IAS OPTIONAL HISTORY happens to be one of the most popular optional subject in the IAS mains exam. Importance of HISTORY in UPSC CIVIL SERVICE is due to a large weightage given to the subject in the IAS prelims exam and in the IAS mains general studies papers as well. IAS aspirants need to have a very sound understanding of history because you cannot crack ias without studying history. Eventually the question that begs an answer is, ‘Is HISTORY a good optional subject for the IAS mains?

In the 2015-19 UPSC civil services, candidates who appeared for the IAS mains with history optional. Success rate ohas been roughly 9.5%. More than history being a good or bad optional but only that it is a candidate’s interests and aptitude in a subject that makes it suitable or not for the civil services exam. Do not go for judgement based on your interests in school – because the history one studies here is more logic based and hence interesting. Based on the discussion above take a 2 to 3 month casual reading of history, go through question papers of previous years before arriving at the judgement.

 

BENEFITS OF HISTORY OPTIONAL IN IAS MAINS

  • General studies (prelims + mains) contain portions from history. So here, you can optimise time by preparing for optional and GS papers.
  • Topics in history will also be helpful in the essay paper.
  • History is an interesting subject. It helps in better understanding of a lot of things in the society, governance and politics.
  • Easy to understand and reduced necessity of finding teachers and taking coaching classes.
  • Being a static subject. Once covered, it will not change in the next two-three years. So, if you are in your second or subsequent attempts, your preparation needs no change.
  • In general studies papers, writing about the historical perspective of things gives depth to your arguments. Here, history preparation can help.
  • Study material is easily available for this subject.
  • Helps in developing writing skill.

 

HISTORY OPTIONAL IN IAS MAINS – POSSIBLE GREY AREAS

  • If you are not interested in history, you may find studying it difficult.
  • 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.
  • subjects like public administration, sociology or geography might help you as administrators in the future.
  • The upsc civil service syllabus for history is quite big .

 

IAS MAINS OPTIONAL HISTORY - CIVIL SERVICE SYLLABUS:

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 architecture.
  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 impact.
  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 Age; Administration, 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 and Mathematics.
  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, Alberuni’s India; 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 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;
  17. 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
  18. The Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Century:Political Developments and Economy: Rise of Provincial Dynasties: Bengal, Kashmir (Zainul Abedin), Gujarat, Malwa, Bahmanids; The Vijayanagra Empire; Lodis; 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.
  20. Akbar: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
  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 conquest

IAS OPTIONAL HISTORY 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; 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.
  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 Cabinet Mission.
  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 National Language.
  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 of slavery; British Democratic Politics, 1815- 1850; Parliamentary Reformers, Free Traders, Chartists.
  18. Industrialization: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; Australia; 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 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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