[Modern India] How to Prepare Modern India GS1 for UPSC CSE Mains and Prelims


History can be divided into 3 parts. Ancient, Medieval and Modern History. Here we are dealing with Modern Indian History.

Modern India is important from exam point of view, as it comes for prelims as well as mains.

  • For prelims, you have to solve MCQs
  • For mains, you have to write descriptive answers.

What is Modern Indian History?

The story of how the country became a nation under the guidance of foreign power.

  • First, we will discuss UPSC Syllabus
  • Seondly we will discuss topics and micro topics that we are going to study and a lot of you asked
  • Third and most important- we will discuss how to prepare modern Indian History
  • Finally, I will tell you resources for modern Indian History

UPSC Syllabus Mentions

UPSC General Studies Mains Syllabus for modern Indian History mentions that we have to study-

Modern Indian history

  • from about the middle of the 18th century until the present i.e. from the 1750s to present.
  • significant events, personalities, issues: Discussed below

The Freedom Struggle

    1. Its various stages: like moderate phase, extremist phase and Gandhian phase
    2. important contributors: MK Gandhi, Dr BR AMbedkar, JL Nehru and so on. Also women’s contribution
    3. contributions from different parts of the country: contribution of Bengal, Bombay etc.

Topics that You Have to Read for Modern Indian History

  1. The disintegration of the Mughal Empire
  2. Rise and Fall of Regional States
  3. Conquest of British
  4. British Administration and Policies
  5. Socio-Religious Reform Movement 
  6. Tribal and Peasant Rebellions
  7. Revolt of 1857
  8. 1858-1885: Birth of Nationalism in India
  9. 1985-1905: Phase of Moderates
  10. 1905-1919: Extremist Phase
  11. 1919-1939: Gandhi Era
  12. 1939-1947: Transfer of power

Now let us discuss each topic one by one-

#1. The disintegration of the Mughal Empire

Here you will read how mighty Mughal empire disintegrated in smaller states like Bengal, Awadh and so on. Furthermore how regional states crippled the Mughal Empire.

#2. Rise and Fall of Regional States

Here we will read about Mysore, Maratha and Sikh power. You will read about the rise and fall of the Shivaji Maharaj, his administration and Maratha Empire. Also Anglo Mysore wars and the role of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. You will learn about Anglo Sikh wars and the significance of Raja Ranjit Singh.

#3. Conquest of British

Here you have to read the battle of Plassey and Buxar. These are hot and important topics. Here you will learn how Britishers emerged victorious among other European powers like French, Dutch and Portuguese and how they defeated regional and successor states. Also why the battle of Plassey and Buxar were an important point in Indian modern history. Also, it started a new phase in Indian history.

#4. British Administration and Policies 1757-1857

This was the phase of suppression of India. British consolidated their position in India. There are many angles that you have to cover in this phase because a lot of things were happening simultaneously. Like wars, reforms, new policies, new revenue systems and response of Indians to all these changes was outstanding.

  • Policies: Charter Acts of 1793, 1813, 1833, 1853
  • Revenues Systems: Permanent Settlement, Mahalwari System and Ryotwari System
  • Rebellions and Reforms: Below

#5. Socio-Religious Reform Movements

Here you will read about the great reformers of India and their contribution to the Indian society. I will name a few –

  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Brahmo Samaj
  • Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Mission
  • Dayananda Saraswati and Arya Samaj
  • Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and Aligarh Movement
  • Jyoriba Phule and Satya Shodhak Samaj
  • Dr BR Ambedkar and Dalit Movement and so on.

This reform movement is also known as the Indian Renaissance Movement i.e. the birth of rationalism, new art, literature and culture in India.

#6. The Rebellions in the British Era

Most importantly the Revolt of 1857: Causes, Nature, Importance and Outcomes. But the revolt of 1857 is not the only revolt. You have to read about tribal revolts like Munda rebellion, peasants revolt like Deccan revolt and so on.

#7. 1858- 1885: Birth of Nationalism

Here you have to focus on various British act like an act of 1858, act of 1861. its causes and effects. Here you have to read about- Birth of Indian Nationalism and role played by Bakimchandra Chatterjee.

Also, many political organisations were established in this phase like the East India Association, servants of Indian society. In which you will learn about Surendranath Banerjee, Anand Mohan Bose, MG Ranade and so on.

Most important development here is the birth of Indian National Congress in 1885 and the role of AO Hume in the formation of the INC.

Before that, you have to read about Lytton the bad and Ripon the good. Reactionary policies of conservative leader Lord Lytton and reversing of his policies by liberal leader Lord Rippon.

#8. 1885-1905 Phase of Moderate

This period is also known as a period of moderates like GK Gokhale, MG Ranade, Dadabhai Naoroji and so on. You will learn about the contribution of moderates and their contribution to the freedom struggle.

Here you will learn about the Role of Lord Curzon. Why did Indian Nationalism grow in this period? This period also saw a rise in the revolutionary movement.

#9. 1905-1919 Extremist Phase

Here the main man to focus is Lokmanya Tilak.

  • Swadeshi: This phase starts with the Partition of Bengal and response to partition by the nationalist.
  • Surat Split: Then rift between moderates and extremist which results in Surat split –
  • Reforms: Then Morley Minto reforms of 1909
  • Then you have to learn about Gadar party and Komagata Maru incident
  • First world war and stand of INC on that.
  • Also, you have to study home rule league and
  • the pact between extremist and moderates in the Lucknow session of 1916
  • Finally Montague statement about upcoming reforms.
  • The contribution of Lokmany Tilak is important in this phase

#10. 1919-1939 Gandhian Era

This era is the era of Gandhi. And Mind it, most of the questions are asked from this period. Mahatma Gandhi and Role of Women in the freedom struggle are two fav topics of UPSC.

Here we have to study the emergence of Gandhi and Champaran, Kheda and Ahmadabad episodes. Also, one important political development took place here was montage Chelmsford reforms.

Then we have to study Rowlatt satyagraha and Jalianwala Bagh Massacre. Furthermore, you have to study the Non-cooperation Movement and Khilafat Agitation. Then you have to study another rift in Congress

because of Swarjists and Non-Swarajists. Also some heroics of revolutionary nationalists like Bhagat Singh and his comrades. Then we have to study about civil disobedience movement and its two stages. We have to focus on women in Indian freedom struggle as stated earlier.

Then there is important political development under GOI Act 1935 which prescribed provincial autonomy. Then World War II and stand of Congress against war end this phase.

#11. 1939-1947: The Phase of Transition of Power

This is the phase of transition Here we have to study about Subhash Chandra Bose and his role in the freedom struggle. The difference in his and Gandhi’s method.

There are various acts and offers for the transition of powers like the August offer, Cripps mission, then movement like Quit India Movement, Rajaji formula, Liaqat Desai Pact, Cabinet mission, Mountbattenatton plan and final partition of India marks the end of Indian National Movement.

#12. Important Personalities

Starting from Dadabhai Naoroji, Tilak, Nehru, Sardar Patel, SC Bose, Dr BR Amberdkar and their comparison with Mahatma Gandhi will give you an immense edge over others. Also role women in freedom struggle like Annie Besant, Sarojini Naidu, Usha Mehta and so on.

#13. Other Strands and Leftover Topics

Here we will talk about all leftover but important topics like,
  • industrialisation in India,
  • Labour movements in India,
  • The Communist movement in India,
  • Role of Press, Education in British India,
  • Administrative and Political reforms of the British Government,
  • Evolution of India’s foreign policy and so on.
So these all topics and subtopics are essential for you to understand Modern Indian History.

Sources for Preparation

Now I will talk about the basic sources that are required you can change source according to your need, no issues in that.

  • NCERTs: First read NCERTs which cover the above-mentioned topic you can find NCERTs for free online. Old or new both are fine. You can watch our video regarding NCERTs if you are confused.
  • Standard Books: After reading NCERTs I will suggest you read the spectrum brief history of India. This book covers all above-mentioned topics.
  • PYQ: And most important resource will be previous years question that UPSC is asking.
  • Test Series: Update your notes using test series for prelims as well as mains.

No matter how many books you read or how many times you are reading those book if you are not aware of what UPSC is asking.

All of it will go waste. So previous years questions are most important. You can download them or print them.

Previous Years Questions on Modern Indian History

After watching the video a bunch of you were interested in question paper printout that I used in the video. So here it is, you can simply copy in Evernote or printout.

Also, try to answer these questions in the comment section. You can review each other’s answers also.

GS1 Syllabus Topic:

  1. MIH From Mid-18th century – Present
    1. significant events
    2. personalities
    3. issues
  2. Freedom Struggle
    1. Stages of struggle
    2. Important contributors
Throw light on the significance of the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi in the present times.2018
Clarify how mid-eighteenth century India was beset with the spectre of a fragmented polity.2017
Why did the ‘Moderates’ fail to carry conviction with the nation about their proclaimed ideology and political goals by the end of the nineteenth century?2017
Examine how the decline of traditional artisanal industry in colonial India crippled the rural economy.2017
The women’s questions arose in modern India as a part of the 19th-century social reform movement. What were the major issues and debates concerning women in that period?2017
Highlight the importance of the new objectives that got added to the vision of Indian independence since the twenties of the last century.2017
Explain how the Uprising of 1857 constitutes an important watershed in the evolution of British policies towards colonial India.2016
Discuss the role of women in the freedom struggle especially during the Gandhian phase.2016
Highlight the differences in the approach of Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for freedom.2016
How different would have been the achievement of Indian independence without Mahatma Gandhi? Discuss.2015
It would have been difficult for the Constituent Assembly to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India in just three years but for the experience gained with the Government of India Act, 1935. Discuss.2015
The third battle of Panipat was fought in 1761. Why were so many empire-shaking battles fought at Panipat?2014
Examine critically the various facets of economic policies of the British in India from the mid-eighteenth century till independence.2014
In what ways did the naval mutiny prove to be the last nail in the coffin of British colonial aspirations in India?2014
Defying the barriers of age, gender and religion, the Indian women became the torch bearer during the struggle for freedom in India. Discuss.2013
Several foreigners made India their homeland and participated in various movements. Analyze their role in the Indian struggle for freedom.2013
In many ways, Lord Dalhousie was the founder of modern India. Elaborate.2013

How to Prepare Modern Indian History

  • NCERT –> Std Book –> Test Series: The general approach will be like this cover NCERTs first then move to standard book and finally make notes out of each topic in the subsequent reading of both NCERTs and Standard book. Finally, add on those notes from time to time during preparation using test series.
  • Analyse PYQ: Most importantly, analyse previous year questions and find out important keywords
  • Timeline: Understand the basic timeline from 1757 onwards till 1947. You will learn that all events are interconnected. You will find out how one even led to another. Read NCERTs multiple times
  • WATCH: Furthermore, watch this video –> Timeline of the History of Modern India 1857 – 1947 (No vocals only background music)
  • Trends: Also, study trends or leftover topics like developments in education, civil services, decentralization/ centralization of power, labour movements, uprising etc.
  • Comparative analysis: Of important events and personalities is important and you should put specific focus on them. Why? because UPSC is asking more questions on this. For example, UPSC asked comparison between Gandhi and Ambedkar, Gandhi and Bose and so on.
  • Multiple Revisions: Focus on multiple revision. Do not bother about new or old NCERTs just complete the topics mentioned above. As you do multiple readings you get a broader picture.
  • Corelate and Connect: Most importantly, connect contemporary world events with the India national movement. After one reading you will find it is all interconnected.
    • Connect NCM with Khilafat issue and World War I
    • Connect Cripps Mission with World War II
  • Consolidate: Finally, finish remaining topics for a sense of completion. Also, give mock tests, for consolidation.

Booklist for Modern Indian History

NCERT: In NCERTs Choose any one among these two –

    1. Old NCERT of Modern India by Bipin Chandra OR
    2. Class XIIth New NCERT

Also, there are some topics that you can read from Class VIII the History NCERT.

  • No matter which source you read as long as you are finishing topics.
  • In the standard book, I will prefer Spectrum brief history of modern India

Watch: Timeline of Modern India



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