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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

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2021 2020 2019 2018



  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) Paleolithic site
    (ii) Mesolithic site
    (iii) Neolithic site
    (iv) Neolithic-Chalcolithic site
    (v) Harappan site
    (vi) Proto-historic and historic site
    (vii) Inscriptional site
    (viii) Jain monastic site
    (ix) Coin hoard
    (x) Paleolithic site
    (xi) Terracotta site
    (xii) Rock-cut caves
    (xiii) Ancient learning centre
    (xiv) Political and cultural centre
    (xv) Buddhist site
    (xvi) Ancient port
    (xvii) Early historic site
    (xviii) Ivory hoard
    (xix) Buddhist monastic centre
    (xx) Temple complex

history 2021

  1. Answer the following:
    a). Do you agree that ecological factors influenced the flow and ebb of the Harappan Civilization? Comment.
    b). Do you consider that the Upanishadic principles embody the high point of Vedic religious thought? Comment.
    c). Analyze the significance of external influences and indigenous development on post-Mauryan art.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). Will it be proper to consider the megaliths to represent a single, homogeneous or contemporaneous culture? What kind of material life and cultural system is revealed in megalithic cultures?
    b). How would you characterize the nature of Mauryan state on the basis of Kautilya's Arthashastra?
    c). How did the Varnashrama Dharma manifest the increasing social complexities in the Gupta and post-Gupta period arising from social and economic developments?
  3. Answer the following:
    a). "The political and economic needs of rulers, combined with economic and status needs of the merchant class, together provided the receptive cultural milieu in which Buddhism flourished." Comment.
    b). Large number of land grants in hitherto non-arable tracts invariably meant expansion of agriculture in early medieval India. How did the management of hydraulic resources (different types of irrigation works) facilitate expansion of agriculture in this period?
    c). Discuss the relationship between emergence of literature in vernacular languages and formation of regional identities in early medieval India.


  1. Answer the following:
    a). Discuss the different stages of Indian feudalism and analyze its impact on Indian political system.
    b). Do you consider Sultan Iltutmish to be the real founder of the Delhi Sultanate? Discuss.
    c). Identify the different categories of Persian literature which emerged during the Delhi Sultanate.
    d). Examine the causes of Babur's success against Ibrahim Lodi in the First Battle of Panipat.
    e). Discuss the attitude of Chishti saints towards the state. How were the Suhrawardi saints different in their attitude towards the government?
  2. Answer the following:
    a). Discuss the transformation of Sikh community from a Nirguna Bhakti sect into a politico-military organization.
    b). Give your assessment of Bahlul Lodi's relation with his nobility.
    c). Examine the basic features of Mughal tomb architecture with special reference to the Taj Mahal.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Discuss the importance of Iqta system. How did it help in centralization of administration of the Delhi Sultanate?
    b). Why is the reign of the Khaljis known as the 'Khalji Revolution'?
    c). The late seventeenth century Mughal India is considered to be a period of Jagirdari crisis. Discuss.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). "The Chola rulers were not only mighty conquerors, efficient administrators but also builders of fine temples." Comment.
    b). Discuss with relevant illustrations the relations between Akbar and the Rajput states.
    c). How far is it justified to consider the states like Bengal, Awadh and Hyderabad as 'successor states' of the Mughal state?



  1. Answer the following:
    a). The introduction of Western education transformed India in unforeseen ways.
    b). Tipu Sultan had little success in setting forth a course of change significantly different from the general experience of 18th century crisis of Indian politics and society where public life tended over and over to become a system of plundering.
    c). The Vernacular Press Act of 1878 was designed for better control of the vernacular press and to empower the government with more effective means of punishing and repressing seditious writings. 
    d). The rise of the Communist Movement in India in the 1920s lent a militant and revolutionary content to the Trade Union Movement.
    e). In the first decade of the 20th century, the atmosphere was ripe for the emergence of revolutionary groups to fill up the vacant space in the political map of the country.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). India had been the world leader in the field of hand spun and hand-woven yarn and cloth for many centuries. Many nationalist and Marxist critiques considered that the British dominion deliberately shattered the traditional and world famous handicrafts of India. Comment.
    b). What were the various ways in which nationalism manifested itself in India during colonial rule?
    c). The East India Company had thought that they had found an ideal puppet in Mir Kasim. Mir Kasim, however, belied the expectation of the company. Examine critically.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). How did English utilitarian thinking impact India in the British era?
    b). The same Gandhiji who withdrew the Non-Cooperation Movement on the issue of violence at Chauri-Chaura, refused to condemn people's violence during the Quit India Movement. Do you think that he was losing his faith in the efficacy of non-violence and was willing to deviate from this path? Elucidate.
    c). While individually the Marathas were clever and brave, they lacked the corporate spirit so essential for national independence. Discuss with reasons.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). Discuss the major constitutional developments in India after 1858 and their impact on society and polity.
    b). Discuss the changing nature of Dalit assertion in India in the twentieth century.
    c). How were the Princely States integrated in the Indian Union after the partition? What role did Sardar Patel play in it?


  1. Answer the following:
    a). There were many reasons why the industrial revolution first happened in England.
    b). Napoleon's continental system may be reckoned as the greatest blunder and may be described as a "monument of misdirected energy". 
    c). The Chartist Movement failed to achieve its stated objectives, but succeeded in seeding the idea that a representative democracy should include all citizens.
    d). During the Cold War, some important leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement wanted to keep the movement away from the military blocs.
    e). The Arab countries looked up to Nasser as a leader who could withstand the pressure exerted by Western countries on Egypt to make peace with Israel.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). What was "enlightened" about the Age of Enlightenment?
    b). What were the causes and consequences of the revolutionary upsurge of the 1840s in Europe?
    c). The white-minority government of South Africa treated the natives very badly by denying them fundamental rights and made Apartheid as official policy. How were the people able to end Apartheid policy and establish a transitional rule?
  3. Answer the following:
    a). The rise of nationalism across nations shattered the chains which held together the empires of modern Europe. Discuss.
    b). In the American civil war, the victory of the North had many consequences. Some of them were direct and obvious. However, its indirect effects on American development were perhaps even more important. Comment.
    c). Revolutions, whether in Russia (1917) or in China (1949), are a disastrous way of transforming a country. Comment.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). Europe was at war with itself in the first half of the twentieth century with a long cease-fire. Comment.
    b). The impact of the end of the Cold War and the emergence of the US as the lone superpower has been both good and bad. Discuss.
    c). Do you think that the United Nations Organisation has played a significant role in resolving international disputes and ensuring peace in the world?

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