ias junior history




History Syllabus Paper – I

Sources of History Syllabus:

Archaeological sources: Exploration, excavation, epigraphy, numismatics, monuments Literary sources: Indigenous: Primary and secondary; poetry, scientific literature, literature, literature in regional languages, religious literature. Foreign accounts: Greek, Chinese and Arab writers.

Pre-history and Proto-history:

Geographical factors; hunting and gathering (paleolithic and mesolithic); Beginning of agriculture (neolithic and chalcolithic).

Indus Valley Civilization:

Origin, date, extent, characteristics, decline, survival and significance, art and architecture.

Megalithic Cultures:

Distribution of pastoral and farming cultures outside the Indus, Development of community life, Settlements, Development of agriculture, Crafts, Pottery, and Iron industry.

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 economic life; Significance of the Vedic Age; Evolution of Monarchy and Varna system.

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 Buddhism; Rise of Magadha and Nandas. Iranian and Macedonian invasions and their impact.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Chalukyas 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.

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.

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

Cultural Traditions in India, 750-1200:

Philosophy: Shankaracharya 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

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

The Fourteenth Century:

– “The Khalji Revolution” – Alauddin Khalji: Conquests and territorial expansion, agrarian and economic measures – Muhammad Tughluq: Major projects, agrarian measures, bureaucracy of Muhammad Tughluq – Firuz Tughluq: Agrarian measures, achievements in civil engineering and public works, decline of the Sultanate, foreign contacts, and Ibn Battuta’s account

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

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 and Humayun – The Sur Empire: Sher Shah’s administration –  Portuguese Colonial enterprise – Bhakti and Sufi Movements

The Fifteenth and early Sixteenth Century – Society and Culture:

 – Regional cultural specificities – Literary traditions   – Provincial architecture   – Society, culture, literature and the arts in Vijayanagara Empire.  


–  Conquests and consolidation of the 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

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.

Economy and Society in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries:

 – Population, agricultural production, craft production   – Towns, commerce with Europe through Dutch, English and French companies : a trade revolution – Indian mercantile classes, banking, insurance and credit systems – Condition of peasants, condition of women   – Evolution of the Sikh community and the Khalsa Panth  

Culture in the Mughal Empire:

–  Persian histories and other literature –  Hindi and other religious literature – Mughal architecture –  Mughal painting – Provincial architecture and painting – Classical music –  Science and technology

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 politics, culture and economy on the eve of the British conquest

History Syllabus Paper – II

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.

British Expansion in India:

Bengal – Mir Jafar and Mir Kasim; The Battle of Buxar; Mysore; The Marathas; The three Anglo-Maratha Wars; The Punjab.

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.

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; Deindustrialisation; 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.

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.

Social and Religious Reform movements in Bengal and Other Areas:

Ram Mohan Roy, The Brahmo Movement; Devendranath Tagore; Iswarchandra Vidyasagar; The Young Bengal Movement; Dayananda 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.

Indian Response to British Rule:

Peasant movements 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 (18991900); 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.

  1. 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.
  2. A 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 Non-cooperation 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.
  3. Constitutional Developments in the Colonial India between 1858 and 1935.
  4. 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.
  5. Politics of Separatism; the Muslim League; the Hindu Mahasabha; Communalism and the politics of partition; Transfer of power; Independence.
  6. Consolidation as a Nation; Nehru’s Foreign Policy; India and her neighbors (1947-1964); The linguistic reorganization of States (1935-1947); Regionalism and regional inequality; Integration of Princely States; Princes in electoral politics; the Question of National Language.
  7. Caste and Ethnicity after 1947; Backward castes and tribes in postcolonial electoral politics; Dalit movements.
  8. 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.
  9. 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); the spread of Marxian Socialism.

Origins of Modern Politics:

(i)   European States System. (ii)   American Revolution and the Constitution. (iii)   French revolution and aftermath, 17891815. (iv) American Civil War with reference to Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery. (v)  British Democratic Politics, 18151850; Parliamentary Reformers, Free Traders, Chartists.


(i) English Industrial Revolution: Causes and Impact on Society (ii) Industrialization in other countries: USA, Germany, Russia, Japan (iii) Industrialization and Globalization.

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.

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.

Revolution and Counter-Revolution:

 (i) 19th Century European revolutions (ii) The Russian Revolution of 19171921 (iii) Fascist Counter-Revolution, Italy and Germany. (iv) The Chinese Revolution of 1949

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 consequence

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.

Liberation from Colonial Rule:

(i)   Latin America-Bolivar (ii)   Arab World-Egypt (iii) Africa-Apartheid to Democracy (iv)   South-East Asia-Vietnam

Decolonization and Underdevelopment:

(i)   Factors constraining development: Latin America, Africa

Unification of Europe:

(i)   Post War Foundations: NATO and European Community

(ii)   Consolidation and Expansion of European Community

(iii) the European Union.

Disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World:

(i)   Factors leading to the collapse of Soviet communism and the Soviet Union, 1985-1991

(ii)   Political Changes in Eastern Europe 1989-2001. End of the cold war and US ascendancy in the World as the lone superpower.

Reference books:

  1. History of Modern India – Shekhar Bandopadhyaya/Bipan Chandra
  2. India’s Struggle For Independence – Bipan Chandra and Others
  3. India’s Ancient Past – R.S. Sharma
  4. The Wonder That Was India – A.L. Basham
  5. Ashoka and the Decline of the Mauryas  – Romila Thapar
  6. Medieval India: From Sultanate to Mughals – Satish Chandra
  7. Mastering Modern World History – Norman Lowe
  8. History of the World – Arjun Dev

Optional notes: Available under mentorship program.



  • General studies (prelims + mains) contain portions from history. So here, you can optimise time by preparing for optionals and GS papers.
  • Topics in history will also be helpful in the essay paper.
  • History is an interesting subject. It explains a lot of things in economy, socio-politics, etc.It is easy to understand as it is like a story. There are no big formulas or concepts to follow.
  • Studying history develops a good reading habit.It is by and large a static subject.
  • if you cover this subject once, it will not change in the next two-three years. So, if you are in your second or subsequent attempts, your preparation will get easier.
  • In general studies papers, writing about the historical perspective of things gives depth to your arguments. Here, history preparation can help.


  • If you are not interested in history, you may find studying it difficult.
  • You must have good writing skills to score good marks in history.
  • It is not a scoring subject when you compare it to science or maths.
  • You do need to remember a few dates and names in history. A good memory is required to ace history.
  • A lot of things are subject to interpretation unlike the sciences. So, your marks may vary from expectations in this subject.
  • The UPSC syllabus for history is vast.

How to prepare:

Ancient History:

  • There is greater emphasis on sources of early Indian history. This has gained currency in the new syllabus. So make notes on the sources that are available to record ancient Indian history. Among various source the archaeological source is the most important source to study of ancient India. It covers from the prehistoric times to the Iron Age and you have to keep track of latest findings of this source.
  • In the revised syllabus, the politico-administrative history from pre-Mauryan period – rise of Mahajanapadas, to post-Gupta period-beginning of feudalism and centrifugal trends, has been given more significance. So prepare this section with great importance.
  • Your strategy should be to start from the Indus civilisation and trace the evolution up to the post-Gupta period.
  • The other area of emphasis should be major Philosophical thinkers and schools in ancient India. Here you must make notes on Brahmanical, Buddhist and Jain philosophical schools.
  • In science and mathematics segment of ancient India , you must have notes on the contribution of the Indus valley civilization to ancient Indian scientist like Patanjali and Aryabhatta besides other.

Medieval History:

  • You may categorise medieval Indian history into five subsections to make things simpler:
  • Give greater emphasis on contemporary historians and sources of the medieval Indian history. Prepare short answers on them
  • You must study the Delhi sultanate in totality.
  • Similarly prepare the entire Mughal rule holistically, but give special emphasis on the age of Akbar.
  • In medieval India section prepare all the provincial dynasties but give special emphasis on the Cholas, the Vijayanagar and the Marathas. This is the most important section from the examination point of view
  • Other Important topics are: Society during medieval times; Bhakti movement: Sankaracharya, Ramanuja, Chaitanya, Kabir, Bhakti movement in South India, Lingayats, Maharashtra Dharma; Sufi-movement; architecture from early Sultanate to the Lodis etc. You must have a comparative and evolutionary approach while preparing this section.

Modern Indian History:

Majority of the questions comes from Modern Indian history. It will be advisable to prepare the themes chronological and unit-wise.

  1. a) British conquests and Indian reactions:

The syllabus mentions Mysore, Punjab, the Marathas and their resistance against the colonial power. You must study the native states resistance to the British conquest

Next you may prepare the political, social and economic circumstances leading to the 1857 revolt. Besides prepare notes on other uprisings, such as tribal, civil and peasants’ revolt.

  1. b) British economic policy:

An important aspect of British colonisation was economic exploitation of India and its ruinous impact on the Indian society. In this regard pro-nationalistic and leftist ideological viewpoints must be taken into account while preparing the notes for this segment.

  1. c) Socio-cultural aspects:
  2. i) It includes sub-topics like Indian Renaissance, Christian missionary activities, evolution of educational and social policies and its role in rise of nationalism in India. ii) Other sub-topics are on literary personalities; like Tagore, Premchand, S Bharati and others; film and theatre are important topics. The emphasis is to trace the cultural evolution of modern India. You have to prepare your notes from such perspective.
  3. d) Freedom struggle:

This section also accounts for 90-100 marks in Main General Studies paper too. So a thorough and in-depth study of history of Indian nationalism from 1885 i.e. foundation of Indian national Congress to 1947 and Partition and freedom of India is a must for preparation. Sub-divide the particular unit into following section: i) 1885 to 1916, which includes early Indian nationalism ii) ‘Home Rule’ movement; 1916 to 1945, which is the ‘Gandhian era’. You can start form ‘Champaran experiment’ to ‘Quit India movement’. iii) The Gandhian thought and methods of mass mobilisation should be given special emphasis; iv) 1945 to 1947 – a chronological study of this portion will be the right approach. Analyse how and why Indian nationalism, at the end yielded a paradoxical result, which is partition and freedom together; v) other strands of national movement, which ran parallel to the Congress movement; rise and growth of the revolutionary terrorism; Swarajist movement; social and communist movements; Indian National Army – role of Subhash Chandra Bose and rise and growth of communalism too must be prepared.

  1. e) Independence to 1964:

This unit includes the Nehruvian era and development of an independent Indian polity; Constitution, planned economy and foreign policy are the topics for in-depth preparation.

World history

  • In this segment you can start with Renaissance, enlightenment and socialist ideas. Similarly, study all the major revolutions that shaped the modern world history. Moreover, the two World Wars have to be studied comprehensively. Few inferences can be drawn from this syllabus;
  • Going through the syllabus, it be said one can safely conclude that mastering the European history can fetch more marks.
  • The second half of this section world history deals with more contemporary events and it is relevant to General Studies’ paper too as this section covers important portions of it.
  • Factual study of individual event is not sufficient for preparation as there is emphasis towards conceptualisation of events than generalisation.
  • You are required to have detailed and in-depth understanding of the post-World War II developments, such as the ‘Cold War’ and division of world into two military blocs, NATO and Warsaw pact; emergence of the ‘Third World’ and their decision to remain non aligned; United Nations; decolonisation and factors constraining development of the newly-independent Latin American and African countries.
  • At the same time you should study the circumstances leading to the end of the ‘Cold War’ and the US ascendancy in the world, as well as the disintegration of Soviet Union, fall of Berlin wall and the US and the UN victory in the Gulf war.
  • Another important strand of contemporary history is process of integration of nations across the globe, which is ‘Globalisation’. Continent-wise, development in this regard has to be studied. European Union has achieved some success in this regard but “Britexit” has dampened such hopes.
  • A good book on international politics or contemporary history will suffice to prepare this portion.

Important Topics


1. Indus Valley civilization

– Society, Religion

– Important Harappan towns & artifacts excavated

– Extension

– Town Planning

– Economical Importance

– Political Life

– Causes of decline

2. Aryan Civilization: – Origin

– Vedic literature

– Religion

– Society

– Polity

– Economic Condition

– Difference between Indus and Aryan

3. Religions movements.


– About Mahavira & teachings

– councils

– Important books causes for decline


– Buddha teachings

– Councils

– Important books

– Causes for decline

4. The Mauryan Empire – About Ashoka in detail

– Article and Architecture

– Administration

– Society

5. Central Asian contacts and their results.

– Indo- Greeky

– The Shakas

– The pacthians Article and Architecture

– The Kushans – Kanishka in detail

6. South Indian History

– Sangam Age

– Satavahanas

– Chola’s

– Pallavas art and architecture

7. Gupta Empire

– Administration

– Article and Architecture

– Social development

8. Post-Gupta period

– Harsha in detail

– Fendal System


1. Turkish Invasion

2. Delhi Sultnate

– Rulers and their contribution

– Aibek, Iltumish, Balban, Aluddin Khilji, Mohamad bin Tughlug, Feroz Tughlug, Sikandu lodi, Ibrahim Lodi in detail

– Administration (Important terms)

– Art and Architecture

3. Vijayanagar Empire

– Krishna Devaraya in detail

– Important temples and books

4. Mughals

– Babar’s wars

– Akbar in detail

– Jehangir, Shahjahan, Aurangazeb in detail

– Administration

– Society

– Causes for decline

– Important books (authors)

– Art and Architecture


1. Marathas

– Shivaji in detail

– Administration

– Peshwas and their administration

2. European powers

– Chronologoical order of European powers in India

– East India Company

– Important Governor General and their contribution

Warsen Hastings, Coronwallis, wellesely, William Bentinck, Dalhousie, Lytton, Rippon, Curzon, Mount Patten.

– British rule impact on India

– Social and cultural developments/Awakening

3. Reform movements

– In detail

– Founders and their contribution

– Books

4. 1857 Revolt

– In detail

5. Freedom Struggle

– Formation of INC.

– Moderates and Extremist

– Partition Role of Bengal/Surat Split

– Muslim league

– Lucknow pact

– Minto Morley/Montagu Chelmsford

6. Ghandhian Era

– His experiments

– Non Cooperation Movement

– Civil dis-obedience movement

– Gandhi – Irwin Pact

– August Offer

– Quit India Movement

– Cripps mission

– Cabinet Committee

– Partition

7 .Important

– INC meetings and its resolutions

– President, place

8. Extremist

– Terrorist activites

– Bengal

– Maharastra

– Some other places

9. Subash Chandra Bose

– INA formation in detail


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