UPSC Mains Exam Syllabus - History Optional
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 accounts: 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
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
Buddhism; Rise of Magadha and Nandas. Iranian and Macedonian invasions and their
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
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 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.
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
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,
- 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
- Muhammad Tughluq: Major projects, agrarian measures, bureaucracy of
- Firuz Tughluq: Agrarian measures, achievements in civil engineering and
public works, decline of the Sultanate, foreign contacts and Ibn Battuta’s
17. Society, Culture and Economy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth
- 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
- 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,
- The Vijayanagra Empire
- Mughal Empire, First phase: Babur and 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 cultural specificities
- Literary traditions
- Provincial architecture
- Society, culture, literature and the arts in Vijayanagara Empire.
- Conquests and consolidation of theEmpire
- Establishment of Jagir and Mansab systems
- Rajput policy
- Evolution of religious and social outlook, theory of Sulh-i-kul and
- 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 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
23. 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
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 politics, culture and economy on the eve of the British
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
Anglo-Maratha 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:
- 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.
- 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 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 (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;
Partition of Bengal (1905); The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal; the economic and
political aspects of Swadeshi Movement; The beginning of revolutionary extremism
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
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
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
14. Caste and Ethnicity after 1947;
Backward castes and tribes in postcolonial 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:
- Major ideas of Enlightenment: Kant, Rousseau
- Spread of Enlightenment in the colonies
- Rise of socialist ideas (up to Marx); spread of Marxian Socialism.
17. Origins of Modern Politics:
- European States System.
- American Revolution and the Constitution.
- French revolution and aftermath, 1789- 1815.
- American Civil War with reference to Abraham Lincoln and the abolition
- British Democratic Politics, 1815- 1850; Parliamentary Reformers, Free
- English Industrial Revolution: Causes and Impact on Society
- Industrialization in other countries: USA, Germany, Russia, Japan
- Industrialization and Globalization.
19. Nation-State System:
- Rise of Nationalism in 19th century
- Nationalism: state-building in Germany and Italy
- Disintegration of Empires in the face of the emergence of nationalities
across the world.
20. Imperialism and Colonialism:
- South and South-East Asia
- Latin America and South Africa
- Imperialism and free trade: Rise of neo-imperialism.
21. Revolution and Counter-Revolution:
- 19th Century European revolutions
- The Russian Revolution of 1917- 1921
- Fascist Counter-Revolution, Italy and Germany.
- The Chinese Revolution of 1949
22. World Wars:
- 1st and 2nd World Wars as Total Wars: Societal implications
- World War I: Causes and consequences
- World War II: Causes and consequence
23. The World after World War II:
- Emergence of two power blocs
- Emergence of Third World and non-alignment
- UNO and the global disputes.
24. Liberation from Colonial Rule:
- Latin America-Bolivar
- Arab World-Egypt
- Africa-Apartheid to Democracy
- South-East Asia-Vietnam
25. Decolonization and Underdevelopment:
- Factors constraining development: Latin America, Africa
26. Unification of Europe:
- Post War Foundations: NATO and European Community
- Consolidation and Expansion of European Community
- European Union.
27. Disintegration of Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World:
- Factors leading to the collapse of Soviet communism and the Soviet
- Political Changes in Eastern Europe 1989-2001.
- End of the cold war and US ascendancy in the World as the lone