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Suggested Strategy for Anthropology

2008 Anthropology Strategy and Syllabus


Anthropology is perhaps the only optional the syllabus of which has been cut drastically. While geography may not remain as lucrative because of significant enhancement in syllabus but more importantly because of elimination of map question in paper I, public administration and philosophy, despite revision of syllabus may not gain much, History, become of its more channelized syllabus, may become better optional for scoring. Science subjects, despite being scoring, may remain as elusive.

Though Anthropology may not gain its old glory soon, it is definite to see good days again. Because of deletion of topics - Twins, Reproductive Biology, Development Anthropology, Ethnicity etc. - it is likely to be popular again with aspirants, of social sciences/commerce background. Because of reduction in the content of anthropological thought, research methodology and demography,it is likely to regain its popularity among aspirants with science/commerce background.

Now Anthropology syllabus can be read as :

Paper I - Part I
(i) Introduction (Meaning & Scope)
(ii) Institutions (Marriage, Family, Kinship etc.)
(iii) Anthropological Thought (much reduced, specified)
(iv) Medical Anthropology
(v) Communication Anthropology (Added)
(vi) Research Methodology (Reduced)
(vii) Cultural Evolution

Paper I – Part-II
i) Evolution and Genetics (without twins, reproductive biology)
ii) Primates
iii) Race (Reduced)
iv) Human physical growth
v) Human adaptability
vi) Genetical demography (reduced significantly)
vii) Applications (Reduced)

Paper- II
Added – Ethnoarcheology;otherwise no significant change.

As a whole anthropology has become favourable to everybody as second optional (optional for mains only).

The new syllabus is much more streamlined and vagueness,discrepancies,repetitions etc. of previous syllabus have been removed to a major extent-through some still persist.

For example Dollo's (wrongly written as Dolls, as in old syllabus) & Cope's etc. laws are archaic. Outdated topics which are not discussed even it today's evolutionary biology, from which these have been borrowed, but find a place once again (Readers must remember that these have never been asked as questions ever since these were introduced in the year 2000).

But, as a whole, the revised syllabus is much more well –defined. For example, the previous syllabus (in paper II topic five) read- "Approaches to the study of Indian society". Now it has been made explicit, as was the case in pre-1995 syllabus.

However, candidates do not need to change their strategy as discussed by me in these pages, a couple of months ago. Then, for IAS 2007 exam I had suggested that in paper I there must be at least one question from genetics, another one form Races – Growth Ecology while a third one from institutions. In the paper, there was one question each on genetics and ecology, but there were two from institutions (pol. organization and religion).The same trend may continue for IAS '08.

However, small new topics (e.g. dating methods, ethno –archeology) may be asked as short notes while primitive tribal graphs (PTGs) may be asked as essay-type.

Let me warm you that be selective only after having the knowledge of all the fundamentals of the syllabus. Otherwise the strategy may back fire.

Like every new subject, the first thing to do is to understand fundamentals including terminology. A good Dictionary of Anthropology (e.g. McMillan's) and basic books (e.g. Haviland or Ember & Ember & NCERTs) should be really helpful.

As Anthropology, by its origin, is oriented scientifically, the answers should be pin-pointed and to the point. For this you should have good practice of writing answers and getting evaluated from some-one who not only knows the subject but also understands the requirements of this particular exam. The new syllabus (of 1995) is about 25 percent more in quantity, (but almost same at conceptual level), yet it is at least 10 percent more scoring. The latest syllabus is much more scoring and scoring 200 marks in Paper I now is not too diffifuclt a task. With this

knowledge, opting Anthropology as second optional for Mains is not a bad bargain.