Paper- 1

General Studies -I 250 Marks


Weightage in Examination


Topic: Indian Heritage and Culture

Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

On an average 2 Questions are there in mains i.e 25 Marks.

Here You have to read Indian Art & Architecture from Ancient to modern times. Topics that have to be covered

  • Religious Philosophies
  • Temple Architecture
  • Dance, Drama, Music
  • Different styles of Painting
  • Puppetry
  • Introduction to fine arts: NCERT
  • NIOS
  • India Year Book: Culture chapter
  • Old NCERT: Ancient India by R.S. Sharma
  • Indian Art and Culture: By Nitin Singhania

Two Important Sources for this is


In this you will have good information about architecture. Question like

Highlight the Central Asian and Greco-Bactrian elements in the Gandhara art. (2019)

गांधराई कला में मध्य एशियाई एवं यूनानी-बैक्ट्रियाई तत्वों को उजागर कीजिए?

Early Buddhist Stupa-Art while depicting folk motifs and narratives successfully expounds Buddhist ideals. Elucidate.” UPSC : 2016

  • NIOS

These two sources are sufficient. For further Reference you can also refer

  • CCRT Website
  • Nitin Singhania Book

TheCORE funda: This part of UPSC understood by candidates to be quite tough. Output is less in comparison to workout. So many candidates leave this and cover some basis only.

Topic: Modern Indian History& Freedom Struggle

  • Indian Freedom Struggle of independence – Bipin Chandra
  • A Brief History Of Modern India: Spectrum Publication
  • Old NCERT: Bipin Chandra

Syllabus: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues.

In this part we have to cover time period from 1750s to present. This part not just covers freedom struggle for which UPSC mentioned different heading. Here focus should be on events personalities and issues. This part not just want rote learning but intellectual capability to think, debate and reason.

For preparation of this part NCERT will  be sufficient and apart from this regular history books which we are require to read to cover freedom struggle. Apart from this, Current affairs is also an important aspect to prepare this section. For example, in 2016 CSE mains paper UPSC asked a question related to Netaji.

Many voices had strengthened and enriched the nationalist movement during the Gandhian phase. Elaborate. (2019)

गाँधीवादी प्रावस्था के दौरान विभिन्न स्वरों ने राष्ट्रवादी आन्दोलन को सुदृढ़ एवं समृद्ध बनाया था| विस्तारपूर्वक स्पष्ट कीजिए?

“Highlight the differences in the approach of Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for freedom. (200 Words, CSE– 2016 )”

It was asked because documents related to Netaji Declassified and in several National Daily Netaji issue was in highlight and many editorials appeared comparing Gandhi & Subhash.

Other example: Personality related question

Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. B R Ambedkar, despite having divergent approaches and strategies, had a common goal of amelioration of the downtrodden. Elucidate.CSE: 2015


Syllabus: The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors or contributions from different parts of the country.

This part demands specific subject knowledge. This part can be prepared from:

  • Bipin Chandra (Book will develop your thought process and will be helpful in writing answer.
  • Spectrum
  • If time permits can also cover another book of Bipin Chandra Plassey to Partition.

This part not just require knowledge of events but also imagination and intellectual capability to relate. This can be understood from 2015 CSE Question:

It would have been difficult for the Constituent Assembly to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India in just hree years, but its experience gained with the Government of India Act, 1935 .Discuss.   CSE: 2015

Assess the role of British imperial power in complicating the process of transfer of power during the 1940s. (2019)

1940 के दशक के दौरान सत्ता हस्तांतरण की प्रक्रिया को जटिल बनाने में ब्रिटिश साम्राज्यिक सत्ता की भूमिका का आकलन कीजिए|

Topic: Post Independence

Must Read Books Reference Books
  • India After Independence: Bipin Chandra (Selected Chapters)

Syllabus:  Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.

For preparation of this You can watch: Pradhan Mantri Series from ABP to have general idea.

To metamorphose knowledge study Chapter 6 to 12 of India Since Independence – Bipan Chandra


Chapters 8 to 14 from India After Gandhi: The History of The World’s Largest Democracy by Ramchandra Guha

Topic: World History

                               Must Read                             Reference Books
  • 9 th& 10th NCERT – India and the contemporary world
  • History of the World from the Late Nineteenth to the Early Twenty First Century: Arjun Dev
  • Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe

Syllabus: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc. – their forms and effect on the society.

You can prepare this from IX & X old NCERT of History. These books not available. Alternative is

Book by Arjun Dev – History of the World from the Late Nineteenth to the Early Twenty First Century


You can refer Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe (Buy From Amazon India)). This book  covers all topics of this part of the syllabus, except for Industrial revolution. Here are also question not just traditional University examination:

Explain how the foundations of the modern world were laid by the American and French Revolutions.

स्पष्ट कीजिए की अमरीकी एवं फ्रांसीसी क्रांतियों ने आधुनिक विश्व की आधारशिलाएँ किस प्रकार निर्मित की थी?


                           Must Read Books                                              Reference Books
  • NCERT -12th : Indian Society NCERT -12th : Social Change and Development In India
  • Indian Social Structure & Change – K L Sharma
  • Social Problems in India – Ram Ahuja
  • EPW
  • Current Issues

Topic: 1

“Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.”

This part can be covered with NCERT.

TheCORE funda: Better to read thousand times than to read a thousand books once.

For this don’t roam here & there. Just refer to   NCERT – Indian Society Class 12


  • Indian Society – Ram Ahuja
  • Social Problems in India – Ram Ahuja

Topic 2

Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems, and their remedies.”

Question from this section are based on general understanding and can be found in National daily and National magazines. This topic is mainly current focussed and demand awarness of surroundings. For example, Question like

Critically examine whether the growing population is the cause of poverty OR poverty is the main cause of population increase in India.   CSE 2015

What are the continued challenges for women in India against time space? (2019)

भारत में महिलाओं के समक्ष समय और स्थान संबंधित निरंतर चुनौतियाँ क्या-क्या है?

There is no standard book. One can follow Yojana or can read some selected articles of EPW

Topic 3

Effects of globalization on Indian society.

This topic is also general in nature and further it can be subcategorised as

  • Effect on Women
  • Effect on Elders
  • Effects on Youth
  • Effects on Informal or Formal Labour force
  • Effect on Family

Likewise this topic can have many categories. Although books

Are there but they will form basic understanding and this topic can be prepared from Current issues.

Are we losing our local identity for the global identity? Discuss. (2019)

क्या हम वैश्विक पहचान के लिए अपनी स्थानीय पहचान खोते जा रहे है? चर्चा कीजिए?

Topic 4

Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

This topic is also general in nature and current issue based. You will also come across these while you will  be reading Indian History. Reading from there will make your concept clear.  You can also googled out these but no need to go in depth.

Question: CSE 2016

What is the basis of regionalism? Is it that unequal distribution of benefits of development on regional basis eventually promotes regionalism? Substantiate your answer.

PART III (Geography)

                               Must Read Books                                    Reference Books
  • NCERT -Xith & XIIth
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography 1st Edition
  • Indian Geography: Khullar
  • World Geography: Majid Hussain
  • Ecology and Environment – P D Sharma
  • Down to earth, Current Affairs

Now a days from this part geography is not focussing on conventional questions. They are hardly one or two. Mostly are from Current issue based and pertain to Urbanisation, Disaster, Population, Resources, Climate Change etc. To fetch more from here Current issues will be handy.

Part I

Salient features of world’s physical geography.

This is static part and for thisrefer

Question from this are technical in Nature. Like

How do ocean currents and water masses differ in their impact on marine life and coastal environment? Give suitable examples. (2019)

महासागर धाराएँ और जल राशियाँ समुद्री जीवन और तटीय पर्यावरण पर अपने प्रभावों में किस-किस प्रकार परस्पर भिन्न है? उपयुक्त उदहारण दीजिए?

Discuss the concept of air mass and explain its role in macro-climatic changes. (CSE: 2016)

Explain the factors responsible for the origin of ocean currents. How do they influence
regional climates, fishing and  navigation? CSE 2015

PART II (Resources)

Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India). Bascially here simple knowledge of Weber and other theories is requires. Questions are generic in nature:

Discuss the factors for localisation of agro-based food processing industries of North-West India.b(2019)

उत्तर-पश्चिमी भारत के कृषि-आधारित खाद्य प्रक्रमण उद्योगों के स्थानीयकरण के कारकों पर चर्चा कीजिए?

Also refer Yojana & Kurukshetra

Part III

Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location – changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes”

This is actually covered under books which are referred above. This part also overlaps with current affairs. Whatever important issue related to geographical phenomena is there in news, prepare that topic in detail from your study material.

Topic critical changes in geographical featuresis  quite broad and  related to climate change and other anthropogenic factors (such as depletion of resources, dumping of wastes, air pollution etc). Geographical features like rainforests, ice caps, rivers, corals, cyclones all get affected by climate change. Anthropogenic factors are involved in increasing desertification, vanishing forests, biodiversity, pollution of rivers and lakes, etc.

This topic overlaps environment & Ecology section. Question from this topic are like

How can the mountain ecosystem be restored from the negative impact of development initiatives and tourism? (2019)

पर्वत पारिस्थितिकी तंत्र को विकास पहलों और पर्यटन के ऋणात्मक प्रभाव से किस प्रकार पुन:स्थापित किया जा सकता है?

The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are reaching the limits of their ecological carrying capacity due to tourism. Critically evaluate. CSE 2015