How to Study Modern Indian History for UPSC 2022: Tips & Strategy

By Hemant Kumar|Updated : May 11th, 2022

How to Prepare Modern History for UPSC Prelims Exam 2022? This is one of the most asked questions by the UPSC aspirants. History as a subject of General studies paper 1 of UPSC IAS Prelims can be divided into three major portions – Ancient, Medieval, and Modern History. Modern history for UPSC holds substantial weightage alone. In the recent trends of UPSC prelims examination, the increasing number of questions from Modern India history definitely should bring the focus of aspirants towards the right analysis and strategy for preparation of the subject. 

In this article, we are providing you with a complete strategy with past year question analysis on how to study modern History for UPSC Prelims.

How to Prepare Modern History for UPSC Prelims 2022

In UPSC Prelims Modern India weighs approximately 40-50% of the history questions. Thus, modern history for UPSC requires thorough reading with a deep understanding. Candidates can and must jot down important details. Examples- Facts, to memorize them properly. Because with proper knowledge and memory of events one can surely eliminate the options even if the questions come tricky.

When giving a start to history’s preparation one must have sound knowledge of the UPSC Prelims Syllabus itself. Going by the Official UPSC Syllabus one can save time and effort. 

Modern History UPSC- Best Books

To study modern history UPSC candidates need to follow the best study materials. In this case, choosing the right UPSC Books could be immensely beneficial for the candidates. According to the syllabus of Modern History in Prelims, candidates can refer to these books

  • NCERT Class XI Modern India- Bipan Chandra
  • NCERT class 11 and 12th textbook
  • A Brief History of Modern India – Spectrum Publication
  • India’s struggle for independence- Bipan Chandra
  • History of Modern India- Bipan Chandra (For Post Independence)

Areas to Focus While Covering Modern History for UPSC Prelims

To prepare for the modern history in UPSC Prelims candidates need to keep these below-mentioned points in mind first.

  • Questions here are sometimes chronology-based with respect to the freedom movement.
  • Facts and figures have seen a new trend in recent exams. Therefore, a candidate must know the names and information (details, roles, post, and positions and their contributions if any) of the famous and key personalities. For example-Governor generals and Viceroys, Important leaders, and also their timelines.
  • Key Movements and revolts (National and regional) for peasants, civil or other causes.
  • Reforms and steps were taken by the British including the committees, legislation, and laws brought by them.
  • Newspapers, journals, books, and their authors.
  • Important events with judicious knowledge.

How to Study Modern History for UPSC? Some Useful Tips

Combining hard work with an effective preparation strategy would give you the best results. Here is how you should approach preparing for Modern history for UPSC.

  • Go through the detailed syllabus first and then the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers so as to analyze the importance of topics and areas that can be focused on less.
  • Aspirants should read the NCERTs of history first and especially class 12th.
  • Go through any one of the standard books as recommended above.
  • Make at least two-three readings of the book as Revision is the key.
  • Use any other Reference book only if needed and that too for selective reading purposes.
  • Make short notes for last-minute revision.
  • Revise and memorize.
  • Practice the question sets.

History as a subject has a vast syllabus but huge importance both in the prelims and mains. Both stages need different approaches and strategies to appear. For quick revision in prelims, one should revise their earlier source and the notes made out of that. Still, the factual basis is not enough alone because it is more towards conceptualization rather than generalization

Bets Approach for Modern History in UPSC:

Modern History of India deals with a series of events and happenings. Its syllabus is huge so to ease the understanding, It can be divided into sub-parts-

EARLY MODERN INDIA: Late Mughals and their policies which led to the decline and Emergence of the European Powers; Growth of the regional powers; Economic, social, and cultural policies of the British empire.

MID MODERN INDIA: Revolt of 1857 and its Impacts & consequences; Awakening due to social and religious reforms and movements; Indian National Congress – approach- Moderates and Extremists.

LATER MODERN INDIA: Beginning of the Indian freedom struggle; Different stages and phases of the Indian National Movement.

INDEPENDENCE AND AFTER: Challenges; Cabinet, the constituent assembly; First general elections; Indian states; Policies and ideology both internal and external.

How to Prepare for Early Modern History of India

  • First, get the basic idea of the fall of the Mughal empire. Then the struggle of the British with other European powers. Do memorize the wars and treaties with reasons and consequences.
  • Their roles, impacts, and contributions of them should be noted. One should focus on the differences in the form of government and type of Administration in the era before the arrival of the British and after their arrival. Note the key points which can be later used for comparison.
  • Regional uprisings of Maratha, Punjab, Sindh, and Mysore kingdoms, etc., and their approach towards the British needs a bit of analysis. This is further followed by the people’s uprisings and resistance against the British before 1857 which needs factual learning.

How to Prepare for Mid-Modern History of India in UPSC Prelims

  • 1857 Revolt- its economic, political, military, and social causes. Centre of the revolt and Leaders, British resistance and its failure.
  • Socio-religious reform movements always have been an interest of UPSC as it inculcates the efforts of the reformers at the ground level for the masses. Keep in mind their timeline, contributions, name of organizations, books, etc, and their impacts on the Indian society.
  • Foundation of Indian national congress and the leaders attached to it. Early nationalist methodology, approach, and contributions of moderate nationalists. Start Keeping the gist of the events from here as it marks the beginning of chronology in the Indian national movement.

How to Prepare for Later Modern History of India

  • Read various legislations, laws, and administrative policies of the British. For example, various Indian Councils Acts. British era witnessed a plethora of constitutional and judicial developments also, also keep a notice of changing British ideology with respect to Indian society and its relation with the world. For Example- Montford reforms, Press and labor legislation, the evolution of the police and education system, etc.
  • Internal and external policies. For example-Divide and rule, Subsidiary alliance, One-way free trade, keeping European powers at the arm’s length, etc. All the measures and their essential impacts on the masses and the society as a whole must be analyzed deeply as this can make you prepare for the mains also. Commissions set up– For example, the Lee commission, Woods Commission Etc.
  • With the beginning of the National struggle for freedom understand the differences in the ideologies of the upcoming leaders and the motive and missions of their organizations.
  • The emergence of Gandhi and the changed outlook of the Indian masses then.
  • Role of women, students, and the intelligentsia, etc. Movements have both an analytical and factual basis. Reed accordingly. Example- Civil disobedience movement and also the Round table conferences attached to it. Role of people at both upper and ground level plus contributions of the great Indian leaders abroad and the events involved with it including simultaneous revolutionary activities.
  • The famous trial of the nationalist period. INC with its overall analysis from its annual sessions, demands, decisions, and its opposition from other groups. Importance and contributions with factual analysis of other parties in the freedom movement. Etc.

Independence and After

Next, in the post-independence one needs to read the Making of the constitution, constituent assembly, elections, and the policies of the leadership concerned thereafter.

Modern History UPSC Previous Year’s Questions

Movements: civil uprisings, tribal revolts, and peasant movements: There was a major outbreak of revolts before 1857 against the British, and many were due to prevailing internal causes. You can make a timeline of major revolts, places, people involved in them, reasons or major cause, British reaction, and the consequences. Books, magazines, etc. dealing with the revolt or any special event involved with it should also be noted down. Handy notes will suffice.

The demand for the Tebhaga Peasant Movement in Bengal was for the following:

  1. the reduction in the share of the landlords from about half of the crop to one-third
  2. ownership of land to be given to the peasants as they were the actual cultivators of the land
  3. for uprooting the Zamindari system and the end of serfdom
  4. writing off all the debts of the peasants

The correct answer is 1st Option.

Commissions: Not just one but there are many questions asked previously on the committees/conferences/panel etc made for a special purpose during the British era. Make one-liner notes on the reason for their formation, members, date/year, Indian leaders, and the reactions. These are direct questions, therefore, revise the basic details of every topic before entering the exam hall.

The people of India agitated upon the arrival of the Simon Commission because of the following-

  1. Indians never wanted the review of the working of the Government of Act of 1919
  2. Simon Commission had recommended the abolition of Dyarchy in the Provinces
  3. because there was no Indian member in the Simon Commission
  4. The Simon Commission had suggested the partition of the country

The correct answer is 3rd Option

Post independent India: Not always a favorite topic of UPSC but seen in the recent trends. Questions like these always make a difficult choice. The only option available is either eliminate a few options and get to the correct one or leave the question unmarked. The choice has to be made judiciously.

Who among the following were the founders of the “Hindu mazdoor sabha” established in 1948?

  1. B Krishna Pillai, E.M.S. Namboodiripad and K.C. George
  2. Jayprakash Narayan, Deendayal Upadhyay and M.N. Roy
  3. C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, K.Kamaraj and VeeresalingamPantulu
  4. Ashok Mehta, T.S. Ramanujam and G.G. Mehta

The correct answer is 4th Option

Modern History inculcates lengthy portions of British hegemony in India, Indian society politics administration with economic, cultural, and societal impacts, and then the freedom movements with their key personalities and phases. Thus, it becomes essential to stay focused and not lose track of the subject during tough hours of preparation. A lot of material is available online for History. Try being focused and stick only to definite online sources because history is vast and you may lose the grip and dwindle online. A well-defined and time-bound strategy could definitely make you sail through the IAS preliminary exam. 


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Preparation Strategy for UPSC Modern History FAQs

  • Modern history is one of the most important sections of history in UPSC Prelims, and it covers this section candidates need to have a well-planned strategy. Candidates need to have a proper understanding of the syllabus, they need to glance through the previous year’s question paper and follow the strategy we have prepared above in this post.

  • Modern history examines the political, social, and economic facts in the modern world. It focuses on the concepts of political history and cultural development between the 17th to 20th centuries. 

  • The modern history of India deals with a series of events and happenings, and it is divided into early modern India, Mid modern India, Later modern India, Independence, and after. Candidates need to prepare all these sub-parts of modern India for UPSC Prelims.

  • The early modern history of India talks about the basic idea of the Mughal empire, and the struggle of the British with the European powers. Additionally, it covers the wars with reasons and the consequences.

  • The later modern history of Indian includes various legislations, laws, and administration of policies of the British. Additionally, it also contains internal and external policies such as divide and rule, one-way free trade, subsidiary alliance, etc.

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