General Studies – I

General Studies I (Indian heritage and culture, history and geography of India and the World)



Syllabus – Byheart it plz!!

  • Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
  • The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
  • History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawing of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms
    and effect on the society.
  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  • Effects of globalization on Indian Society Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
  • Salient features of world’s physical geography.
  • Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian
    sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India)
  • Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

Reference Books

  • NCERTs – 6th to 12th.
  • NIOS Art and Culture.
  • Bipan Chandra’s Struggle For India’s Independence.
  • India Since Independence – Bipan Chandra
  • Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe.
  • Social Problems in India – Ram Ahuja
  • Indian Society – Ram Ahuja.
  • Geography of India – Majid Husain.
  • Oxford School Atlas – Oxford.

IASjunior Notes – Available only for mentorship program


Topic – Indian Culture:

  • Make a note of terms, articles, which are in recent news from The Hindu (Friday Review). Focus more on those. Usually questions from static part comes from current events background.
  • Don’t mug up. Too much factual content in there. Even if you succeed in completing everything, it will not fetch substantiate marks.
  • Stick to a few resources, critically examine the issues from every possible angle; Revise again and again.

Topic – Modern Indian History

  • Stick to said sources. Revise and Repeatedly revise. Can’t stress any further.

Answer Previous year papers and get reviewed (Available in our mentorship program)

Enhance your answer by adding current event references in it ( How, where and when shall be taught and practiced to you in the mentorship program)

Topic – World History

  • Khan Academy’s series of lecture videos(free)  helps to understand the topics very well.
  • Easy questions are asked from this part. Conceptual understanding augmented with some good examples will fetch good marks.

Topic – Indian Society

  • Prescribed books with NCERTs suffices for basic understanding and general awareness is enough to answer UPSC questions.
  • Challenge is to present it with current examples. Play smart and prepare the relevant examples from current affairs  and use as examples in your answers. (comprehensively covered in our mentorship program)

Topic – Geography

  • Do not end up in rote learning.UPSC is asking more of analytical questions than static.
  • Geography becomes very interesting when you can visualize various phenomena, and the best books to help you with that are the standard ones which everyone must read atleast twice.
  • Some topics like Geophysical phenomenas are frequently mentioned in newspaper. You can prepare well from papers for such topics.

In Short

  • Read all the NCERTs from 6th to 12th to build a basic foundation to start thinking in an objective and subjective matter.
  • Think of on the spot innovative questions that can be asked and try to answer them ofcourse with reference to current affairs (this attribute and answering such questions shall be practiced well in our mentorship program)
  • Start writing practice after one reading of NCERT. Don’t wait to complete all the books.
  • Revision is key to your success. Do as many revisions as you can

Previous Year Question Papers:


2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
2011 UPSC GS 1 2012 UPSC GS 1 2013 UPSC GS 1 2014 UPSC GS 1 2015 UPSC GS 1 2016 UPSC GS 1 2017 UPSC GS 1 2018 UPSC GS 1 2019 UPSC GS 1

Topic wise:

Art, Heritage and Culture:

  • Safeguarding the Indian art heritage is the need of the moment. Discuss.2018
  • Assess the importance of the accounts of the Chinese and Arab travellers in the reconstruction of the history of India.2018
  • The Bhakti movement received a remarkable re-orientation with the advent of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Discuss.2018
  • How do you justify the view that the level of excellence of Gupta numismatic art is not at all noticeable in later times? 2017
  • Early Buddhist Stupa-art, while depicting folk motifs and narratives successfully expounds Buddhist ideals. Elucidate. 2016
  • Mesolithic rock cut architecture of India not only reflects the cultural life of the times but also a tine aesthetic sense comparable to modem painting. Critically evaluate this comment. 2015
  • Gandhara sculpture owed as much to the Romans as to the Greeks. Explain. 2014
  • Taxila university was one of the oldest universities of the world with which were associated a number of renowned learned personalities of different disciplines. Its strategic location caused its fame to flourish, but unlike Nalanda, it is not considered as a university in the modern sense. Discuss. 2014
  • Sufis and medieval mystic saints failed to modify either the religious ideas and practices or the outward structure of Hindu / Muslim societies to any appreciable extent. Comment. 2014
  • Though not very useful from the point of view of a connected political history of South India, the Sangam literature portrays the social and economic conditions of its time with remarkable vividness. Comment. 2013
  • Discuss the Tandava dance as recorded in the early Indian inscriptions. 2013
  • Chola architecture represents a high watermark in the evolution of temple architecture. Discuss. 2013

Ancient History:

  • The ancient civilization in Indian sub-continent differed from those of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece in that its culture and traditions have been preserved without a breakdown to the present day. Comment. 2015
  • To what extent has the urban planning and culture of the Indus Valley Civilization provided inputs to the present day urbanization? Discuss. 2014

Medieval History:

  • Krishnadeva Raya, the King of Vijayanagar, was not only an accomplished scholar himself but was also a great patron of learning and literature. Discuss. 2016

Modern History:

  • Throw light on the significance of the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi in the present times.2018
  • Clarify how mid-eighteenth century India was beset with the spectre of a fragmented polity. 2017
  • Why did the ‘Moderates’ fail to carry conviction with the nation about their proclaimed ideology and political goals by the end of the nineteenth century? 2017
  • Examine how the decline of traditional artisanal industry in colonial India crippled the rural economy. 2017
  • The women’s questions arose in modern India as a part of the 19th century social reform movement. What were the major issues and debates concerning women in that period? 2017
  • Highlight the importance of the new objectives that got added to the vision of Indian independence since twenties of the last century. 2017
  • Explain how the Uprising of 1857 constitutes an important watershed in the evolution of British policies towards colonial India. 2016
  • Discuss the role of women in the freedom struggle especially during the Gandhian phase. 2016
  • Highlight the differences in the approach of Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for freedom. 2016
  • How different would have been the achievement of Indian independence without Mahatma Gandhi? Discuss. 2015
  • It would have been difficult for the Constituent Assembly to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India in just three years but for the experience gained with the Government of India Act, 1935. Discuss. 2015
  • The third battle of Panipat was fought in 1761. Why were so many empire-shaking battles fought at Panipat? 2014
  • Examine critically the various facets of economic policies of the British in India from mid-eighteenth century till independence. 2014
  • In what ways did the naval mutiny prove to be the last nail in the coffin of British colonial aspirations in India? 2014
  • Defying the barriers of age, gender and religion, the Indian women became the torch bearer during the struggle for freedom in India. Discuss. 2013
  • Several foreigners made India their homeland and participated in various movements. Analyze their role in the Indian struggle for freedom. 2013
  • In many ways, Lord Dalhousie was the founder of modern India. Elaborate. 2013

India after Independence:

  • Critically discuss the objectives of Bhoodan and Gramdan movements initiated by Acharya Vinoba Bhave and their success. 2013
  • Write a critical note on the evolution and significance of the slogan “Jai Jawana Jai Kisan”. 2013
  • Discuss the contribution of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to pre-and post-independent India. 2013
  • Analyze the circumstances that led to Tashkent Agreement in 1966. Discuss the highlights of the agreement. 2013
  • Critically examine the compulsions which prompted India to play a decisive roles in the emergence of Bangladesh. 2013

World History:

  • Why indentured labour was taken by the British from India to other colonies? Have they been able to preserve their cultural identity over there?2018
  • What problems were germane to the decolonization process of Malay Peninsula. 2017
  • The anti-colonial struggles in West Africa were led by the new elite of Western-educated Africans. Examine. 2016
  • Why did the industrial revolution first occur in England? Discuss the quality of life of the people there during the industrialization. How does it compare with that in India at present? 2015
  • To what extent can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically 2015
  • What were the major political, economic and social developments in the world which motivated the anti-colonial struggle in India? 2014
  • What were the events that led to the Suez Crisis in 1956? How did it deal a final blow to Britain’s self-image as a world power? 2014
  • The New Economic Policy – 1921 of Lenin had influenced the policies adopted by India soon after independence. Evaluate. 2014
  • “Latecomer” Industrial revolution in Japan involved certain factors that were markedly different from what west had experience. 2013
  • Africa was chopped into states artificially created by accident of European competition. Analyse. 2013
  • American Revolution was an economic revolt against mercantilism. Substantiate. 2013
  • What policy instruments were deployed to contain the great economic depression? 2013

Indian Society and development:

  • ‘Globalization is generally said to promote cultural homogenization but due to this cultural specificities appear to be strengthened in the Indian Society. Elucidate 2018
  • ‘Women’s movement in India has not addressed the issues of women of lower social strata. Substantiate your view. 2018
  • ‘Despite implementation of various programmes for eradication of poverty by the government in India, poverty is still existing.’ Explain by giving reasons.2018
  • Discuss whether formation of new states in recent times is beneficial or not for the economy of India.2018
  • Mention core strategies for the transformation of aspirational districts in India and explain the nature of convergence, collaboration and competition for its success.2018
  • “Caste system is assuming new identities and associational forms. Hence, caste system cannot be eradicated in India.” Comment.2018
  • How the Indian concept of secularism is different from the western model of secularism? Discuss.2018
  • ‘Communalism arises either due to power struggle or relative deprivation. Argue by giving suitable illustrations.2018
  • The spirit tolerance and love is not only an interesting feature of Indian society from very early times, but it is also playing an important part at the present. Elaborate. 2017
  • Distinguish between religiousness/religiosity and communalism giving one example of how the former has got transformed into the latter in independent India. 2017
  • In the context of diversity of India, can it be said that the regions form cultural units rather than the States? Give reasons with examples for your viewpoint. 2017
  • What are the two major legal initiatives by the State since Independence, addressing discrimination against Scheduled Tribes (STs)? 2017
  • Has the formation of linguistic States strengthened the cause of Indian Unity? 2016
  • Why are the tribals in India referred to as the Scheduled Tribes? Indicate the major provisions enshrined in the Constitution of India for their upliftment. 2016
  • What is the basis of regionalism? Is it that unequal distribution of benefits of development on regional basis eventually promotes regionalism? Substantiate your answer. 2016
  • Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, despite having divergent approaches and strategies, had a common goal of amelioration of the downtrodden. Elucidate. 2015
  • Describe any four cultural elements of diversity in India and rate their relative significance in building a national identity. 2015
  • Debate the issue of whether and how contemporary movements for assertion of Dalit identity work towards annihilation of caste. 2015
  • How do the Indian debates on secularism differ from the debates in the West? 2014
  • Growing feeling of regionalism is an important factor in the generation of demand for a separate state. Discuss. 2013
  • “An essential condition to eradicate poverty is to liberate the poor from deprivation.” Substantiate this statement with suitable examples 2016
  • Critically examine whether growing population is the cause of poverty OR poverty is the main cause of population increase in India. 2015
  • Discuss the changes in the trends of labour migration within and outside India in the last four decades. 2015
  • The life cycle of a joint family depends on economic factors rather than social values. Discuss. 2014
  • Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization on women in India. (2013, Asked about Globalization effect on Elderly) 2015
  • To what extent globalization has influenced the core of cultural diversity in India? Explain. 2016
  • Critically examine the effects of globalization on the aged population in India. 2013
  • How do you explain the statistics that show that the sex ratio in Tribes in India is more favourable to women than the sex ratio among Scheduled Castes? 2015
  • How does patriarchy impact the position of a middle class working woman in India? 2014
  • Discuss the various economic and socio-cultural forces that are driving increasing feminization of agriculture in India. 2014
  • Why do some of the most prosperous regions of India have an adverse sex ratio for women? Give your arguments. 2014
  • Male membership needs to be encouraged in order to make women’s organization free from gender bias. Comment. 2013

Physical Geography:

  • Why is Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) needed? How does it help in navigation? 2018
  • Define blue revolution, explain the problems and strategies for pisciculture development in India. 2018
  • What is the significance of Industrial Corridors in India? Identify industrial corridors, explain their main characteristics. 2018
  • How does the Juno Mission of NASA help to understand the origin and evolution of the Earth? 2017
  • “The Himalayas are highly prone to landslides.” Discuss the causes and suggest suitable measures of mitigation. 2016
  • Explain the formation of thousands of islands in Indonesian and Philippines archipelagos. 2014
  • Why are the world’s fold mountain systems located along the margins of continents? Bring out the association between the global distribution of Fold Mountains and the earthquakes and volcanoes. 2014
  • What do you understand by the theory of continental drift? Discuss the prominent evidences in its support. 2013
  • There is no formation of deltas by rivers of the Western Ghat. Why? 2013
  • Major hot deserts in northern hemisphere are located between 20-30 degree north and on the western side of the continents. Why? 2013
  • Bring out the causes for more frequent landslides in the Himalayas than in Western Ghats 2013

Geophysical features & phenomena:

  • Define mantle plume and explain its role in plate tectonics. 2018
  • The effective management of land and water resources will drastically reduce the human miseries. Explain 2016
  • South China Sea has assumed great geopolitical significance in the present context. Comment. 2016
  • Present an account of the Indus Water Treaty and examine its ecological, economic and political implications in the context of changing bilateral relations. 2016
  • Enumerate the problems and prospects of inland water transport in India. 2016
  • In what way micro-watershed Development projects help in water conservation in drought prone and semi-arid regions of India. 2016
  • What are the economic significances of discovery of oil in Arctic Sea and its possible environmental consequences? 2015
  • India is well endowed with fresh water resources. Critically examine why it still suffers from water scarcity. 2015
  • The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand reaching the limits of their ecological carrying capacity due to tourism. Critically evaluate. 2015
  • Critically evaluate the various resources of the oceans which can be harnessed to meet the resource crisis in the world. 2014
  • How does India see its place in the economic space of rising natural resource rich Africa? 2014
  • With growing scarcity of fossil fuels, the atomic energy is gaining more and more significance in India. Discuss the availability of raw material required for the generation of atomic energy in India and in the world. 2013
  • It is said the India has substantial reserves of shale oil and gas, which can feed the needs of country for quarter century. However, tapping of the resources doesn’t appear to be high on the agenda. Discuss critically the availability and issues involved. 2013
  • Petroleum refineries are not necessarily located nearer to crude oil producing areas, particularly in many of the developing countries. Explain its implications. 2017
  • Whereas the British planters had developed tea gardens all along the Shivaliks and Lesser Himalayas from Assam to Himachal Pradesh, in effect they did not succeed beyond the Darjeeling area. Explain. 2014
  • Account for the change in the spatial pattern of the Iron and Steel industry in the world. 2014
  • Why did the Green Revolution in India virtually by-pass the eastern region despite fertile soil and good availability of water? 2014
  • Do you agree that there is a growing trend of opening new sugar mills in the Southern states of India? Discuss with justification 2013
  • Analyze the factors for highly decentralized cotton textile industry in India 2013

Ecology and Environment:

  • What are the consequences of spreading of ‘Dead Zones’ on marine ecosystem? 2018
  • Why is India taking keen interest in resources of Arctic Region? 2018
  • “The ideal solution of depleting ground water resources in India is water harvesting system.” How can it be made effective in urban areas? 2018
  • In spite of adverse environmental impact, coal mining is still inevitable for development.” Discuss. 2017
  • Mention the advantages of the cultivation of pulse because of which the year 2016 was declared as the International Year of Pulses by the United Nations. 2017
  • How does the cryosphere affect global climate? 2017
  • Account for variations in oceanic salinity and discuss its multi-dimensional effects. 2017
  • In what way can flood be converted into a sustainable source of irrigation and all-weather inland navigation in India? 2017
  • What characteristics can be assigned to monsoon climate that succeeds in feeding more than 50 percent of the won population residing in Monsoon Asia? 2017
  • Discuss the concept of air mass and explain its role in macro-climatic changes. 2016
  • Explain the factors responsible for the origin of ocean currents. How do they influence regional climates, fishing and navigation? 2015
  • How far do you agree that the behavior of the Indian monsoon has been changing due to humanizing landscapes? Discuss. 2015
  • Tropical cyclones are largely confined to South China Sea, Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mexico. Why? 2014
  • Most of the unusual climatic happenings are explained as an outcome of the El-Nino effect. Do you agree? 2014
  • Bring out the relationship between the shrinking Himalayan glaciers and the symptoms of climate change in the Indian sub-continent. 2014
  • The recent cyclone on the east coast of India was called “Phailin”. How are the tropical cyclones named across the world? 2013
  • Bring out the causes for the formation of heat islands in the urban habitat of the world. 2013
  • What do you understand by the phenomenon of temperature inversion in meteorology? How does it affect the weather and the habitants of the place? 2013
  • The growth of cities as I.T. hubs has opened up new avenues employment but has also created new problems. Substantiate this statement with examples. Urbanization 2017
  • With a brief background of quality of urban life in India, introduce the objectives and strategy of the ‘Smart City Programme’. 2016
  • Major cities of India are becoming more vulnerable to flood conditions. Discuss. 2016
  • Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are the three mega cities of the country but the air pollution is much more serious problem in Delhi as compared to the other two. Why is this so? 2015
  • Smart cities in India cannot sustain without smart villages. Discuss this statement in the backdrop of rural urban integration. 2015
  • Discussion the various social problems which originated out of the speedy process of urbanization in India. 2013

Previous Year Questions and Answers:

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
2013 UPSC GS 1 Solutions 2014 UPSC GS 1 Solutions 2015 UPSC GS 1 Solutions 2016 UPSC GS 1 Solutions 2017 UPSC GS 1 Solutions 2018 UPSC GS 1 Solutions 2019 UPSC GS 1 Solutions

Sample Topper Answers:

Anudeep Durishetty – Rank 1, CSE 2017 – GS1

Sachin Gupta – Rank 3, CSE 2017 – GS1

Atul Prakash – Rank 4 , CSE 2017 – GS1

ANMOL SHER SINGH BEDI – Rank 2, CSE 2016 – General Studies

Artika Shukla – Rank 4, CSE 2016 – General Studies Sample answers 1

Athar Aamir Ul Shafi Khan – Rank 2, CSE 2015 – General Studies Sample answers

Tina Dabi – Rank 1, CSE 2015 – Sample GS 1 Answers


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