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Anthropology - UPSC Civils Optional


Anthropology is a popular optional which is being taken by many aspirants from technical academic background. Those who have done their graduation in life sciences can seriously give this a thought as there is a substantial syllabus in Paper-I which deals with concepts like evolution of man, genetics, nutrition, adaptation, etc. 

However, those who are not acquainted with biology need feel apprehensive as these topics could be easily mastered with sincere efforts. A testimony to this is the fact that numerous engineers have succeeded with Anthropology as one of their optionals.

Paper-I can be broadly divided into Physical Anthropology and Socio-Cultural Anthropology. Physical Anthropology is purely factual and, therefore, highly scoring. However, the aspirants need to work hard and revise regularly to be well versed with the facts. It advisable to practice diagrams as they are mandatory when an answer from Physical Anthropology is attempted. Different stages of human evolution should be studied comparatively, preferably by making tables, to make it easier to remember. In Genetics, get the basic biological and medical concepts right. Short questions are frequently asked from human evolution and genetics. 

So prepare these two areas well for short questions. P. Nath's Physical Anthropology is a good book, which covers most of the topics. However, for current topics like Forensic Anthropology, personal identification and reconstruction, Applied human genetics- Paternity diagnosis genetic counselling and eugenics, DNA technology-prevention and cure of diseases, Anthropo-gentics, Serogenetics and cytogenetics etc refer other sources and keep abreast of the latest developments.

Socio-Cultural Anthropology deals with issues like Family-Marriage-Kinship (FMK), Religion, Political Anthropology, Economic Anthropology, Developmental Anthropology etc. These topics are easy to understand. However, you must learn sufficient number of examples and case studies to attempt essay questions. In addition to this, you should make an effort to add a contemporary touch by quoting recent examples to make your answers better than the average ones. 

In Developmental Anthropology, you must be conscious that the answers have an anthropological perspective and do not resemble a general essay. Try depicting the impact of development on different institutions of society like FMK, religion, economy, social structure etc.

Anthropological Thought is an important chapter for two reasons. Firstly, it gives you insights and case studies on various social institutions like religion, politics, social structure, economics etc. These could be used when you attempt questions from Socio-Cultural Anthropology. Secondly, often direct questions are asked from this area, which are highly scoring. However, in recent times, the trend is to ask questions comparing different thinkers rather than direct ones. So one should have a holistic view of different streams of thoughts.

Paper- II consists of Indian Anthropology. The first part covers various socio-cultural aspects of the Indian society. The second part focuses mainly on tribals. Conceptually, Paper-II is easy to understand. However, to score well you need to supplement your answers with various case studies and contemporary issues. Nadeem Hasnain's Indian Anthropology and Tribal India give you basic required knowledge. For more information, you may refer to M. N. Srinivas for caste issues, Ram Ahuja for social issues and L. P. Vidhyarthi for Tribal issues. For latest developments, it is advisable to read magazines like Yojana, Kurukshetra, Frontline etc for information on social and tribal issues.

To conclude, the strength of Anthropology as an Optional is the ease in understanding. Only Physical Anthropology demands some efforts to understand the concepts clearly. Since socio-cultural anthropology makes up for a significant part of Paper – I and almost the whole of Paper – II, there is a wide scope to give the answers a contemporary touch with current examples and issues. Its weakness lies in the difficulty in gathering information. 

Since Anthropology is not offered at graduation level and since the aspirants with Anthropology are not as numerous as those of Public Administration or History, it is a little difficult to get books which have all the required topics at one place. Hence, it is a time-tested practice of many successful candidates to follow the notes / material, particularly that of Prof. Muniratnam. 

However, caution should be exercised while selecting the material / notes and they should not be solely and blindly relied upon. As with any other optional, it is important to practice writing answers, especially in those areas where the information is not very forthcoming like ethnicity, biological consequences of population control and family welfare, ethnomedicine, etc.

Reference books:
Paper I (Part I) 
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 : he 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)
12. Gaya and Pandey : Cultural Anthropology

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

Topic Wise Reference:
Paper I  (Part I)
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 : he World of Man
8. Herskovits : Cultural Anthropology
9. Majumdar & Madan : An Introduction to Social Anthropologyv 
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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