-depth study from wide and
diverse sources. If you find the syllabus interesting (refer UPSC notification for complete
syllabus), I would definitely recommend you to take Anthropology as an Optional.
Also, please keep in mind that it is almost impossible for me to write down everything I have
read in 2.5 years in one article, although I’ll try my best to include all the key points.
Please do read strategy suggested by RajGopal Sunkara (here) and Kirthi Chekuri (here)
before proceeding to read this article.
The article is broadly divided into following parts
 Part one, Basic Book List and Other Resources
 Part two, Answer Writing
 Part three, Case Studies
 Part four, Paper 2, Anthropology, CSE-2016 Sample Answers (Key Points Only)
 Part five, Note taking
 Part six, Conclusion and some other miscellaneous information.

First, Basic Book List and Other Resources*

Paper – 1
 Social – Cultural Anthropology
 An Introduction to Social Anthropology – D.N Majumdar and T.N. Madan (for basic
understating of Anthropology)
 An Introduction of Social Cultural Anthropology – N.K Vaid
 Introducing Sociology – N.C.E.R.T Class 11
 Anthropological Theories (Link)
 Principles of Pre historic archaeology
 “Measuring Time” (Chapter 2) of Indian Prehistory by D.K Bhattacharya
 Prehistoric culture
 I read it from Wikipedia : Prehistory , Prehistoric Art ( But I would request you to
read more from other source)
 Biological Anthropology
 Physical Anthropology – P. Nath
 Biology Class 12thC.E.R.T
 K Vaid Printed Notes
 Research Methods
 K Vaid Printed Notes.
Paper 2
 Prehistoric Indian Culture
 S Sahay and Pradeep K Singh (This book has a concise summary of complete
Prehistoric Indian culture; therefore I read from it and prepared a one page note,
have shared it below. But I think it is currently unavailable in market. Other books
you can refer for this topic are Indian Anthropology by Nadeem Hasnain or Ancient
India by R.S Sharma (old NCERT) or D.K Bhattacharya or any other source.
 Indian Society
 Indian Anthropology – Nadeem Hasnain
 Indian Society – Class 12thC.E.R.T
 Social Change and Development in India – Class 12thC.E.R.T
 Tribal India
 Tribal India – Nadeem Hasnain
 Report of the High Level Committee on Social-Economic, Health and Educational
Status of Tribal Communities in India(Xaxa Committee)
 Tribal and Marginalized Communities – January 2014 edition of Yojana.
*Some Comments
 I read the books based on the demand of the syllabus. I rarely read a book from cover to
cover. Only selective reading is required for most of the above mentioned books.
 Please feel free to add/drop resources mentioned above. For example, some students
prefer to read Ember and Ember, Ram Ahuja, B.M Das etc. Some may prefer BrainTree
material or Muniratnam printed material over Vaid Sir’s Material. Point to keep in mind
is that no topic in syllabus should be left uncovered and should be covered in sufficient
depth with good understanding.
 Also the list above is not exhaustive. There are many other books from which I read one-
two chapters only, borrowing them from my friends. For topics like caste, I discussed
them with my friends having Sociology and Political Science as Optionals. Again the
idea is simple, cover topics with sufficient depth.
 Buying all the material may be expensive, hence share among your friends.
Second, Answer Writing
Answer writing in Anthropology especially Social-Cultural Anthropology can be little tricky.
As part of Society, we know what marriage, family, kinship, religion etc. means. But the
challenge is, our world-view is limited because we tend to look at these institutions from the
prism of that part of society of which we are part of. It is therefore important that while
writing about these social institutions we give definitions by Anthropologists/Sociologists,
give ample and diverse examples, quote case studies so that a broader picture is depicted in
our answers.
Practise Answer writing; otherwise it will be difficult to complete paper in exam. Answers
should be written in proper paragraph format (unlike in GS wherein I preferred point format)
consisting of Introduction, Body and Conclusion/Way Ahead.
Format for answer writing for questions related to Social-Cultural Anthropology, Biological
Anthropology, Indian society and Tribal India is broadly the same. However, I’ll divide it
into four sections so that relevant examples can be given for each section.

Paper 1
Social – Cultural Anthropology
1. Introduction, among other things, can include Definitions, preferable as given by
anthropologists/sociologists, as per the demand of the question. Example, define Social
Anthropology and Sociology ( Q 1(a) Paper 1 CSE-2016) ; Cultural Relativism (Q 1(b)
Paper 1 CSE – 2016) etc.
2. Use of diagrams, flow charts etc. For example, in a question related to Prehistory, World
Map showing various sites across world can be drawn. Similarly, tool diagrams can also
be drawn.
3. Case Studies wherever possible. As discussed below, Criminal Tribes Act can be
discussed on question related to Cultural Relativism and Ethnocentrism. Similarly, if a
question comes on Relationship of Anthropology with Medical Science/Behavioural
Science, following example can be given (Link)
Biological Anthropology
1. Introduction, among other things, can include definition as per the demand of the
question, like that of Forensic Anthropology (Q 5(e) Paper 1 CSE -2016),
Epidemiological Anthropology (Q 7c Paper 1, CSE – 2016),Genetic counselling (Q 7(b)
Paper 1 CSE-2016).
2. Please try to draw as many diagrams as possible. Use technical/scientific terms in
3. Case studies (if possible). P Nath, for instance, contains a few case studies related to
genetic effect of consanguineous marriage and cousin marriage. Similarly this case study
can be quoted on a question in Epidemiological Anthropology.
Paper 2
Indian Society
1. Introduction, among other things, can include definitions, like that of Caste (Q 1(c) Paper
2 CSE-2016), Ethno-archaeology (Q 1(d) Paper 2 CSE-2016), Regionalism (Q 5(a)
Paper 2 CSE-2016) etc.
2. Flowcharts and diagrams will help. For example on question on various traditional
patterns of settlement I drew diagrams of linear, scattered and clustered settlement
patterns (Q 3(c) Paper 2 CSE-2016). Similarly Map of India and tools can be drawn on
question on Mesolitic findings (Q 1(a) Paper 2 CSE-2016)
3. Case Studies, Reports, Committee recommendations, Examples, Facts, Data etc., as per
the demand of the question should be given. Will help a lot, especially on questions
related to Caste; Impact of globalisation on Indian villages; Media and Social Change;
Social, Political and Economic status of religious and linguistic minorities.
4. Gather views of sociologist and anthropologists like M.N Sinivas, S.C Dube, Rajani
Kothari etc. on various topics like caste, religion etc. Take help from your friends having
Sociology as an Optional.
Tribal India
1. Introduction, among many things, can include data, facts, definitions etc.
2. Flow chart, diagrams helps. For example, diagram can be drawn depicting various
factors responsible for exploitation of Scheduled Caste in India (Q-7(a) Paper 2 CSE-
2016) and then these factors can be explained in detail along with case studies.
3. Case Studies are very important for this section of Syllabus.
4. Conclusion can include Way Ahead, Recommendations, Step being taken by
Government etc.

Third, Case Studies

Case Studies are extremely important in Anthropology. I tried to include as many case
studies, wherever it was possible, including for some answers in Paper 1. Some
examples/case studies, for questions in CSE-2016, are listed below:
 On question on Cultural Relativism (and Ethnocentrism), I wrote about Criminal Tribes
Act, on how the act equated civilization with sedentary life and hence classified several
nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes as Criminals by birth, thus stigmatising a complete
section of society and their generations to come. Hence, why Cultural Relativism is
 On question Epidemiological Anthropology as one of the case study, I quoted following
article by National Geography, How the Fight Against Ebola Tested a Culture’s
 Impact of industrialisation on STs on population of Jharkhand(Question 5(c) CSE 2016,
Paper 2), I gave case study by Tribal Research Institute, Ranchi (given in Xaxa
committee report, refer Page 290)
 Impact of tribal development programme and plans on social transformation among
tribes(Question 7(a) CSE 2016, Paper 2), one of the case study I gave was related to
PESA implementation in Kamayyapeta in Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh and
resultant social transformation among tribes (Google:- PESA, Left-Wing Extremism and
Governance: Concerns and Challenges in India’s Tribal Districts, Ajay Dendekar and
Chitrangada Choudhary; for the report)
Case studies should be properly quoted. I tried my best to quote the person/institution that
has done the case study. So for example, I read a case study studying Impact of
Industrialisation on tribals in Jharkhand in Xaxa committee; however Xaxa committee has
itself quoted it from a research done by Tribal Research Institute, Ranchi. I would try to
remember and quote TRI, Ranchi and not Xaxa committee. If unable to recall, Xaxa
committee can be quoted.
Therefore try to collect a good data bank of case studies, for almost complete Paper 2 and
also Paper 1(wherever you think it is possible.)
Some places you can look for are:
 Xaxa committee
 The Hindu
 Websites like DownToEarth, TheWire etc. Consider following links Forest War , Caste
Issue, Eight out of ten claims made by Tribals for land rejected by state
 EPW online. Just go through index and check for articles that you think are related to
Anthropology. Read only those articles. I did not read complete EPW (for GS purpose)
due to paucity of time. For example, Consider this article : Concept of ‘Tribe’ in the
Draft National Tribal Policy
 Refer to Ministry of Tribal Affairs website for Data, Facts (Link) related to Tribes and
also case study related to some successful interventions (For example, this page- Link ).
 Ask Google
Fourth, Paper 2- Anthropology-CSE 2016 Sample Answers (Key Points Only)
Following key points are produced from memory. I might have written extra or less points,
then those mentioned below. Answers were written in paragraph format.
1(a) Mesolithic finding:
 Introduction :- Time Period, Map with key Mesolithic sites, Tools(diagram), Climate
 Body : – Key findings from Belan Valley
 Conclusion:- Summed up everything
3(b) Give a critical assessment of ‘Negrito Problem’ in India
 Introduction: Briefly Introduced Race, Guha’s Racial classification for India (names
only), Characteristics of Negrito Race.
 Body: Views of De quaterfages, Hutton, Guha, Sarkar, Majumdar, Eickstedt.
 Conclusion: Broadly agreeing with Sarkar’s view
(Refer P.Nath book)
5(e) Anthropological interpretation of ethnic and political movements
 Introduction: Defined ethnicity as defined by Phadnis, wherein he summarised ethnicity
under five heads, a) subjective belief in real or assumed historical antecedents b)
symbolic or real geographical centre c) shared cultural emblem such as race, language
etc. d) self-ascribed awareness of distinctiveness and belongingness to the group e)
recognition of others of group differentiation.
 Body: Gave various anthropological interpretation i.e Primordialist approach,
Modernization and development approach, Marxist and neo Marxist approach. (from
Vaid Sir’s Printed Notes)
7(c) Impact of tribal development programmes and plans on social transformation among
 Introduction: Briefly wrote about Article 46, vision of our forefathers wrt. Tribes in
independent India, and subsequent Government of India intervention in tribal
development programmes.
 Body: Broadly divided Plans and Programmes under Political, Social, and Economic sub
heads. Under Political head covered PESA and FRA. For PESA gave case study of its
implementation in Kamayyapeta in Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh and its positive
impact (discussed under sub head Case Studies). Under Social covered various
programmes like Ashram Schools, Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship etc and their
impact on educational status of tribals (data and facts included). Under Economic head
covered, NSTFDC, TRIFED, TSP etc. and their impact on economic status of tribal(data
and fact) , giving a successful case study (discussed under sub head Case Studies)
 Conclusion/Way Ahead: What more steps can be taken (Xaxa committee contains many
recommendations which can be given here).
8(b) Write in detail various provisions provided by Constitution of India for Scheduled tribes
under Vth and VIth Schedule.
 Introduction: Briefly explained need for/idea behind Vth and VIth schedule
 Body:
 Vth Schedule provisions : Role of Parliament, Role of Governor, Role of President,
Role of Tribal Advisory Committee.
 Critical evaluation of Vth Schedule: Critique of Role of Governors and TAC(from
Xaxa Committee)
 Vth Schedule provisions: Legislative Power, Judicial Powers, Financial Powers of
District Councils. Powers of Governor and President.
 Critical evaluation of VIth Schedule: (from Xaxa Committee)
 Generic issues: Lack of proper understanding, State government maintaining
parallel developmental apparatus etc.
 Issues with District Councils in Assam, like, disparity between legislative,
financial and judicial powers of three councils in Assam. Bololand Council, for
example, has more administrative power compared to other three but no judicial
 Issues with District Councils in Meghalaya, for example, Restriction in power of
ADC of Meghalaya as legislation passed by State Government take precedence
over those passed by Council.
 Issues with District Councils in Mizoram, like, not getting sufficient attention
from State Government,
 Conclusion/Way Ahead
 Recommendations, as given in Xaxa committee.
Five, Note Making
Try to prepare short notes for every word in the syllabus. Chose a style you are comfortable
with: in notebooks, in loose sheets, online in Evernote, or simply marking them in books.
This will help in quick revision during Mains exams. While preparing notes try to note down
definitions, examples, diagrams, case studies, facts, data, reports, views of
anthropologists/sociologists/political scientists (on topics like caste, religion) etc.
Following is a two page note of Indian Pre-history I prepared from Sahay and Singh. This is
just for reference purpose, you many not be able to understand what is written here.
Lastly,Conclusion/Miscellaneous Information
Practise answer writing. In my last attempt, I left question worth 80-100 marks
unanswered/partially answered despite knowing the answers very well. Use of diagrams,
flowcharts will help you communicate more information using fewer words and also help
save time.
Quoting Anthropologist, Sociologists, Various Reports, Case Studies, Examples, Facts etc.
shows you are well read and that your answer is well researched. A proper Introduction,
Body, Conclusion format will provide a neat structure to your answers.
Anthropology, like all other Optionals, will require in-depth study; therefore, it is important
that you take up Anthropology if you find the syllabus interesting.
Lastly, no two individuals are same. You may have a completely different strategy, book list,
answer writing style which may be equally good or even better. If you find that comfortable,
stick to it. To repeat myself, just ensure, that complete syllabus is covered in sufficient depth.
Hope, the above article helps you. Wishing you the very best.

Topper’s Strategy: Sharath Chandra

Arroju AIR 425, Doctor (MBBS),
Anthropology Optional Strategy,

Sharath Chandra Arroju

RANK : AIR 425

Hello friends!

I am really excited to be able to share this testimonial-cum-strategy article with you all on
INSIGHTS platform. Firstly, I would like to dedicate my success to my mom Dr.R. Madhavi
and dad Dr. A. Krishna Murthy, this would just have been impossible without them. I would
also take this opportunity to make a mention of few important people. – Samatha,
Sangamitra, Santhosh, Bharath, Arun, Vijay and Abhilasha.

How it all began and ended?

I gave my first attempt from Delhi and I only managed to clear prelims then. My second
attempt was from Hyderabad and this time I cleared mains too and missed the final list by 13
marks. The third attempt was from Bangalore (proved to be my lucky charm) and this time
I’ve made it into the final list with a decent rank (I’ve already completed part of my Bharat
Darshan moving from one place to other) Since my first attempt, I’ve been taking only baby
steps clearing only one step as attempts progressed. This is clearly because of lack of
guidance. Im fortunate that I got associated with Vinay Sir and INSIGHTS IAS and I was a
member of their core batch. I would like to specially thank Vinay Sir for his guidance and for
his valuable inputs in reshaping my GS answers and reforming my approach to Ethics Case
Studies (in which papers I really scored low marks in my previous attempts)
Strategy for Anthropology Optional

I had shifted to Anthropology for my second attempt as i did not feel comfortable with public
administration( no offence to Pub Ad optional people). I did not take any coaching and did
self study and scored 250/500 ( paper 1 – 121, paper 2- 129) in 2015 attempt and 312/500
(paper 1- 143, paper 2 – 169) in 2016 (I could not attempt 20 marks due to poor time
management in paper 1). And yes here i have to admit that MBBS background did help me.
But that help is only to a limited extent. I’ve scored more in paper 2 both the times which is a
non-biology part. I hope this breaks the myth that science background people will
automatically get very good score due to physical anthropology and also proves that
Anthropology is anybody’s optional and there is scope for getting good marks for non
science people also.

This is what i’ve done as a part of my preparation for Anthropology :


Books that I’ve referred to are BrainTree material Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, Telugu Academy books
on physical anthropology, Introduction to Socio-Cultural Anthropology by D.N.Majumdar.


Indian Anthropology by Nadeem Hasnain, Tribal India by Nadeem Hasnain, Vol.3 of

Braintree material, Muniratnam Reddy sir’s notes on paper 2.

What helped me reaching a high score?

The below mentioned points are what i’ve tried and what proved to be successful. I would
recommend that the aspirants do try out some of these :

Paper 1:

1) Interlinking Paper 1(p1) with Paper 2(p2) . Lets say the question is on functionalism in P1
– Here at the end of my answer I would write “functionalism in Indian aspect” also.

2) Diagrams for physical anthropology and for tools of various cultures are mandatory

3) Writing current affairs and conclusion EVEN IF NOT ASKED. lets say the question is on
Homo erectus, I would put a heading at the end of my answer “Current significance” and
write about any recently discovered human fossils in 2-3 lines.

Paper 2 :

1) Interlinking with paper 1. I used to link it with theories part especially

2) Value addition using points from Virginius Xaxa committee report, Main Bhi Bharat
Series in Rajya Sabha TV presented by Mr.Shyam Sundar, Current affairs from The Hindu,
news clippings posted on Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

I strongly suggest the candidates to make notes while preparing as it helps you in revision.
The GOLDEN MANTRA for succeeding at Anthropology is not just revision but multiple
revisions without much gaps between revision.


In 2014 and 2015 prelims I had cleared the cut off by a small margin only. I used to worry if
I can clear prelims or not and this seriously affected my mains preparation. Then when
appearing for prelims in 2016, I decided that I should get a very good score that I need not
worry about clearing the cut off at all so that I can focus solely on Mains. Eventually I
ended up getting 140 + . Apart from regular static books like NCERT, Spectrum,
Laxmikanth, Bipan Chandra, it is highly and strictly recommended that one should focus
more on current affairs and a good test series. Here test series by INSIGHTS was very
useful to me. It was my confidence booster. I managed to top 6 out of 8 of their full length
tests at the offline center and was scoring in comfortable 150+ range. This confidence helped
me a lot on the day of prelims(August 7th 2016). I did not worry about taking risks and
attempting 90+. I had fun solving the paper and honestly I felt that I was solving another

Insights paper
Few suggestions for aspirants from my side. Of course you are at full liberty to ignore them.

1) Firstly, differentiate between interest and seriousness. Interest alone in cracking civil
services will take you no where. .only seriousness will.

2) Choose your optional not just out of your interest alone, think practically and choose that
which fetches marks also.

3) Not Just Hard Work, but smart work also is needed to an extent. It is very important to
know what not to read than what to read. Then your job becomes easier.

I see that it’s quite a long write up already . I wish you all , all the very best towards
upcoming prelims exam. Try to believe in yourself, keep pushing yourself. All of us will
have our share of failures, we may face a lot of tensions and stress due to failed relationships,
jobs or not able to clear prelims or mains, family problems or whatever it is. But one thing is
for sure, success will follow for sure, if you keep persisting in right direction.

Anthropology – by Mohammad
Roshan (Part 1/2)
Here’s the strategy of my friend Mohammad Roshan for his optional Anthropology and I
thank him on behalf of the aspirants. Following is the text written by the man himself.

First of all let me take this opportunity to congratulate my dear friend C M Saikanth Varma
(AIR 18) for his tremendous success in the Civil Services examination.

Optional subject:
Optional subject means that one has choice. One must exercise one’s choice with a lot of
care. Choice of optional is very important in civil services as one may end up appearing for
this exam more than once. Interest towards the subject must be the driving force while
choosing an optional. Also, other factors include availability of teachers, mentors and books.
Anthropology was all that and much more for me. Therefore, my choice. This attempt I
scored 288 marks out of 500 in anthropology. There is no short cut to this subject. If one
wants to crack this exam with Anthropology as their optional then one must be a Subject
Matter Expert in Anthropology. Here’s my way of studying this wonderful subject. Let’s
take the bull by the horns. I believe that we must start with the tough topics first, get a foot
hold and later just breeze through the simple topics. In this write up I will deal with Paper
1 and very soon another write up on paper 2 will follow.

1. I would recommend everyone to start with Paper 1 Chapter 2.1 The Nature of
Culture: The concept and characteristics of culture and civilization; Ethnocentrism vis-
à-vis cultural Relativism and 2.2 The Nature of Society: Concept of Society; Society
and Culture; Social Institutions; Social groups; and Social stratification. For these topics
please refer Ember and Ember Anthropology published by Pearson. Chapters to be
covered include Chapter 13 and chapter 19.
2. After this, please read Chapter 6 anthropological Theories; Read Ember and Ember
Chapter 14 for a broad understanding of the theories and later read History of
anthropological thought by V.S. Upadhyay and Gaya Pandey. Even after this many
topics like structural functionalism and Cognitive theories may not be clear. I will take
up these topics at the end of this write up.
3. After this Read paper 1 Chapter 7. Culture, language and communication: Nature,
origin and characteristics of language; verbal and non-verbal communication, social
context of language use. Read Ember and Ember Chapter 16. Now that we have a foot
hold on the broad concepts of anthropology, we may look at a few other and more
interesting topics.
4. Now Chapters 2.3, 2.4, 2.5 and Chapters 3,4 and 5 that is marriage, Family, Kinship,
Economic Organisations, Political Organisations and Religion. For these topics I
attended Dr. Lakshmaiah Sir’s online classes. They were quite helpful. Topics like
marriage also cover topics from Anthro Thought like structural Functionalism. One may
also refer to the book written by Dr. Lakshmaiah sir on these topics.
5. Now let’s take a look at Chapter 1.3. We have already covered socio cultural
anthropology and linguistic anthropology. What remains in Archaeological anthropology
and biological anthropology.
6. Let’s now start with archaeological anthropology. For this I would recommend one to
combine paper 1 and paper 2, that is both World and Indian archaeology. Refer Nadeem
Hasnain’s General Anthropology Chapter “Section C” for world archaeology and
Nadeem Hasnain’s Indian Anthropology Chapter 7 for Indian Archaeology. I also read
D.K. Bhattacharya’s “An Outline of India Prehistory” for enhancing my answers. This
would cover Chapter 1.8 b in paper 1 and Chapters 1.1 and 1.2 in paper 2.
7. For Human evolution, that is Chapter 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6 in paper 1 please refer Dr.
Lakshmaimah sir’s books. One may also refer to the book written by B.M.Das titled
Outline of Physical Anthropology. I read only Part 2 Man and Living Primates and Part
3 Evolution from B.M.Das in this section.
8. Now we shall take up one of the most difficult topics to remember, Chapter 9.5 Race
and Racism. For this I read Dr. Lakshmaiah sir’s book and also read B.M.Das’s
Outline of Physical Anthropology Chapters 24, 25, 26 and 27. This would also cover
parts of Chapter 2 in paper 2. This part needs a lot of revision and there is so much to
9. For Genetics I attended Dr. Lakshmaiah sir’s online classes and read P. Nath’s Physical
Anthropology Section A topics 1 to 29. I would recommend sir’s online classes for this
as it would make your life quite simple.
10. For Dating techniques Chapter 1.8 a; read Chapter 2 Measuring Time from D.K.
Bhattacharya’s An Outline of Indian Prehistory. For Research methodologies in
anthropology, please refer to Nadeem Hasnain’s General Anthropology chapter 4, Tools
of Data Collection in Anthropological Fieldwork.
Most of the syllabus in paper 1 would be done by now.

Miscellaneous topics
 Chapter 9.6- refer Dr. Lakshmaiah sir’s book.
 Chapter 9.7 found most of the topics on the internet.
 Chapter 9.8 read a medical book that my Father gave me. (Both my parents are doctors)
 Chapter 10- I read P. Nath’s Physical Anthropology Section C Human growth and
development. This chapter is very important from the exam point of view.
 Chapter 11- I read Sosin ma’am’s notes for these topics. These topics were also covered
by Dr. Lakshmaiah sir’s online classes.
 Chapter 12- this topic has been beautifully covered in Dr. Lakshmaiah sir’s book.
For topics like Structuralism, structural functionalism, symbolic, interpretative and cognitive
theories please check out related videos on youtube. There are some wonderful videos
explaining these theories both in terms of sociology and anthropology

Q. First the essential book/resource list. (Also mention which one is the “Base book” for
covering the theory? + Whatever comments you’ve for a particular book e.g. “my seniors
said read xyz book but I found that ABC book was better”. “xyz topic not given properly
in this book, so prepare from xyz website or book…” OR and so on.)

1. Start with Ember & Ember to get an overview and get interested. Build upon Ember &
Ember with specific books for various topics.
2. Physical Anthropology: P Nath
3. Tribal Anthropology: Nadeem Hasnain
4. Indian Anthropology: Brain Tree notes
5. Cultural Anthropology: IGNOU & Brain Tree notes

Braintree notes for Anthropology are pretty good. But they should be used only to cover topics
you don’t find anywhere good reference book for. They are also excellent for revision.

How much of internet-research / current affairs is necessary for this optional? OR can
one simply rely on the books and be done with this subject?

Books/notes are mostly enough for this optional. But the concern is – most books are old
editions and might lack some updates. It is well advised to update with online resources on few
Genetics: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu

Physical & cultural Anthropology: http://anthro.palomar.edu/tutorials/

Anthropological Theories: http://anthropology.ua.edu/cultures/cultures.php

Indian Anthropology: http://sumananthromaterials.blogspot.in

Answer-writing: http://www.insightsonindia.com/anthropology-daily-answer-writing-challenge/

Quoting recent happenings (Xaxa committee for Tribal Anthropology questions) can also help
boost the quality of your answers.