Clear JRF, Don’t Bother about NET: Book List and Strategy for Political Science Students

This article was written in my earlier blog. I have copied it here. I have made some updates about the books to be read for the examination. I hope it helps in your preparation in some positive way.


If you are willing to do research (M. Phil/PhD) in India, well then it is needless to say that you will definitely want to have JRF. Books cost money, travels cost money, printing articles, and photocopying articles etc. (you name it) cost money. And, you will definitely want to have a little doze of fun sometimes. Depending on the meagre amount of scholarship given by UGC for your M. Phil will never be adequate. If you happen to stay in rented accommodation, it will certainly consume most of your monthly ‘salary’ from parents. As I said, that meagre amount of fellowship (last time I heard that it would be increased to Rs. 8000 per month) by the UGC for M. Phil is VERY LESS for a research student. For quality research, we need to have adequate financial investment.

If you do not need JRF, then just a NET qualification is enough for your entry to the academic world as a lecturer/assistant professor (Even the recent news from MHRD is not a relief for all- you know what I mean). But I would say, clear JRF and don’t bother about NET. You will understand what I am saying when either you get your fellowship or when a friend of you is getting it! Okay, that’s for fun:)

Fun aside, if your career option is diverse, then the Government of India has said that NET qualification will be considered for Public Sector Units (PSUs). Though how useful this may be for humanities and social science students may be debated, there is enough scope for these students in certain selected companies. Keep this in mind.

Here, my intention is to merely tell how it is best to proceed your preparation for the examination. You may differ from my views. It is upto your discretion to follow what is suggested here or to totally reject it. However, with best intentions and careful consideration, I have written this. If you rely and religiously follow what is suggested here, there is a very high chance that you may clear this examination at one go and become a Junior Research Fellow with a very handsome amount of fellowship for your research work and many other things!

The following are some books which you can rely blindly (for this examination) and these books will be VERY HELPFUL in clearing the JRF:

Western Political Thought (as they call it)

Indian Political Thought

For this you can read the philosophy/thought/thinkers selectively from the following books:

Kindly do not read more than the relevant thinkers related to the syllabus. Most often we do not even see the syllabus. Don’t ever do that! And, for this section, please use internet wisely (Wikipedia is no harm).

Political Theory

Comparative Government and Politics (not extremely important, yet it is best not to miss it)

For this examination purpose, I want to reassert that Comparative Government and Politics part is not very important. Yet, please study some basic theories, know some thinkers, be familiar with the constitutions of some countries and the similar provisions in Indian Constitution etc.

Indian Government and Politics

International Relations

India’s Foreign Policy

Please follow a good Newspaper and keep updated. Browse some websites such as those of IDSA, Ministry of External Affairs etc. This will help you more than anything for this section.

Public Administration

As you read these books, please analyse the previous years’ questions thoroughly and wisely.

I will illustrate how I used previous years’ questions to my greatest advantage:

Here is what I did:

Whenever I saw a question on John Rawls such as the one below

Which of the following books were written by John Rawls?

  1. A Theory of Justice
  2. The Law of Peoples
  3. Sovereign Virtue
  4. Development as Freedom

I know the answer is a) and b). But I did not stop there. I checked who wrote Sovereign Virtue and Development as Freedom respectively. Then, I tried to know what were the central themes of these books and when were they written.

By doing this, I could answer any question regarding these books and authors. For instance, I could answer questions if any of these books or related books by these authors were asked in the examination to be put in chronological order or when the question is about matching between authors and the name of their work/book, or the central idea of a book etc.

Questions are like that mostly. You are familiar with the concepts, you have heard the author, you have come across the book but you are not certain when it comes to making a correct choice among the options. You will overcome this mistake if you properly study the previous years’ questions.

I can repeat it by giving another example say ‘bandwagoning’ in international relations. When I saw this term, I checked other related concepts such as ‘chain-gagging’ etc. And, I checked which theories are associated with these concepts. Then, I checked other opposing or similar theories and the scholars who have introduced or popularised these concepts and theories and their respective works/books.

Doing this immensely helped me in clarifying my doubts and this exercise made these ideas, concepts, theories, names of authors/scholars/thinkers/philosophers stick in memory.

Therefore, as far as I am concerned, a wiser question analysis is a must for clearing CBSE NET-JRF exam.

And how do you do it? Simple: Internet. And, you can always use Wikipedia for the purpose!

Finally, if you have done very well in terms of your studies (not in marks) in your undergraduate and postgraduate (considering that you have studied Political Science in both stages), then that is a very big bonus. You will just need to revise the books mentioned above and study the previous years’ questions.


Best wishes

PS. 1. Here, I have not written for Paper I (Teaching and Research Aptitude) which is common for all. A little practice and a right attitude will make that paper very easy. During my preparation for this examination, I read Trueman’s book on Paper I and I definitely benefited from this book.

If you have any doubt, leave a comment below and I will try my best to clarify it as soon as possible.

Do I have the authority to write on the above subject?

Yes, I have cleared JRF in December 2013 and, currently, I am in the Department of Political Science, University of Delhi working on my dissertation (well, doing research, writing dissertation is quite a task). I self-studied and cleared it.

Last updated: January 2017.

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