Optional Notes

Syllabus / Strategy / Reference Books

Paper I :

1.1 to 1.3: Meaning, Scope; Relationship; Branches Core material: Braintree

Value Addition: Ember & Ember

If you are a complete beginner in Anthropology, your focus must be on gaining conceptual clarity and not on quickly completing the syllabus. Always remember that on the final day, it’s your clear understanding of the subject that lets you write good answers.

Prepare for this part after completing the syllabus

1.4: Human Evolution Core material: P. Nath

Value Addition: Ember & Ember

For answer structure and diagrams, refer Anthropology Simplified

Get a solid grasp of evolution and its concepts such as: Genetic recombination, directional selection, Adaptive radiation, Darwinism, Parallelism, Neo-Darwinism etc (Given well in Ember. Use internet as well)

Innovate in your answers. Ex: You can depict genetic recombination through a diagram and adaptive radiation through a flowchart.

Quote examples for topics like adaptive radiation.

1.5: Primates Primary Source: P. Nath

For better diagrams/sketches – Use Ember & Ember, Google, Anthropology Simplified

Go through previous years question papers and prepare notes for most important topics. It’s static and highly scoring

Must draw diagrams with proper labelling. For example, when you draw skulls of ape and human, you should comparatively point out changes in parts such as Zygomatic arch, Foramen magnum, Sagittal crest etc.  Practise diagrams to show evolutionary changes not just in the skull but also foot, spinal cord, pelvis, dentition etc

Dedicate adequate time to practise neat drawings. Your aim must be to attempt as many questions as you can from topics like these and max out your scores.

1.6: Fossils et al Primary Source: P. Nath

Use Ember & Ember and Anthropology Simplified for value addition and diagrams

Practise diagrams for: Australopithecus, Homo Erectus, Rhodesian man, Neanderthal man, Cro Magnon, Grimaldi, Chancelade.

Prepare thoroughly on each and every fossil mentioned in the syllabus.

Focus on:

Phylogenetic Status (i.e. its place in the evolution tree, who are its ancestors/successors, etc.)

Characteristics (physical, cultural aspects, time-span of the fossil)

Geographical distribution

Who discovered the first fossil, where & when

Distribution of the fossil in other parts of the world

Draw map depicting site names

1.7 : The biological basis of life Khan academy YouTube channel Refer to PDF Slides(notes) for diagrams and value addition

DNA replication, translation, protein synthesis must be illustrated with diagrams

Highly scoring

1.8 (1): Dating methods,

1.8 (2): Cultural Evolution

2.1 & 2.2 – Nature of Culture and Society, etc.

2.3, 2.4, 2.5; 3, 4 and 5 – Marriage, Family, Kinship, Economic Organisation, Political Organisation, Religion

Primary Source: BrainTree

Value addition: Ember and Ember

Most important chapters of Socio-Cultural Anthro.

Use Ember & Ember for value addition, especially for world tribe examples. Note down all of them in an A4 sheet and memorise.

For all the terms (marriage, religion, magic etc), definitions must be a scholarly one. Cram word to word and replicate in your paper.

Always include names of relevant Anthropologist’s name, publication year, name and the tribe on which the study was done. Eg: If you talk about Kula Ring, your answer will be incomplete without quoting Malinowski and his work on Trobriand Islanders. Same goes with Totemism and Durkheim.

Also, your answer will stand out only when you quote many examples. Just quoting Indian tribe examples won’t be enough. For instance, if you are explaining Balanced Reciprocity, you must quote at least a couple of world tribes (Eg: trade between !Kung and Tswana Buntu) that practice it and the significance of such a system in the tribe. Source these examples from Ember and the internet.

Diagrams and schematics for marriage, kinship, descent are absolutely crucial. Ember & Ember has some good diagrams (Eg: Kula ring exchange map) and tables. Practise.

For economic anthropology, memorise examples such as that of potlatch: Chinook of Northern Pacific, Kwakiutl of British Columbia. Also mug up examples for tribes for each of fishing/pastoral/horticulture etc. More the examples, better it is. Also practice rough diagrams of tools used by these communities.

For political organisation chapter, source examples from Ember and Ember. As I had mentioned, quote anthropologists, their works and tribe’s names.

Religion: Same approach as above

6: Anthropological Theories Primary Source: Ember & Ember

Additional Details: University of Alabama’s website.


Prepare short notes on each theory. Expand on:

Why it emerged?

Main thinkers and their major works

Tribes on which the study was done


Balanced conclusion

This being a very important chapter, you can go a little deep into each theory and each thinker. You can read on the internet about the most important work of each anthropologist mentioned in the syllabus. For example, if you read a little deeper about Clifford Geertz and his work, you will understand how he described the Balinese cockfight and its relationship to the society at large. These will help you write great answers.

The amount of time you invest in this chapter will never go waste. Questions definitely come from this chapter and if you write an in-depth answer, it’s a great chance to outshine your competition.


7 : Culture, Language

8 : Research Methods in Anthro


Ember & Ember

Anthropology Simplified

Easy and scoring topic

Always mention the name of prominent anthropologist associated with a particular method and their works.

E.g. Participant-Observation method used by Malinowski for his study on Trobriand Islanders, Genealogical Method by W.H. Rivers, etc.

9.1 to 9.4 : Human Genetics, et al Primary Source: P. Nath.

Anthropology Simplified for diagrams

Use internet extensively to know about technical terms such as Genetic load, genetic drift.Your clarity  of concepts must be impeccable.

Go through previous years questions from this chapter and prepare notes for all of them

Value addition: You can write about latest advances in Genetics such as Epigenome, methylation and its impact on Gene expression etc to make your answers more contemporary. You can get this content from newspapers and the internet.

9.5 : Race and Racism

9.6 : Genetic Markers, Physiological characteristics etc

9.8: Epidemiological Anthropology

Primary Source: P. Nath

Anthropology Simplified

You can value add from Ember and Ember: Note down adaptation and acclimatization examples
10 : Growth and Development

11.1 to 11.3

Primary Source: P. Nath Prepare short notes for each topic.

Graphs and examples are indispensible. They will enrich your answers

Practise graphs and diagrams (Eg: Demographic Transition Theory etc)

You may use internet to enrich the content. Prepare short notes.

12 : Applications of Anthropology Primary Source: P. Nath

Value Addition: Anthropology Simplified, Internet,

Very important topic of Paper I.

Practise diagrams wherever appropriate Eg: in DNA technology, Forensic Anthropology, serogenetics and cytogenetics etc

Scour the internet to understand about the latest research and developments in various fields wherein Anthropology is being applied for practical purpose. This is way you make your answers stand out from the rest.


Paper II:

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

For the sub-topic “Contribution of Tribal Cultures”

Prepare notes for each topic under various subheads


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

1.2 – Indian Fossils

1.3 – Ethno-archaeology in India

Primary Source: Indian Anthropology Nadeem Hasnain 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

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.

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

Core material: Indian Anthropology by Hasnain

You can refer to Anthropology Simplified for diagrams/schematics and value addition

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

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.

Also mention about BN Saraswati’s work.

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. Anthropology Simplified Cramm important Anthropologists and their work
5.1 – Indian Village Studies etc. 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. 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.

6.2 and 6.3 – Tribal Problems

Tribal India by Nadeem Hasnain

Anthropology Simplified

Xaxa report

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 by Nadeem Hasnain

Anthropology Simplified

Xaxa report

Memorize all the Constitutional safeguards, articles, etc.
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

8.1 – Impact of religions on tribes

8.2 – Tribe and nation state

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

Tribal India and Anthropology Simplified

LP Vidyarthi’s The Tribal Culture of India

Tribal India – Nadeem Hasnain

Xaxa report

Cram examples and case studies

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

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

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

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

Always quote names of relevant anthropologists, their publication, tribe/village name on which they worked etc

Have compilation of case studies (can be sourced from Xaxa report)

Interlinkage with theories of Paper-I

Contemporary relevance of the question and link it with current affairs

Use diagrams/Schematics for better presentation


Optional Notes: Available under mentorship program.

Previous year question paper:

Year wise.



Paper 1 – Click Here

Paper 2 – Click Here