History Syllabus UPSC Mains Exam

History Syllabus – Paper 1


  • 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 à 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.


Period of Mahajanapadas

  • Formation of States (Mahajanapada)
  • Republics and monarchies
  • Rise of urban centres; Trade routes; Economic growth; Introduction of coinage
  • Rise of Magadha and Nandas
  • Spread of Jainism and Buddhism
  • 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 à Major political developments in Northern India and the Peninsula
  • Origin and the rise of Rajputs – The Cholasadministration, village economy and society
  • “Indian Feudalism”
  • Agrarian economy and urban settlements
  • Trade and commerce
  • Societythe status of the Brahman and the new social order
  • Condition of women
  • Indian science and technology


Cultural Traditions in India, 750-1200

  • Philosophy à Skankaracharya and Vedanta, Ramanuja and Vishishtadvaita, Madhva and Brahma-Mimansa
  • Religion àForms and features of religion, Tamil devotional cult, growth of Bhakti, Islam and its arrival in India, Sufism
  • Literature à Literature in Sanskrit, growth of Tamil literature, literature in the newly developing languages, Kalhan’s Rajtarangini, Alberuni’s India
  • Art and Architecture à Temple architecture, sculpture, painting


The Thirteenth Century

  • Establishment of the Delhi Sultanate à The Ghurian invasions – factors behind Ghurian success – Economic, social and cultural consequences
  • Foundation of Delhi Sultanate and early Turkish Sultans – Consolidation à The rule of Iltutmish and Balban


The Fourteenth Century

  • “The Khalji Revolution”
  • Alauddin Khalji à Conquests and territtorial expansion, agrarian and economic measures
  • Muhammad Tughluq à Major projects, agrarian measures, bureaucracy of Muhammad Tughluq
  • Firuz Tughluq à 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

  • Societycomposition of rural society, ruling classes, town dwellers, women, religious classes, caste and slavery under the Sultanate, Bhakti movement, Sufi movement
  • CulturePersian 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
  • EconomyAgricultural 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 DynastiesBengal, Kashmir (Zainul Abedin), Gujarat, Malwa, Bahmanids
  • The Vijayanagra Empire
  • Lodis
  • Mughal Empire, First phaseBabur and Humayun
  • The Sur EmpireSher 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 principalitiesNizam’s Deccan, Bengal, Awadh
  • Maratha ascendancy under the Peshwas
  • The Maratha fiscal and financial system
  • Emergence of Afghan Power, Battle of Panipat1761
  • State of politics, culture and economy on the eve of the British conquest


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History Syllabus – Paper 11

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

  • Land revenue settlements in British India;
  • The Permanent Settlement;
  • Ryotwari Settlement;
  • MahalwariSettlement
  • Economic impact of the revenue arrangements
  • Commercialization of agriculture
  • Rise of landless agrarian labourers
  • Impoverishment of the rural society
  • Dislocation of traditional trade and commerce; De -industrialisation; Decline of traditional crafts; Drain ofwealth;
  • 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; 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.


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)
  • 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.


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.


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.


Constitutional Developments in the Colonial India between 1858 and 1935

Other strands in the National Movement

  • The RevolutionariesBengal, the Punjab, Maharashtra, U.P, the Madras Presidency, Outside India.
  • The Left; The Left within the CongressJawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, the Congress Socialist Party; the Communist Party of India, other left parties.


Politics of Separatism

  • the Muslim League; the Hindu Mahasabha;
  • Communalism and the politics of partition;
  • Transfer of power; Independence.


Consolidation as a Nation

  • Nehru’s Foreign Policy; India and her neighbours (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.


Caste and Ethnicity after 1947

  • Backward castes and tribes in postcolonial electoral politics;
  • Dalit movements.


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.


Enlightenment and Modern ideas

  • Major ideas of EnlightenmentKant, Rousseau
  • Spread of Enlightenment in the colonies
  • Rise of socialist ideas (up to Marx); spread of Marxian Socialism.


Origins of Modern Politics

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



  • English Industrial RevolutionCauses and Impact on Society
  • Industrialization in other countriesUSA, Germany, Russia, Japan
  • Industrialization and Globalization.


Nation-State System

  • Rise of Nationalism in 19th century
  • Nationalismstate-building in Germany and Italy
  • Disintegration of Empires in the face of the emergence of nationalities across the world.


Imperialism and Colonialism

  • South and South-East Asia
  • Latin America and South Africa
  • Australia
  • Imperialism and free tradeRise of neo-imperialism.


Revolution and Counter-Revolution

  • 19th Century European revolutions
  • The Russian Revolution of 19171921
  • Fascist Counter-Revolution, Italy and Germany
  • The Chinese Revolution of 1949


World Wars

  • 1st and 2nd World Wars as Total WarsSocietal implications
  • World War ICauses and consequences
  • World War IICauses and consequence


The World after World War II

  • Emergence of two power blocs
  • Emergence of Third World and non-alignment
  • UNO and the global disputes.


Liberation from Colonial Rule

  • Latin America-Bolivar
  • Arab World-Egypt
  • Africa-Apartheid to Democracy
  • South-East Asia-Vietnam


Decolonization and Underdevelopment

  • Factors constraining developmentLatin America, Africa


Unification of Europe

  • Post War FoundationsNATO and European Community
  • Consolidation and Expansion of European Community
  • European Union.


Disintegration of Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World

  • Factors leading to the collapse of Soviet communism and the Soviet Union, 1985-1991
  • Political Changes in Eastern Europe 1989-2001.
  • End of the cold war and US ascendancy in the World as the lone superpower.


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