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IAS Mains Exam Syllabus:

IAS Syllabus

Indian History:


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 



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:

(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; 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 post-colonial 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:

                             (a) Major ideas of Enlightenment: Kant, Rousseau

                           (b) Spread of Enlightenment in the colonies

                         (c) Rise of socialist ideas (up to Marx); spread of Marxian Socialism.

17.          Origins of Modern Politics:

                            (a)  European States System.

                           (b) American Revolution and the Constitution.

                         (c) French revolution and aftermath, 1789-1815.

                          (d) American Civil War with reference to Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery.

                            (e) British Democratic Politics, 1815-1850; Parliamentary Reformers, Free Traders, Chartists.  

18.              Industrialization:
(a)   English Industrial Revolution: Causes and Impact on Society

(b)   Industrialization in other countries: USA, Germany, Russia, Japan
(c)  Industrialization and Globalization.  

19.          Nation-State System:

(a)    Rise of Nationalism in 19th century
(b)   Nationalism: state-building in Germany and Italy
(c)  Disintegration of Empires in the face of the emergence of nationalities across the world. 

20.          Imperialism and Colonialism:

(a)   South and South-East Asia

(b)   Latin America and South Africa

(c)  Australia

(d)  Imperialism and free trade: Rise of neo-imperialism.

21.          Revolution and Counter-Revolution:

(a)   19th Century European revolutions
(b)   The Russian Revolution of 1917-1921
(c)   Fascist Counter-Revolution, Italy and Germany.
(d)  The Chinese Revolution of 1949

22.          World Wars:
(a)   1st and 2nd World Wars as Total Wars: Societal implications
(b)   World War I: Causes and consequences
(c)  World War II: Causes and consequence

23.          The World after World War II:

(a)   Emergence of two power blocs
(b)  Emergence of Third World and non-alignment
(c) UNO and the global disputes. 

24.          Liberation from Colonial Rule:
(a)    Latin America-Bolivar
(b)   Arab World-Egypt
(c)  Africa-Apartheid to Democracy
(d)  South-East Asia-Vietnam  

25.          Decolonization and Underdevelopment:
(a)    Factors constraining development: Latin America, Africa

26.          Unification of Europe:

(a)   Post War Foundations: NATO and European Community
(b)  Consolidation and Expansion of European Community     
(c) European Union.

27.          Disintegration of Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World:
(a)    Factors leading to the collapse of Soviet communism and the Soviet Union, 1985-1991
(b)   Political Changes in Eastern Europe 1989-2001.
(c)  End of the cold war and US ascendancy in the World as the lone 
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