This Page consist in detail analysis regarding GS paper -1 of UPSC Exam.

Recommended Books

Along with each topic is provided below. it also includes resources which are available online.

Strategy and preparation

Detail strategy for each section of topic is provided in the analysis Below

Previous Year paper

Neatly Arranged have been provided gs paper 1 previous paper.


GS paper 1 total have 18 topics prescribes in syllabus which can be grouped in total 6 part mentioned below. Geography and history are the most important component of the syllabus. Lets delve into Individual topics in syllabus analysed in great detail - 

1. Geography

2. Indian Heritage And Culture

3. Modern History

4. Post Independent India

5. Society

6. World History

1. Geography 

Syllabus : There are three major Topics in geography section as provided by UPSC (Highlighted in Green below). 


  • Salient features of worlds physical geography.

Physical geography is one of the complex parts of Geography, with minimum rote learning and focusing more on understanding concepts and phenomenon just like science. This part is also very important when preparing for mains as it has at least some marks allotted to itself, if not more.

Traditionally it is a static part, but the questions are also asked keeping in mind the current development as well. Generally, candidates rush to cover geography from a number of books. But the evolving trend and pattern by UPSC say otherwise and focus is shifting more towards analytical questions than static.

  • Distribution of key natural resources across the world; factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).

This part carries the maximum weightage among all other topics of GS Paper 1 and therefore proper focus must be given in order to fetch good marks in GS Paper 1. Most of the topics can be prepared from static books but a reference can be found from newspapers too as the questions have an undertone of current events as evident from a few questions asked in 2016.frequently.

  • Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

These topics can best be prepared through books preferably NCERT, G.C Leong as well as documentaries and newspapers because most of the changing geophysical phenomenon be it Earthquake, Cyclones, El-Nino, Tsunami etc are part of modern geographical changes due to climate change or Global Warming and are often covered in newspapers and magazines very

  • Geographical features and their location changes in critical geographical features (including water bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

It includes mostly study of physical geography of class 11th NCERT. It includes geomorphology, exogenic and indogenic processes. Go into detail of each of the chapter.

The bove two topic, it is better to understand the concept along with reading newspapers and then clubbing both as to write a good answer during exam. Also, Geography becomes very interesting when you visualize various phenomenons with the help from various documentaries available on youtube.

2. Indian Heritage and Culture

Syllabus provided as per UPSC: -  Indian Culture will cover the salient aspects of Art forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

The above topic is abstract and subpart of what to study can be understood from type of questioned asked. Mostly it may be furthur divided in following parts(Highlighted in green)

1. Indian Architecture and Sculpture

India has rich architecture and sculpture across different parts of the country and changes from time to time. Rock cut architecture, Pottery, Sculpture and Architecture of different civilizations and time period,  Indo-Islamic architecture etc. all need to be studied.


Previous year Question:

a). Highlight the Central Asian and Greco-Bactrian elements in the Gandhara art. (Answer in 150 words) 10 Marks (2019)

b).How do you justify the view that the level of excellence of the Gupta numismatic art is not at all noticeable in later times? (2017)

c). Early Buddhist Stupa-art, while depicting folk motifs and narratives successfully expounds Buddhist ideals. Elucidate. (2016)

d). Gandhara sculpture owed as much to the Romans as to the Greeks. Explain. (2014)

e). Chola architecture represents a high watermark in the evolution of temple architecture. Discuss. (2013)

2.. Indian Dance forms, Music, Literature and Painting

Classical and folk dances of India are an important part of India s cultural heritage. Indian Theatre is an indispensable part of Indian culture.India has a rich history of literary materials with different types of literature like Vedic literature, Jain and Buddhist literature, Sangam literature, Upanishads, Puranas, nationalist literature etc.

Music of India includes various types of classical music, folk music, spiritual and bhakti music etc. Different types of music are associated with different musical instruments.

Previous year Question:


1. Discuss the ‘Tandava’ dance as recorded in early Indian inscriptions. (2013)


3. Indian Literature

India has a rich history of literary materials with different types of literature like Vedic literature, Jain and Buddhist literature, Sangam literature, Upanishads, Puranas, nationalist literature etc.


Previous year Question:

a). Krishnadeva Raya, the King of Vijayanagar, was not only an accomplished scholar himself but was also a great patron of learning and literature. Discuss.(2016)

b). Though not very useful from the point of view of a connected political history of South India, the Sangam literature portrays the social and economic conditions of its time with remarkable vividness. Comment.(2013)



4. Cultural institution and Philosophy

Different cultural institutions in India, schools of philosophy, Indian handicrafts, UNESCO lists of heritage (Tangible and Intangible) etc. 


Previous year Question:

a). Safeguarding the Indian art heritage is the need of the moment. Discuss. (2018)

b). The Bhakti movement received a remarkable re-orientation with the advent of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Discuss (2018)

c). Assess the importance of the accounts of the Chinese and Arab travellers in the reconstruction of the history of India. (2015)


d). The ancient civilization in Indian sub-continent differed from those of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece in that its culture and traditions have been preserved without a breakdown to the present day. Comment.(2014)

e). To what extent has the urban planning and culture of the Indus Valley Civilization provided inputs to the present day urbanization? Discuss. (2013)


f). Sufis and medieval mystic saints failed to modify either the religious ideas and practices or the outward structure of Hindu / Muslim societies to any appreciable extent. Comment (2013)


Syllabus as per UPSC consist of 2 Topics Below : -

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

  2. The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

Note that this topic wants you to cover important events from 1750s to Present. It’s not just related to freedom struggle. You should focus on all important events and contributions of personalities that are significant and have had important impact on nation till now.

Also, this sub-topic has the highest marks weightage in GS Paper 1 when we analyse the trend since 2013, particularly focussing on India's freedom struggle with prominent focus on events, personalities and issues surrounding it.


Therefore focus must be on comprehensively reading the above-mentioned books and it is also very important to understand the background and consequences of a particular event/issue.

Current events have also a large role to play in this part as questions are asked directly/indirectly related to a particular event which is in the news.


Sub Topic - Scenario before 1857

  • Later Mughals

  • Regional powers in 18th Century

  • The British conquest of India

  • The wars during British conquest of India

  • British Administration before 1857

Previous year questions:




  1. Why indentured labour was taken by British from India to other colonies? Have they been able to preserve their cultural identity over there? 

  2. Examine how the decline of traditional artisanal industry in colonial India crippled the rural economy. 

  3. Explain how the upraising of 1857 constitutes an important watershed in the evolution of British policies towards colonial India. 



  1. The third battle of Panipat was fought in 1761. Why were so many empire-shaking battles fought at Panipat?  

  2. Examine critically the various facets of economic policies of the British in India from mid-eighteenth century till independence. 


Sub Topic :- Revolt of 1857

  • Indian National Movement (1858-1905)

  • Early Nationalists and Swadeshi Movement

  • Government of India Act 1909

  • Home rule league movement

Previous year questions:



  1. The 1857 Uprising was the culmination of the recurrent big and small local rebellions that had occurred in the preceding hundred years of British rule. Elucidate. (Answer in 150 words) 10 Marks 




  1. Why indentured labour was taken by British from India to other colonies? Have they been able to preserve their cultural identity over there? 




  1. Explain how the upraising of 1857 constitutes an important watershed in the evolution of British policies towards colonial India.  


Sub Topic - The struggle for Swaraj

  • Montague’s statement – Aug 1917

  • Emergence of Gandhi – as a mass leader

  • Khilafat & non-Cooperation Movement

  • (NCM) " Swaraj party " Revolutionary Terrorism phase II (1920’s)

  • Simon Commission and Nehru report


Previous year questions:



  1. Many voices had strengthened and enriched the nationalist movement during the Gandhian phase. Elaborate. (Answer in 250 words) 15 Marks 



  1. Throw light on the significance of thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi in the present times. 




  1. 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?  




  1. Discuss the role of women in the freedom struggle especially during the Gandhian phase. 

  2. Highlight the difference in the approach of Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for freedom. 


  1. How different would have been the achievement of Indian independence without Mahatma Gandhi? Discuss. 

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

Sub Topic -  Intimation of freedom

  • Civil Disobedience Movement

  • Round table conference

  • Poona pact

  • Government of India Act 1935

  • Tripuri session – 1939

  • August offer

  • Individual Satyagarha 1940-41


Previous year questions:




  1. Assess the role of British imperial power in complicating the process of transfer of power during the 1940s. (Answer in 250 words) 15 Marks 




  1. 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. 


Sub Topic - Towards achievement of freedom

  • Popular struggles in the princely states

  • 2nd World War and Nationalist response


Previous year questions:




  1. In what ways did the naval mutiny prove to be the last nail in the coffin of British colonial aspirations in India? 

  2. What were the major political, economic and social developments in the world which motivated the anti-colonial struggle in India? 

Sub Topic - Partition of India

  • Rise of Communalism

  • Wavell plan

  • Cabinet Mission Plan

  • Mountbatten plan

Previous year questions:


  1. Clarify how mid-eighteenth century India was beset with the spectre of a fragmented polity? 

  2. Highlight the importance of new objective that got added to the vision of Indian independence since the twenties of the last century. 


7. During the freedom struggle

  • Indian renaissance/socio-religious movement

  • Civil Rebellions during British

  • Tribal movements during British period

  • Peasant’s movement during British period

  • Working class Movement (1850-1900)

  • Growth of communalism

  • Left and communist trends in

  • National Movement

  • Press and education during British period

  • Role of women in Freedom Struggle

  • Governor generals of India

  • Viceroys of India

  • Important persons

  • Important news paper/journals

  • Congress sessions

Previous year questions:



  1. Examine the linkages between the ninteenth century's 'Indian Renaissance' and the emergence of national identity. (Answer in 150 words) 10 Marks 



  1. 1.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? 



  1. Defying the barriers of age, gender and religion, the Indian women became the torch-bearer during the struggle for freedom in India. Discuss. 

  2. Several foreigners made India their homeland and participated in various movements. Analyze their role in the Indian struggle for freedom

  3. In many ways, Lord Dalhousie was the founder of modern India.” Elaborate. 

  4. Critically discuss the objectives of Bhoodan and Gramdan Movements initiated by Acharya Vinoba Bhave and their success. 


Syllabus as per UPSC consist 1 Topic Below


  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country

Post-independence consolidation is a lot more interesting topic than Indian National Movement because it has its effects on the present political scenario of the country too. Apart from reading books and Newspapers, it is also suggested to watch a few documentaries or special episodes on this subtopic.


Sub Topic-

Re-organisation of states

  • Constitutional provisions related to State formation

  • Factors that lead to merger

  •  Accession of the princely states

  • Accession of States under France and Portuguese

  • Accession of Sikkim

  • Rehabilitation of the Refugees

  • Federal crisis

  • Regional aspirations, insurgencies and areas of tension

  • Accommodation and national integration

2. Linguistic Regionalism In India

  • Constitutional position and

  • language policy

  • Language and regionalism

  • Recent controversy due to rise of Hindi

Previous Year Paper 


 1. Discuss whether formation of new states in recent times is beneficial or not for the economy of India?


  1. Has the formation of linguistic states strengthened the cause of Indian unity?

  2. Discuss whether formation of new states in recent times is beneficial or not for the economy of India?


  1. Analyze the circumstances that led to the Tashkent Agreement in 1966. Discuss the highlights of the Agreement.

  2. Critically examine the compulsions which prompted India to play a decisive role in the emergence of Bangladesh.

Questions from this part are very few and therefore not much time should be devoted to this part as we can see that there were no questions from this part in 2014, 2015 and 2016, but it is also not advisable to ignore it completely. Newspaper reading is mandatory for this topic, preferably The Hindu as the questions are very much current specific.


Syllabus of Indian Society in GS Paper 1 as per UPSC Syllabus are

  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

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

  • Effects of globalization on Indian society.

  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.


Lets discuss above topic individually in more detail.


Sub Topic: 1. Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India

Salient feature of Indian society and diversity of India- includes some sub topics which is important for mains point of view i.e Family (nuclear, joint, extended), Diversity(Religious, ethnic, regional etc) and integrity in india , Colonial legacy, Caste system, Marriage, Cultural lag, Composite Culture, Representative democracy, Agrarian society, villages, Tribes, Dalit movement.

Previous year Question:




  1. What makes the Indian society unique in sustaining its culture? Discuss. (Answer in 150 words) 10 Marks

  2. Do we have cultural pockets of small India all over the nation? Elaborate with examples. (Answer in 250 words) 15 Marks



  1. “Caste system is assuming new identities and associational forms. Hence caste system cannot be eradicated in India.” Comment.




  1. In the context of the diversity of India, can it be said that the regions form cultural units rather than the States? Give reasons with examples for your viewpoint.

  2. The spirit of tolerance and love is not only an interesting feature of Indian society from very early times, but it is also playing an important part at the present. Elaborate

  3. What are the two major legal initiatives by the State since Independence addressing discrimination against Scheduled Tribes (STs)?




  1. Why are the tribals in India referred to as ‘the Scheduled Tribes’? Indicate the major provisions enshrined in the Constitution of India for their upliftment



  1. Describe any four cultural elements of diversity in India and rate their relative significance in building a national identity.

  2. Debate the issue of whether and how contemporary movements for assertion of Dalit identity work towards annihilation of caste.

  3. Debate the issue of whether and how contemporary movements for assertion of Dalit identity work towards annihilation of caste.

  4. How do you explain the statistics that show that the sex ratio in Tribes in India is more favourable to women than the sex ratio among Scheduled Castes?



1.The life cycle of a joint family depends on economic factors rather than social values. Discuss.

Sub Topic: 2 -  Role of women and women s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

Role of women and women organization -

There are two parts of this topic and we will treat them separately,


Part 1: Role of women and women s organization- Important keywords regarding Mains point of view


a)    Role of women - Women empowerment related questions are asked regularly in the exam, Empowerment of women, Patriarchal society , Status of women, Challenges ,Impact (socio- economic, socio- cultural, socio- political) on women, 


b)   Types of women’s organizations - Reforms Movement, Organisation related to women.   


c)    Level of penetration


d)   Women’s organization – a ray of hope few case studies


e)   Problems faced by women’s organizations is a larger vocal role possible and ways to achieve the same


f)     Role of SHGs, Micro finance Institutions


Previous year Question:




  1. "Empowering women is the key to control population growth." Discuss. (Answer in 150 words) 10 Marks

  2. What are the continued challenges for women in India against time and space? (Answer in 250 words) 15 Marks



  1. ‘Women’s movement in India has not addressed the issues of women of lower social strata.’ Substantiate your view.



1. Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization on women in India.


  1. How does patriarchy impact the position of a middle class working woman in India?

  2. Why do some of the most prosperous regions of India have an adverse sex ratio for women? Give your arguments.

  3. Discuss the various economic and socio-cultural forces that are driving increasing feminization of agriculture in India.



  1. “Male membership needs to be encouraged in order to make women’s organization free from gender bias.” Comment.



Part 2: Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

  1. Population and associated issues

  2. poverty and developmental issues

  3. Important keywords regarding Mains point of view

  4. The Socio-Economic problems of urbanization – Overcrowding, Trafic congestion, Housing, Slums, Unempolyment, Transport, Pollution, Crime etc.


Previous year Question:



  1. ‘Despite implementation of various programmes for eradication of poverty by the government in India, poverty still exists’. Explain by giving reasons.




  1. “An essential condition to eradicate poverty is to liberate the poor from the process of deprivation.” Substantiate this statement with suitable examples.




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

Sub Topic 3: Effects of globalization on Indian society


Important keywords regarding Mains point of view

  • The positive and negative impact of Globalization on women, child, old age and weaker section of society, culture.

  • Industrialization led to the the emergence of migration of people for better employment opportunity. 

​Previous year Question:




  1. Are we losing your local identity for the global identity? Discuss. (Answer in 250 words) 15 Marks



  1. Globalization is generally said to promote cultural homogenization but due to this cultural specificities appear to be strengthened in the Indian Society.’ Elucidate



  1. To what extent globalisation has influenced the core of cultural diversity in India? Explain.

  2. Discuss the changes in the trends of labour migration within and outside India in the last four decades.



  1. Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization on women in India.

  2. Discuss the changes in the trends of labour migration within and outside India in the last four decades



  1. Critically examine the effect of globalization on the aged population in India.

  2. Discuss the various social problems which originated out of the speedy process of urbanization in India.


Sub Topic 4:  Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.


  • Important keywords regarding Mains point of view

  • Social empowerment is understood as the process of developing a sense of autonomy and self-confidence- Empower the women and weaker section of society.

  • Communalism is an ideology – Group that share common identity.

  • Regionalism an ideology that holds people together belonging to specific region leading to their voluntaristic integration.

  • Secularism- Public sphere activity should be free from influence of religion.


Previous year question:



  1. What are the challenges to our cultural practices in the name of secularism? (Answer in 150 words) 10 Marks



  1. How the Indian concept of secularism is different from the western model of secularism? Discuss.

  2. Communalism arises either due to power struggle or relative deprivation’. Argue by giving suitable illustrations.  



1. Distinguish between religiousness/religiosity and communalism giving one example of how the former has got transformed into the latter in independent India.



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



  1. How do the Indian debates on secularism differ from the debates in the West?



  1. Growing feeling of regionalism is an important factor in generation of demand for a separate State. Discuss.

Sub Topic : 3 - Effects of Globalization on Indian Society

This is a general subtopic and for this, no book as such is required because while studying from NCERT Sociology (12th) you will generate enough content to understand this topic.

Sub Topic: 4 -  Communalism, regionalism & secularism; Social empowerment

This is the most important sub-topic among all other subtopics of Social Science as it has got the highest weightage of marks. Also, these topics do not require any scholar understanding, basic knowledge and analytical perspective is more than enough.

As you can see these topics are dynamic and relevant content can be found in newspapers and YOJANA articles.

These questions do not require you to mug up any book. What is needed is to multiply your knowledge base and analyse topics through different lenses and for this a thorough reading of Newspaper articles and Journals like EPW, Yojana and Kurukshetra is required, also debates and discussion on Rajya Sabha TV is of immense help.


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.

Subtopic of World History: 1 - Beginning of Modern Age

  • Disintegration of the Feudal System

  • Renaissance

    • Humanism

    • Art and Architecture

    • Literature

    • Science

    • Reformation etc

  • Explorations, Discovery, Trade

  • Colonization – Rise of Nation State

  • The English Revolution


Previous year questions:




  1. Why did the industrial revolution first occur in England? Discuss the quality of life of the people there during the industrialization. How does it compare with that in India at present?




  1. “‘Latecomer’ Industrial Revolution in Japan involved certain factors that were markedly different from what West had experienced.” Analyze.

  2. “Africa was chopped into States artificially created by accidents of European competition.” Analyze


Sub Topic : 2 -  French Revolution

  • Causes

  • The revolution in France

  • France under Napoleon

  • Impact of revolution

  • Significance of revolution


Previous year questions:




1. Explain how the foundations of the modern world were laid by the American and French Revolutions. (Answer in 250 words) 15 Marks


Sub Topic : 3 - Nationalism in Europe

  • Rise of the nation- state system

  • Unification of Italy

  • Unification of German


Sub Topic :4 -  Colonialism and Imperialism

  • Colonialism

  • The age of Imperialism (1870-1914)

  • Imperialism in Asia

  • Analysis of Colonialism

Sub Topic: 5 - Emergence of USA

  • Foundation of American Colonies

  • The Independence of

  • United States of America

  • The American Revolutionary War

  • What was the impact of American Revolution?

  • Political Effects of the Revolution

  • How did the American Revolution influence the French Revolution?

  • US Civil War

  • Impact of Civil War on USA

  • Global Impact of US Civil War

  • Impact on India


Previous year questions:




1.“American Revolution was an economic revolt against mercantilism.” Substantiate.


Sub Topic: 6 -  World War-I

  • Major causes of the war

  • Course of the war

  • Analysis of major events of the war

  • Consequences of World War I

  • Aftermath of World War I

  • League of Nations


7. Russian Revolution

  • Major events in pre-revolution Russia

  • Causes

  • Course of revolution

  • Consequences

  • Aftermath of the war

  • Post-Lenin Russia


Previous year questions:



  1. Explain how the foundations of the modern world were laid by the American and French Revolutions. (Answer in 250 words) 15 Marks


Sub Topic : 8 - Inter-War Years (1919 To 1939)

  • The Great Depression

  • The Great Depression- an

  • economic perspective

  • Rise of Fascism in Italy

  • Rise of Nazism in Germany

  • Soviet Union (USSR)


Previous year questions:




  1. What policy instruments were deployed to contain the Great Economic Depression?




  1. The New Economic Policy – 1921 of Lenin had influenced the policies adopted by India soon after independence. Evaluate.


Sub Topic: 9 - World War- II

  • Foundations of the war

  • Course of the war

  • Aftermath of war

  • Analysis of the war

  • Decolonization phase


Previous year questions:




1.To what extent can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically




1. The anti-colonial struggles in West Africa were led by the new elite of Western educated Africans. Examine.




1. What problems were germane to the decolonization process in the Malay Peninsula?


2. “Africa was chopped into States artificially created by accidents of European competition.” Analyze.


Sub Topic : 10 - Development In Middle East

  • Democratic reforms in Middle East

  • Arab nationalism

  • Israel


Sub Topic : 11 -  Cold War " Reasons

  • Development of Cold War (1945-1953)

  • To what extent was there a there thaw after 1953?

  • Nuclear Arms Race and the Cuban Missile crisis (1962)


Previous year questions:



1. What were the events that led to the Suez Crisis in 1956? How did it deal a final blow to Britain’s self-image as a world power?


Sub Topic : 12 - Post Cold-War World

  • Global issues since 1991

  • Integration of Europe

  • European integration- a timeline

  • Rise of global Islamic terrorism

  • Rise of China


Previous year questions:


Sub Topic : 13 - Communism, Socialism and Capitalism

  • Capitalism (concept, types and example)

  • Communism (concept, types, example)

  • Relevance of capitalism in present era

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