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Syllabus of History Paper - I

  1. Sources Archaeological sources: Exploration, excavation, epigraphy, numismatics, monuments.
    • Literary sources:Indigenous: Primary and secondary; poetry, scientific literature, literature, literature in regional languages, religious literature.
    • Foreign account: Greek, Chinese and Arab writers.
  2. Pre-history and Proto-history: Geographical factors; hunting and gathering (paleolithic and mesolithic); Beginning of agriculture (neolithic and chalcolithic)
  3. Indus Valley Civilization: Origin, date, extent, characteristics-decline, survival and significance, art and architecture.
  4. Megalithic Cultures: Distribution of pastoral and farming cultures outside the Indus, Development of community life, Settlements, Development of agriculture, Crafts, Pottery, and Iron industry.
  5. Aryans and Vedic Period: Expansions of Aryans in India: Vedic Period: Religious and philosophic literature; Transformation from Rig Vedic period to the later Vedic period; Political, social, and economical life; Significance of the Vedic Age; Evolution of Monarchy and Varna system.
  6. Period of Mahajanapadas: Formation of States (Mahajanapada): Republics and monarchies; Rise of urban centres; Trade routes; Economic growth; Introduction of coinage; Spread of Jainism and Buddism; Rise of Magadha and Nandas. Iranian and Macedonian invasions and their impact.
  7. Mauryan Empire: Foundation of the Mauryan Empire, Chandragupta, Kautilya, and Arthashastra; Ashoka; Concept of Dharma; Edicts; Polity, Administration, Economy; Art, architecture, and sculpture; External contacts; Religion; Spread of religion; Literature. Disintegration of the empire; Sungas and Kanvas.
  8. Post-Mauryan Period (Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Kushanas, Western Kshatrapas): Contact with outside world; growth of urban centres, economy, coinage, development of religions, Mahayana, social conditions, art, architecture, culture, literature, and science.
  9. Early State and Society in Eastern India, Deccan, and South India: Kharavela, The Satavahanas, Tamil States of the Sangam Age; Administration, Economy, land grants, coinage, trade guilds, and urban centres; Buddhist centres; Sangam literature and culture; Art and architecture.
  10. Guptas, Vakatakas and Vardhanas: Polity and administration, Economic conditions, Coinage of the Guptas, Land grants, Decline of urban centres, Indian feudalism, Caste system, Position of women, Education and educational institutions; Nalanda, Vikramshila and Vallabhi, Literature, scientific literature, art, and architecture.
  11. Regional States during Gupta Era: The Kadambas, Pallavas, Chalukyas of Badami; Polity and Administration, Trade guilds, Literature; growth of Vaishnava and Saiva religions. Tamil Bhakti movement, Shankaracharya; Vedanta; Institutions of temple and temple architecture; Palas, Senas, Rashtrakutas, Paramaras, Polity, and administration; Cultural aspects. Arab conquest of Sind; Alberuni, The Chaluky as of Kalyana, Cholas, Hoysalas, Pandyas; Polity and Administration; Local Government; Growth of art and architecture, religious sects, Institution of temple and Mathas, Agraharas, education and literature, economy and society.
  12. Themes in Early Indian Cultural History: Languages and texts, major stages in the evolution of art and architecture, major philosophical thinkers and schools, ideas in Science and Mathematics. 
  13. Early Medieval India, 750-1200:
    • Polity: Major political developments in Northern India and the peninsula, origin, and the rise of Rajputs.
    • The Cholas: administration, village economy and society “Indian Feudalism”.
    • Agrarian economy and urban settlements.
    • Trade and commerce. 
    • Society: the status of the Brahman and the new social order.
    • Condition of women.
    • Indian science and technology.
  14. Cultural Traditions in India, 750-1200:
    • Philosophy: Skankaracharya and Vedanta, Ramanuja and Vishishtadvaita, Madhva and Brahma Mimansa.
    • Religion: Forms and features of religion, Tamil devotional cult, growth of Bhakti, Islam and its arrival in India, Sufism.
    • Literature: Literature in Sanskrit, growth of Tamil literature, literature in the newly developing languages, Kalhan's Rajtarangini, Alberuni's India.
    • Art and Architecture: Temple architecture, sculpture, painting. 
  15. The Thirteenth Century:
    • Establishment of the Delhi Sultanate: The Ghurian invasions - factors behind Ghurian success.
    • Economic, Social and cultural consequences. 
    • Foundation of Delhi Sultanate and early Turkish Sultans. 
    • Consolidation: The rule of Iltutmish and Balban.
  16. The Fourteenth Century:
    • “The Khalji Revolution”.
    • Alauddin Khalji: Conquests and territorial expansion, agrarian and economic measure.
    • Muhammad Tughluq: Major projects, agrarian measures, bureaucracy of Muhammad Tughluq. 
    • Firuz Tugluq: Agrarian measures, achievements in civil engineering and public works, decline of the Sultanate, foreign contacts and Ibn Battuta's account.
  17. Society, Culture and Economy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries:
    • Society: composition of rural society, ruling classes, town dwellers, women, religious classes, caste and slavery under the Sultanate, Bhakti movement, Sufi movement. 
    • Culture: Persian literature, literature in the regional languages of North India, literature in the languages of South India, Sultanate architecture and new structural forms, painting, evolution of a composite culture.
    • Economy: Agricultural Production, rise of urban economy and non-agricultural production, trade, and commerce.
  18. The Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Century-Political Developments and Economy:
    • Rise of Provincial Dynasties: Bengal, Kashmir (Zainul Abedin), Gujarat.
    • Malwa, Bahmanids.
    • The Vijayanagara Empire.
    • Lodis. — Mughal Empire, First phase: Babur, Humayun. 
    • The Sur Empire: Sher Shah’s administration. 
    • Portuguese colonial enterprise, Bhakti, and Sufi Movements. 
  19. The Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Century- Society and culture:
    • Regional cultures specificities.
    • Literary traditions. 
    • Provincial architectural. 
    • Society, culture, literature, and the arts in Vijayanagara Empire.
  20. Akbar:
    • Conquests and consolidation of empire. 
    • Establishment of jagir and mansab systems.
    • Rajput policy. 
    • Evolution of religious and social outlook. Theory of Sulh-i-kul and religious policy.
    • Court patronage of art and technology.
  21. Mughal Empire in the Seventeenth Century:
    • Major administrative policies of Jahangir, Shahjahan, and Aurangzeb. 
    • The Empire and the Zamindars. 
    • Religious policies of Jahangir, Shahjahan, and Aurangzeb. 
    • Nature of the Mughal State. 
    • Late Seventeenth-Century crisis and the revolts.
    • The Ahom kingdom.
    • Shivaji and the early Maratha Kingdom.
  22. Economy and society, in the 16th and 17th Centuries:
    • Population Agricultural and craft production. 
    • Towns, commerce with Europe through Dutch, English and French companies: a trade revolution.
    • Indian mercantile classes. Banking, insurance, and credit systems. 
    • Conditions of peasants, Condition of Women. 
    • Evolution of the Sikh community and the Khalsa Panth. 
  23. Culture during Mughal Empire:
    • Persian histories and other literature. 
    • Hindi and religious literatures. 
    • Mughal architecture. 
    • Mughal painting. 
    • Provincial architecture and painting. 
    • Classical music. 
    • Science and technology. 
  24. The Eighteenth Century: 
    • Factors for the decline of the Mughal Empire. 
    • The regional principalities: Nizam’s Deccan, Bengal, Awadh. 
    • Maratha ascendancy under the Peshwas. 
    • The Maratha fiscal and financial system.
    • Emergence of Afghan power Battle of Panipat, 1761. 
    • State of, political, cultural, and economic, on eve of the British conquest.

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Syllabus of History Paper - II

  1. European Penetration into India: The Early European Settlements; The Portuguese and the Dutch; The English and the French East India Companies; Their struggle for supremacy; Carnatic Wars; Bengal-The conflict between the English and the Nawabs of Bengal; Siraj and the English; The Battle of Plassey; Significance of Plassey.
  2. British Expansion in India: Bengal-Mir Jafar and Mir Kasim; The Battle of Buxar; Mysore; The Marathas; The three AngloMaratha Wars; The Punjab.
  3. Early Structure of the British Raj: The Early administrative structure; From diarchy to direct control; The Regulating Act (1773); The Pitt's India Act (1784); The Charter Act (1833); The Voice of free trade and the changing character of British colonial rule; The English utilitarian and India.
  4. Economic Impact of British Colonial Rule:
    (a) Land revenue settlements in British India; The Permanent Settlement; Ryotwari Settlement; Mahalwari Settlement; Economic impact of the revenue arrangements; Commercialization of agriculture; Rise of landless agrarian labourers; Impoverishment of the rural society.
    (b) Dislocation of traditional trade and commerce; De-industrialisation; Decline of traditional crafts; Drain of wealth; Economic transformation of India; Railroad and communication network including telegraph and postal services; Famine and poverty in the rural interior; European business enterprise and its limitations.
  5. Social and Cultural Developments: The state of indigenous education, its dislocation; Orientalist-Anglicist controversy, The introduction of western education in India; The rise of press, literature, and public opinion; The rise of modern vernacular literature; Progress of science; Christian missionary activities in India. 
  6. Social and Religious Reform Movements in Bengal and Other Areas: Ram Mohan Roy, The Brahmo Movement; Devendranath Tagore; Iswarchandra Vidyasagar; The Young Bengal Movement; Dayanada Saraswati; The social reform movements in India including Sati, widow remarriage, child marriage, etc.; The contribution of Indian renaissance to the growth of modern India; Islamic revivalism-the Feraizi and Wahabi Movements.
  7. Indian Response to British Rule: Peasant movement and tribal uprisings in the 18th and 19th centuries including the Rangpur Dhing (1783), the Kol Rebellion (1832), the Mopla Rebellion in Malabar (1841-1920), the Santal Hul (1855), Indigo Rebellion (1859-60), Deccan Uprising (1875) and the Munda Ulgulan (1899-1900); The Great Revolt of 1857 —Origin, character, causes of failure, the consequences; The shift in the character of peasant uprisings in the post-1857 period; the peasant movements of the 1920s and 1930s.
  8. Factors leading to the birth of Indian Nationalism; Politics of Association; The Foundation of the Indian National Congress; The Safety-valve thesis relating to the birth of the Congress; Programme and objectives of Early Congress; the social composition of early Congress leadership; the Moderates and Extremists; The Partition of Bengal (1905); The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal; the economic and political aspects of Swadeshi Movement; The beginning of revolutionary extremism in India.
  9. Rise of Gandhi; Character of Gandhian nationalism; Gandhi's popular appeal; Rowlatt Satyagraha; the Khilafat Movement; the Non-cooperation Movement; National politics from the end of the Noncooperation movement to the beginning of the Civil Disobedience Movement; the two phases of the Civil Disobedience Movement; Simon Commission; The Nehru Report; the Round Table Conferences; Nationalism and the Peasant Movements; Nationalism and Working-class movements; Women and Indian youth and students in Indian politics (1885-1947); the election of 1937 and the formation of ministries; Cripps Mission; the Quit India Movement; the Wavell Plan; The Cabinet Mission. 
  10. Constitutional Developments in the Colonial India between 1858 and 1935.
  11. Other strands in the National Movement. The Revolutionaries: Bengal, the Punjab, Maharashtra, U.P. the Madras Presidency, Outside India. The Left; The Left within the Congress: Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, the Congress Socialist Party; the Communist Party of India, other left parties. 
  12. Politics of Separatism; the Muslim League; the Hindu Mahasabha; Communalism and the politics of partition; Transfer of power; Independence. 
  13. Consolidation as a Nation; Nehru's Foreign Policy; India and her neighbours (1947-1964); The linguistic reorganisation of States (1935-1947); Regionalism and regional inequality; Integration of Princely States; Princes in electoral politics; the Question of National Language.
  14. Caste and Ethnicity after 1947; Backward Castes and Tribes in post-colonial electoral politics; Dalit movements.
  15. Economic development and political change; Land reforms; the politics of planning and rural reconstruction; Ecology and environmental policy in post-colonial India; Progress of Science. 
  16. Enlightenment and Modern ideas:
    (i) Major Ideas of Enlightenment: Kant, Rousseau.
    (ii) Spread of Enlightenment in the colonies. 
    (iii) Rise of socialist ideas (up to Marx); spread of Marxian Socialism.
  17. Origins of Modern Politics:
    (i) European States System. 
    (ii) American Revolution and the Constitution.
    (iii) French Revolution and Aftermath, 1789-1815.
    (iv) American Civil War with reference to Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery.
    (v) British Democratic politics, 1815-1850: Parliamentary Reformers, Free Traders, Chartists.
  18. Industrialization:
    (i) English Industrial Revolution: Causes and Impact on Society.
    (ii) Industrialization in other countries: USA, Germany, Russia, Japan.
    (iii) Industrialization and Globalization.
  19. Nation-State System:
    (i) Rise of Nationalism in 19th century.
    (ii) Nationalism: State-building in Germany and Italy. 
    (iii) Disintegration of Empires in the face of the emergence of nationalities across the World.
  20. Imperialism and Colonialism:
    (i) South and South-East Asia.
    (ii) Latin America and South Africa.
    (iii) Australia.
    (iv) Imperialism and free trade: Rise of neo-imperialism.
  21. Revolution and Counter-Revolution:
    (i) 19th Century European revolutions.
    (ii) The Russian Revolution of 1917-1921. 
    (iii) Fascist Counter-Revolution, Italy and Germany.
    (iv) The Chinese Revolution of 1949.
  22. World Wars:
    (i) 1st and 2nd World Wars as Total Wars: Societal implications. 
    (ii) World War I: Causes and Consequences. (iii) World War II: Causes and Consequences. 
  23. The World after World War II:
    (i) Emergence of Two power blocs.
    (ii) Emergence of Third World and non-alignment.
    (iii) UNO and the global disputes. 
  24. Liberation from Colonial Rule: 
    (i) Latin America-Bolivar.
    (ii) Arab World-Egypt.
    (iii) Africa-Apartheid to Democracy. 
    (iv) South-East Asia-Vietnam.  
  25. Decolonization and Underdevelopment:
    (i) Factors constraining development; Latin America, Africa. 
  26. Unification of Europe:
    (i) Post War Foundations; NATO and European Community.
    (ii) Consolidation and Expansion of European Community 
    (iii) European Union. 
  27. Disintegration of Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World:
    (i) Factors leading to the collapse of Soviet Communism and Soviet Union, 1985-1991.
    (ii) Political Changes in East Europe 1989-2001. 
    (iii) End of the Cold War and US Ascendancy in the World as the lone superpower.

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Previous Year UPSC Questions

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  1. Identify the following places marked on the map supplied to you and write a short note of about 30 words on each of them in your Question-cum-Answer Booklet. Locational hints for each of the places marked on the map are given below seriatim:
    (i) Neolithic site
    (ii) Site of Mother and Child Terracotta Figure
    (iii) Hoard of Gupta Coin
    (iv) Site of Botanical remains
    (v) Harappan site with mud–brick platform
    (vi) Mauryan reservoir site
    (vii) Capital of Maitraka dynasty
    (viii) Dockyard
    (ix) Rock shelter
    (x) Stone axe factory
    (xi) Satavahana inscription site
    (xii) Minor rock inscription of Ashoka
    (xiii) Buddhist Stupa
    (xiv) Mesolithic site
    (xv) Iron smelting workshop
    (xvi) Megalithic site
    (xvii) Temple site dedicated to Surya
    (xviii) Roman factory site
    (xix) Site of Muvar Koil (Temple of Three)
    (xx) Megalith stone site
  2. Answer the following questions:
    a). "The Neolithic Age represents a revolution due to significant changes that took place during this period .Examine.
    b). The Indus-Saraswati cultural zone exhibited both homogeneity and diversity. Discuss.
    c). How do the comparative study of languages, archaeological sources and vast corpus of Vedic literature helps to determine the Aryan problem in Indian history. Discuss.
  3. Answer the following questions:
    a). How far the Sangam literature acts as a window into the social and cultural traditions of ancient South India?
    b). Analyze the contours of imperial ideology as exhibited during the Mauryan period.
    c). Evaluate the status of women in the Gupta period as compared to the pre–Gupta era.
  4. Answer the following questions:
    a). Analyze the tenets, spread and impact of the Bhakti Movement.
    b). How far temple architecture under the Cholas became more refined and grandiose as compared to the early South Indian temple architect are style?
    c). Is it correct to say that the post-Gupta period was remarkable for expansion of religious cults in India?


  1. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each:
    a). Discuss the various proponents of Indian feudalism.
    b). Examine the defects in Alberuni's assessment of Indian society.
    c). Discuss the importance of Sufi literature as an important source of history.
    d). What factors do you attribute for the decline of the Delhi Sultanate?
    e). The motive of Alauddin Khilji's agrarian policy was to curb the powers of the intermediaries. Examine the measures which he adopted to achieve his objective.
  2. Answer the following questions:
    a). Discuss the role of Nur Jahan in the Mughal court politics during the reign of Jahangir.
    b). Why did Balban prefer 'consolidation over 'expansion' of the Delhi Sultanate?
    c). What features of European paintings were incorporated in the Mughal Miniature painting?
  3. Answer the following questions:
    a). The Marathas posed a significant threat to the integrity of the Mughal Empire. Discuss.
    b). "Haidar Ali was born to build an empire, and Tipu Sultan to lose one."Comment.
    c). Analyze the rise of the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh.
  4. Answer the following questions:
    a). Mughal architecture was syncretic in character. Comment.
    b). The economy of India was not stagnant in the eighteenth century. Discuss.
    c). Discuss the nature of the Mughal State under Akbar.



  1. Critically examine the following statements in about 150 words:
    a). "Colonialism had a twisted logic of its own for commercialization. It emerges on analysis to have been often an artificial and forced process."
    b). After 1857, “the peasants emerged as the main force in agrarian movements."
    c). "Awakened political consciousness of Indian masses, bound with dishonourable and cowardly insults of the British led to the movement of Non-Cooperation.”
    d). When Gandhiji launched the Civil Disobedience Movement he was "desperately in search of an effective formula."
    e). "If abdication of British responsibility at the time of transfer of power was callous, the speed with which it was done made it worse."
  2. Answer the following questions:
    a). The Carnatic Wars, the Anglo-Mysore Wars and the Anglo-Maratha Wars had virtually eliminated the French from the contest of supremacy in South India. Discuss.
    b). While introducing the Indian Councils Bill of 1861, the British thought that the only Government suitable for India 'is a despotism controlled from home'. Comment.
    c). The root of the whole question behind the Indigo Revolt is the struggle to make the raiyats grow indigo plants without paying them the price of it'. Analyse.
  3. Answer the following questions:
    a). Do you agree that 'the decline of traditional Indian artisan production was a fact, sad but inevitable'? Discuss.
    b). The historical significance of tribal and peasant uprisings in India 'lies in that they established strong and valuable traditions of resistance to British rule'. Discuss.
    c). To accomplish the aims of education, 'political propaganda and formation as well as propagation of nationalist ideology', the press became the chief instrument. Comment.
  4. Answer the following questions:
    a). The universalist perspective of socio-religious reform movements was not a 'purely philosophic' concern; it strongly influenced the political and social outlook of the time'. Examine.
    b). The Congress Socialist Party agenda was not to cut off from the Congress, but 'intended to give the Congress and the national movement a socialist direction'. Analyse.
    c). How did the factionalised Dalit leadership in Hyderabad undergo a period of intense re-organization between 1948 and 1953?


  1. Critically examine the following statements in about 150 words:
    a). “The American War of Independence finally ended in 1783 when Britain acknowledged the independence of the United States of America."
    b). "The Chartist Movement not only fulfilled some of the demands of the middle class, but its ramifications were felt among the working class and the colonies as well.”
    c). "The Revolutions of 1848 were shaped by the ideas of democracy and nationalism."
    d). “The British imperialism in South Africa from 1867 to 1902 was influenced to a large extent by the capitalist mining of diamonds."
    e). "The supremacy of USA after the end of Cold War had its challenges as well.”
  2. Answer the following questions:
    a). The philosophers and thinkers may have laid the foundation of the French Revolution, but it was precipitated by social and economic reasons. Explain.
    b). Marxian socialism claims itself to be a scientific socialist theory capable of explaining the history of humankind. Discuss.
    c). Enlightenment was not confined to scientific revolution alone, but humanism and ideas of progress too were its inseparable constituents. Examine.
  3. Answer the following questions:
    a). The impact of industrial revolution on the middle class worldview is reflected in the views of Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus and Jeremy Bentham. Comment.
    b). Discuss the different stages of the unification of Italy from 1848 to the occupation of Rome in 1870. c). The Treaty of Versailles contained in itself the seeds of the Second World War. Examine.
  4. Answer the following questions:
    a). "UNO was the necessity of the time when World War II ended." Critically examine its achievements and shortcomings.
    b). The historical causes for the rise of anti-colonial movement in South-East Asia were cultural differences, spread of western education and the emergence of Communist ideas. Discuss.
    c). Arab nationalism was not only a cultural movement, but also an anti-colonial struggle. Comment.

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