Are you one of those candidates who detest history but cannot avoid the compulsory subjects in UPSC CSE? Did you start panicking since you first looked at the syllabus for History in the Prelims and the Mains? Does the syllabus seem too vast to you? Or are you considering History as a possible Optional subject for the Mains? Do you want some clear and good study material available online? Are you looking for Modern History notes for UPSC? Do you want to clear the History exam with just self-study?

Find answers to all of the above and other sources related to the IAS Mains exam in this article. Read why you should choose History as your Optional and get notes for Indian and World History important topics.

Modern History Notes for UPSC

History is one of the most common topics that is preferred by a lot of aspirants as their optional subject. One of the main reasons for this is that the syllabus is straightforward and mostly factual, which makes it easier to prepare for the exam as there is a level of certainty attached to the subject.

Another reason is that the subject is important for the Prelims as well as the Mains examination. This allows the learners to worry about other subjects since they can prepare notes for the subject once and use them for both the exams. It is also an advantage that history, geography, civics, and economics are interrelated subjects and studying for one can help you relate the events in the other subject.

Also Read: A Detailed Guide for your UPSC History Exam Preparation

Main Topics Covered in the History Optional

The UPSC History exam syllabus can briefly be divided into Ancient History, Medieval History, Modern History, and Arts and Culture of India. This blog covers study resources for Modern Indian and World History. The topics covered under Modern History are mostly covered in Paper 2. The topics included are as follows-

The East India Company

  • The Age of the Marathas- Under this topic, you can study about Shivaji, the administration under the rules of the Marathas and the Peshwas.
  • Invasion in India- the different European powers that tried to invade India, the chronology, their motives, and the resistance of the Marathas.
  • East India Company- the establishment of the EIC, the Governor generals, the social and cultural developments under the British rule
  • Reform Movements- the different forms of resistance, their causes and cities where they took place, important personalities in those movements
  • Economic changes- the British Economic Policies, the people who were affected by these policies, how people fought back

The Freedom Struggle

  • The Freedom Struggle- important men and women, the movements that impacted the decision, the partition of Bengal/ Surat, INC, the various forms used to spread awareness
  • Mahatma Gandhi- his role in the freedom struggle, the leaders who followed him, the movements he led, and his experiments
  • Subhash Chandra Bose- his contribution to the freedom struggle, the formation of the INA
  • INC- the formation of the Indian National Congress, their meetings and resolutions, the formation of the Muslim League

Post Independence

  • The partition of India- Pakistan-Bangladesh
  • The term of Jawaharlal Nehru
  • The development of Indian Polity
  • Formation of the Indian Constitution

Also Read: How to Prepare for World History for UPSC Mains

Important Books and Resources to Study for History Optional

You can refer to the following resources while preparing for Modern Indian History for the Mains

  • NCERT Textbooks
  • Modern India by Bipin Chandra
  • India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra
  • Modern India by Rajiv Ahir
  • India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy by Ramchandra Guha

Also Read: How to Make Notes for UPSC Preparation?

How to Prepare for the UPSC History Exam?

You can start your UPSC preparation for the subject by going through the NCERT books first, it covers and explains all the basic concepts in layman language. You can start preparing topic-wise beginning with Ancient Indian History, moving on to Medieval and Modern Indian History, and then covering World History.

It is important that you note down the dates related to important events, and study the world map to connect the events with the areas concerned. You cannot prepare for a history exam without making notes for every important concept. Refer to online sources such as YouTube videos if you want to make learning interactive.


Now that you are familiar with the important concepts and syllabus for the History Optional Paper 2, have you changed your mind and decided to choose the subject for your Optional? In case you’re still not convinced to choose History, try and understand the concepts through animated videos and TV shows before you start with your preparation. Do let us know in the comments about your opinions with regard to the subject.

Also Read: Strategies and Methodology for UPSC History Preparation

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Modern Indian History Notes for UPSC: IAS Mains Optional Preparation Online
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Modern Indian History Notes for UPSC: IAS Mains Optional Preparation Online
Preparing for UPSC CSE 2021? Planning on Choosing History as your Optional for Mains? Want to study for the exam online? Find a list of resources for notes and preparation here.
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