History is one of the core subjects in the Civil Services Examinations, with the subject being an integral part of the Prelims and Mains exams. Regardless of the aspirants liking or disliking for the subject, they have to prepare the subject if they aspire to crack the Civil Services examinations. From memorising the names of historical characters to the places of historical significance in an Indian context, covering the ancient, medieval, and modern history of the country can be a tedious task for the lakhs of aspirants.
History Syllabus Prelims
Over the years, the pattern of the UPSC Civil Services Examinations Prelims shows that the difficulty level of history in the General Studies-I varies between moderate to tough. On an average, around 10-15 questions are generally present from the History section in GS-I covering the ancient, medieval, and modern history of India. On several occasions, direct questions appear from NCERT History textbooks. The aspirants should be well versed in topics such as Vedic Period, Indus Valley Civilisation, Mauryan and Gupta period, Delhi Sultanate, Mughal Empire, and various other empires and kingdoms. However, Modern History is widely acclaimed as one the main components in the preparation of the Civil Services Examinations as it is important for Prelims as well as Mains.
Here is the History syllabus for Prelims:
Ancient History for Prelims
- Pre-historic age- the transitional phase between the Palaeolithic and Neolithic Age in India: The culture existing during the ancient period.
- Indus Valley Civilisation: the inception, phases of society, economy, and culture, decline and the end of the civilisation.
- Geographical distribution: population distribution and the characters of early farming and pastoral societies.
- Vedic society: The ancient texts and transition from Rigveda to new Vedic phases.
- Religion in Vedic Society: Political and social preachings of Upanishads, the inception of Varna and patriarchy.
- State Formation and Urbanisation: The Mahajanpadas and Janapadas, the rise of Nanda Dynasty
- The rise of Buddhism: Factors responsible for the spread of Buddhism
- The Rise of Mauryan Empire: The expansion of empire during the Iron Age under Chandragupta, and the exploration of Greek Ambassador Megasthenes.
- Emperor Ashok and his works: The writings of Ashoka, preachings of Dhamma, development of art, administration, and culture.
- Evolution of Jati: The changing nature of the society after the decline of Mauryan empire.
- State formation in Peninsula and the rise of Satavahanas: The rise of Satavahana dynasty in the Deccan Plateau and the development of societies and cultures in the Southern part of the sub-continent.
- Sangam Literature: The development of early Tamil literature in Southern India.
- Indo-Greek empires: the rise of Sakas, Parthians, and Kushans empire in the north-western end of subcontinental landmass, King Kanishk’s contact with the outer world.
- The rise of new religions: the creation of new and distinct religious sects such as Shaivism. Bhagavatism, the
- division of Buddhism in two sects-the Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism, the rise of Jainism.
- Gupta Dynasty and successors
- Development of Art, Literature, Science, Economics, and Politics of Modern Empires
Medieval History for Prelims
- Major Dynasties of early Medieval Period: The changing dynamics of the society, gender issue, and the Arabs and Ghaznavids venture into Arab.
- Cultural and Religious Circumstances from 750-1200 CE: Rise of Islam and Sufism, change from polytheism to monotheism, the flourishing art and culture.
- The Rise of Delhi Sultanate during 13-14th century: Invasion by Muhammad of Ghor, the rise of Slave Dynasty, Invasion by Alauddin Khilji and his economic, agrarian, and administrative measures, the decline of Delhi Sultanate. The rise of Spiritualism sects in both Hinduism and Islam.
- Changing nature of the society and rise of new empire and kingdoms in the 15th and early 16th Century: Rise of Provincial Dynasties, and Vijaynagar Empire. The Lodhi Dynasty and the early stage of Mughal Rule. Spread of Monotheism and spiritual leaders like Kabir, Guru Nanak, Mirabai, and many more.
- The dominance and expansion of Mughal Empire under Akbar and his successors: The administrative, economic, cultural, and religious measure taken by Akbar, the expansion of Mughal Empire, the successors of Akbar and the dominance of Mughal Rule, works of Abul Fazal and the inception of religious ideas, trade engagement with foreigners.
- The decline of Mughals and the rise of Peshwas.
Modern History for Prelims
- The advent of British Colonial Rule: British expansion, Battle of Plassey, the Carnatic Wars and Mysore’s resistance against the British, The Anglo-Maratha wars, India Act, the foundation of British Raj.
- The implication of British Raj on the country: Introduction of Land Revenue system, construction of railways, agriculture commercialisation, land-less labour.
- The impact of British Raj on culture and society: Introduction of Western education and Western thoughts, social and religious reforms by social reformers, rise of Middle-class in India, Vernacular Press Act and its implication.
- The renaissance of Indian Art forms Renaissance of Indian art and modern Indian literature.
- The early uprising against the British Rule: The Revolt of 1857, the main characters in the revolt, the course of the revolt, result and the implications in policies
- India’s Freedom Struggle at the nascent stage: the formation of associations, rising national consciousness, the formation of Congress, the Moderates and the national movement, Swadeshi movement, rise of extremism in Congress, Congress split, Divide and Rule policy.
- Mahatma Gandhi and his impact on Indian National Movement: Khilafat Movement, Civil Disobedience Movement, Non-Cooperation Movement, Satyagraha and Ahimsa policy.
- The rise of Separatism, Partition, and sufferings till 1947: Separatist movements, the rise of Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha, transfer of power, Partition, Independence.
- Post Independence and Jawaharlal Nehru’s Prime Ministership: Parliamentary System, integration of Princely States, economic policies, foreign policies, India and Non-Aligned Movement.
History Syllabus Mains
The History syllabus in General Studies Paper 1 for Mains Civil Services Exams mainly focuses on Indian heritage, culture, India and World Modern History. Studying History is a relishing prospect as it helps to know more about the past and how the human civilisation has reached where it is, although some students find it difficult to get a grip on the subject.
History Syllabus for Mains
- Modern Indian History: Major personalities, issues and events from early 18th century.
- Indian Culture: Development in Art, Literature, and Architecture in modern history.
- Indian Freedom Movement: Different stages and time periods, the rising voices from different corners of the country, stakeholders, key figure.
- Post-Independence: Territory consolidation and reorganisation.
- Modern World History: The changing nature of the society in the 18th century, major events, Industrialisation, major wars including World Wars, inception of new political ideologies, rise in middle-class, workers right, Adult Suffrage, colonisation, state boundary reformation, decolonisation, Cold War, end of Cold War, disintegration of the USSR.
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