Modern Indian history is a crucial part of the UPSC syllabus both for the mains and the prelims exam. In the mains exam, it is part of the General Studies Paper I. Modern history is a vast subject and it encompasses many facets like the establishment of British hegemony in India, the transformations in Indian society, politics, economics and culture as a result of it, the freedom struggle, its various phases and personalities and so on. While reading history, it is easy to get sucked into the web of information and analyses, and lose track of your IAS preparation in the process. This would be detrimental to your civil services dream. It would be sensible to have a well-defined and time-bound strategy to cover history. Ultimately, your goal is to clear the UPSC exam and not earn a doctorate in the subject! Read this article to get a 50-day strategy to cover modern Indian history for the UPSC exam.
Day 1: Syllabus + Previous years’ papers
The first step to studying any subject for the IAS exam is to be thorough with the syllabus. So, the first day, you must read the syllabus well and also go through previous years’ question papers.
Check the UPSC syllabus here.
Days 2 – 7: Classes VI – X NCERTs
Read NCERTs of classes VI to X. These textbooks are for social science, so you have to read only the chapters dedicated to history. This shouldn’t take more than 6 days. (You can use either old or new NCERTs).
Days 8 – 11: Classes XI – XII NCERTs
After that, you must read the history NCERTs for classes XI and XII. Alternatively, you can also read Tamil Nadu Board Class XII textbook. It is also quite good for the IAS exam. Don’t attempt to read both the NCERTs and the Tamil Nadu Board book together – either one will suffice.
Days 12 – 32: A Brief History of Modern India – Rajiv Ahir (Spectrum Publications)
This can be called a book with high return on investment. You are recommended to read it thoroughly multiple times. A lot of questions can be asked directly from this book both for the mains and the prelims. The summaries given at the end of each chapter are important. If you have chosen not to read this book and wish to read another, you can at least go through the summary pages from Rajiv Ahir’s ‘A Brief History of Modern India’. In this book, the first 6 chapters are very important and must preferably be read in one go for a better understanding. The chapters from 7 onwards are important more for the mains exam.
Days 33 – 43: India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra (Penguin Publications)
After finishing Ahir’s book, you can venture onto Bipan Chandra’s history book. From here, now you only have to read the parts left out in the previous book, and the important sections. Bipan Chandra’s book is more detailed. When you read this book, try to understand the analyses given as it will help in mains answer writing. Also important is to make notes while reading this book, as this would highly enhance your returns from reading this book. Again, if you have less than 3 months for the exam, it is better to avoid this book as it is quite exhaustive and you might not be able to cover the syllabus.
Days 44 – 45: Lucent General Knowledge
You can read the history-relevant sections from this book. It does help in a quick revision of the important facts.
Days 46 – 50: Revision
At this stage, you should revise all that you have learnt. Revision is a must as it helps you internalise what you have read before and also improves your recall. You can also assess your own understanding of the studied topics and make necessary corrections.
Also Read | UPSC 2017 Mains Exam – Key Revision tips
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