How to prepare Modern Indian History for IAS
Dealing with Modern History
Before starting your preparation for General Studies, aspirants are advised to review the syllabus for the same.
Official Syllabus for the Prelims
- History of India and Indian National Movements
Official Syllabus for Mains
- Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
- Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
- The Freedom Struggle - its various stages and important key contributions and people from India.
- Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
- History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawl of national boundaries, colonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc and their forms and effect on the society.
After reviewing the syllabi, we can divide it into four part:
- Modern Indian History (will common for both Prelims and Mains)
- Before Freedom
- After Freedom
- Medieval Indian History (Thing are common to read)
- Ancient Indian History (Thing are common to read)
- World History (Only in Mains)
What type of questions asked in Modern Indian History?
- Chronology based, related to freedom movement
- Key personalities of freedom movement and related stuff like organisations they had set-up, positions of importance
- Key movements (NC, CDM etc.)
- Reforms and step taken by British Governance etc.
- Contribution of different sections of society (women, tribal, middle class, etc) and key individuals (Gandhi, Nehru, Abul Kalam etc.) particularly those who have 50th or 100th etc birth/death anniversary.
- Nature of movement and participation
- Analysis of events considering national and global historical context
- National building after independence - Political, Social, Economic, Technological and Foreign Relations (panchsheel principles, nehruvian foreign policy etc.)
To Decode: Practice last three year Prelims papers and five years GS papers (related to History).
Sources to Prepare Ancient Indian History
- History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra (Not India's Freedom Struggle) or you can refer to 'Modern India' by Sumit Sarkar suggested by many other toppers.
- Spectrum's 'Modern India'
- NCERT (not necessary)
After Independence (For Mains)
- India after Independence by Bipin Chandra
- India after Gandhi by Ram Chandra Guha
- Online practice quizzes (General Knowledge Today or any other good source) and past year questions.
How to read and comparison?
From the recommended books point of view: Modern India is better for Mains rather than 'India Freedom Struggle' so it is better to read that from beginning. Spectrum vs Bipin Chandra - Spectrum is excellent for revision before exam, and Bipin Chandra is good to develop historical analysis aptitude and Mains type answers. So, we suggest to read both but use Spectrum for revision. '
- First read Bipin Chandra / Sumit Sarkar and then revise by reading Spectrum.
- Pay efforts to make notes from Bipin Chandra for last minute revision.
How to Remember Chronology?
Don't focus on each event's year, remember key landmark events' year to figure out year of related events. Focus on events' connection (succeeding and proceeding) and connect the dots (implications). For example - Gandhi came > Champaren > Khilafat Movement > Non-cooperation Movement > Visit by Prince of Wales > Chauri Chaura ...
See, if you can read Spectrum and Bipin Chandra then we don't think you need to read NCERT. In case old NCERT book is better than new one in terms of content. Now Tamilnadu Board's history book is also good and gives adequate weightage to South India (in terns of personalities who contributed to Freedom Struggle).
What and how to read about Post-independence History?
We should say from exam point of view 'India Since Independence' by Bipin Chandra is good but it is highly biased so always check alternate perspectives but Guha is more objective and neutral. It covers most relevant topics - read from Chapters 7 to Chapter 24 (Consolidation to the Punjab Crisis). Initial parts are covered in History of Polity and later parts (Economy, Land reforms etc) can be covered from NCERT 'Indian Economy' book.
To check you have covered all relevant topics, find the check list from History optional syllabus:
13. Consolidation as a Nation; Nehru's Foreign Policy; India and her neighbours (1947-1964); The Linguistic reorganization of States (1935-1947); Regionalism and regional inequality; Integration of Princely States; Princes in electoral politics; the Question of National Language.
14. Caste and Ethnicity after 1947; Backward caste and tribes in post-colonial electoral politics; Dalit movements.
15. Economic development and political change; Land reforms; the politics of planning and rural reconstruction; Ecology and environmental policy in post - colonial India; Progress of science.
Tips: Remember your understanding and views and don't just go by author's view.
In recent years some questions have asked to
Contribution of North East in freedom struggle (persons and places related to it)
Contribution of women in freedom struggle
Tribal movement and personalities related to freedom struggle
Specially give attention to some anniversary or occasion related to above like Postal Stamp issued / Award constituted / celebration of 100 years of that etc.