Detailed Strategy for History Optional- Paper II [By Chitra Mishra, Rank 20, CSE-2018, Marks in History- 300]

Detailed Strategy for History Optional- Paper II [By Chitra Mishra, Rank 20, CSE- 2018]

Name: Chitra Mishra

Rank: 20 [CSE- 2018]

IMG-20190503-WA0049 (1) (2)

Chitra Mishra1

Detailed Strategy

History optional strategy requires a renewed analysis, delineating the topics, previous year paper analysis, and detailed strategy;

  • History optional has acquired a fossil-like significance and format post 2013-14. This is due to the fact students who zero down on taking up history as optional has very limited and specific institutes.

One being Insight IAS Academy under Baliyan Sir at Karol Bagh and The Study by Manikant Singh Sir, for Hindi Medium at Mukherjee Nagar- remains two major go-to-site for any beginner in the initial phase. Both these institutes are relevant and exam-oriented, to a large extent. However, simple enrollment to these would be partial and insufficient and one-dimensional, if one aims to score 300 +.

  • Study material for this optional is very extensive, scattered, diverse. In other words, it is far from being to-the-point, concise and organized to handle those crucial 500 marks effectively. While one standard option is to read exclusively the class notes given by these institutes, other option is clearly the more challenging one- to plan, prepare and review your strategy as per the changes in UPSC optional paper requirements;
  • Nonetheless, the relevance and importance of this optional is further enhanced due to its components in General Studies -1 and Prelims.

There are two specific purpose of writing this particular post.

During my course of preparation, there was a lot of resource material at hand and readings across, study material. As an enthusiastic aspirant, you tend to quickly hoard material- of all the possible, probable, potential books from the list of books.

In the first part of my post, I try to substantiate the co-relation between books and topic in the History syllabus.

Secondly, the purpose also would be to analyze if the sub-sections have been asked in last 5 years (2014-18) and if so, can the material, notes and ideas help us to tackle those?

The central idea behind this post is to also analyse the themes/topics on the basis of last few years of question paper pattern of UPSC. This would act as ready reckoner for future History optional aspirants.

This section will be useful for those of you interested in the preparation strategy of General Studies Paper 1 as well as importantly for Paper II in History Optional for 250 marks. I scored 169/250 in this paper CSE – 2018. In this post, I wish to analyse the syllabus- reading list and include my handwritten and word notes which was instrumental in scoring higher in Paper 2.

Few general points:

  1. The idea is not to let yourself get lost in multiple sources, resource material, reference books.
  2. Our main guide to this section & the central basis must be the topics clearly articulated in the syllabus.
  3. Utmost care should be taken that – while one has clear, understanding on the factual content, equal emphasis should also be to link, analyse the topics in logical manner with continuities.
  4. Flowcharts, Maps can be extremely instrumental to handle 10-mark questions.
  5. Statement based questions can be prepared to a large extent by following UPSC last 25 years question papers. Do have a copy of previous year papers.

Modern India – Part A

How to approach Modern Indian History:

This is perhaps the most important segment in the History optional preparation

  • Prelims section (usually 12-15 questions)
  • GS -1 (4-5 questions)
  • 125 marks of Part A of Paper II of History Optional;

Books Referred for Modern Indian History Segment:

Assuming such a crucial significance of the Modern Indian section, one must be very clear about the sources. During the course of my preparation, I made summary notes and here, attached the pdf of the chapters of two most important books suggested for history optional aspirants-

One segment in this book, enables you to understand the narrative of Governor Generals

  • Chapter 7– Clive’s Second Governorship of Bengal, 1765-1767;
  • Chapter 8, Warren Hastings;
  • Chapter 9, Cornwallis;
  • Chapter 10, Lord Wellesley;
  • Chapter 12, Lord Hastings;
  • Chapter 14, Lord Bentinck;
  • Chapter 18, Dalhousie;
  • Chapter 24, Lytton and Ripon;
  • Chapter 25, Lord Curzon;

Second segment in specific is about:

  • Chapter 4– Anglo-French Rivalry in the Carnatic and Chapter 6– Career and Achievements of Dupleix;
  • Chapter 2 and 3– Marathas – Achievements of the Early Peshwas and Marathas Administration under the Peshwas and
  • Chapter 13– Anglo-Maratha Struggle for Supremacy;
  • Chapter 11– Anglo-Mysore,
  • Chapter 15– Sind;
  • Chapter 16 & 17– Anglo-Sikh;
  • Chapter 26– Anglo-Afghan &
  • Chapter 27– North-West Frontier;

Third segment which can be selectively referred are

  • Chapter 21– Tribal revolts, Civil Rebellions, popular Movements and Mutinies, 1757-1856 &
  • Chapter 37– Peasant Revolts and Agrarian Movements
  • For a selected 10-mark question on Famine policy, Chapter 38 – The development of famine policy;

Finally, the reason this book would be useful is its introductory statement-based facts, right at the beginning of each chapter. Some of them are asked in previous year CSE exam. For example, Chapter 15 Annexation of Sind, Page 132 (Statement of Sir Charles Napier);

Topic Analysis and Strategy:


European Penetration into India
(i) The Early European Settlements; The Portuguese and the Dutch;
(ii) The English and the French East India Companies; Their struggle for supremacy; Carnatic Wars;
(iii) Bengal -The conflict between the English and the Nawabs of Bengal; Siraj and the English; The Battle of Plassey; Significance of Plassey.

Previous year questions:

2018 – “The Battle of Plassey (1757) thus marked beginning of political supremacy of the English East India Company in India.”

2016 – After the Battle of Plassey, how did India transit from the medieval to the modern age?

The battle of Plassey was “not a great battle but a great betrayal.” Comment.

Key analysis:

It is extremely important to understand the narrative of conquest and consolidation of European Powers. 18th century was an era of continuity and change, as C.A Bayly says – a long century from 1707-1820’s – one must locate the century in two major parts:

  1. Death of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb(1707) to 1757, eventual decline of mighty Mughals and rise of autonomous regional powers – Bengal, Awadh, Hyderabad, Marathas, Jats.
  2. Phase of emergence of British Power 1757onwards (Battle of Plassey, Battle of Buxar, Dual Government in Bengal, Phase of Lord Warren Hasting, Cornwallis, Wellesley.)

Also understand, in ways internal rivalries played out between Nizam, Marathas, Arcot; also, the differences between rent-seeking Maratha and Mughal States as against the mighty British – army based, modernised state, their system of land revenue- changes and continuities, alongside the role and strategic contribution of successive Governor-Generals.

The second topic is a continuation in many ways from a political perspective. All the ramifications, political battles, rivalries and contestations of Anglo-French, Anglo-Mysore, Anglo-Marathas were for establishing supremacy, acquiring territories, access control over revenue, capture fertile Bengal as well as later the southern territories. By 1820’s British acquired and was in control of large parts of subcontinent;

Hence the 2nd sub-topic should be dealt as a logical extension and expansion of first sub-topic.


British Expansion in India
(i) Bengal – Mir Jafar and Mir Kasim; The Battle of Buxar;
(ii) Mysore;
(iii) The Marathas; The three Anglo-Maratha Wars;
(iv) The Punjab.
(v) Other expansions

Previous Year Question:

Underline the major consideration of the British imperial power that led to the annexation of Punjab.  2017

“The Maratha polity disintegrated through internal stress.” 2017

Comment on the French ambition of building a territorial empire in India. 2016

“Annexation of Punjab was part of a broad north-west frontier policy set in motion after the exit of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.” Critically examine, 2015

“The verdict of Plessey was confirmed by the English victory at Buxar.” Comment.

“Upon the whole, then, I conclude that the treaty of Bassein was wise, just and a politic measure.” Comment.

“The Treaty of Salbai (1782) was neither honorable to the English nor advantageous to their interests.” Comment.

“We have no right to seize Sind, yet we shall do so, and a very advantageous, useful and human piece of rascality it will be.” Comment. (Sir Charles Napier)

“The British conquest of Sind was both a political and moral sequel to the first Afghan war.” Comment.


One of the most important requirements is to be extremely clear about the flowchart of narrative, sequence and order of events from historical point of view.

One of the best source for this sub-topic is Grover’s chapter mentioned in the introduction for narrative as well as first chapter of Plassey to Partition (attached);


Early Structure of the British Raj

(i) The early administrative structure; From diarchy to direct control;
(ii) The Regulating Act (1773);
(iii) The Pitt’s India Act (1784);
(iv) The Charter Act (1833);
(v) The voice of free trade and the changing character of British colonial rule;

Analysis: This section is covered extremely well in Shekhar Bandhopadhyay’s Plassey to Partition- Chapter 2- British Empire in India (attached)

This is a segment which is ideological in thematic understanding. Narrative no longer remains as significant as the first two themes.

What becomes extremely significant is to understand the transitions of administrations,

  • Shifts from Mughal administration to Post Plassey and Post Buxar EIC form of administration
  • Dual Government to Direct control through 1773 Regulating and 1784 Pitts India Act
  • 1793, 1813, 1833 and 1853 Charter acts must be read in a sequence;
  • Also, the major differences between intent of company rule and that of crown after 1858.

Previous Year Questions:

How far is it correct to say that if Clive was the founder of the British Empire in India, Warren Hastings was its administrative organiser? 2016

“The need to impose greater parliamentary control over the Company’s affairs increased during the decades (1773 – 1853) after Plassey.” Elucidate. 2016

“The Regulating Act (1773), the Pitt’s India Act (1784) and eventually the Charter Act of 1833 left the East India Company as a mere shadow of its earlier political and economic power in India.” Critically examine. 2015


The English utilitarian and India.

In this section, very importantly, understand the ideological basis of Raj, the Anglicist Vs Oriental debate, the basis of legitimacy of expanding colonial rule, the emergence of Macaulay’s minutes of Education-1835, subsequently 1854 Wood’s Despatch;

The best source is Plassey to Partition 2nd Chapter (attached);

“Peace hath her victories no less renowned than war.” Examine this statement with reference to Lord William Bentinck 2016

“James Mill, the apostle of utilitarian philosophy, proposed a revolution off Indian society through the ‘weapon of law’ solely. But in actual policy framing, other influences and considerations weighed much more than the colonial State.” Elucidate. 2015


Economic Impact of British Colonial Rule

This is a segment which is slightly technical in nature and hence can be further simplified if one were to know make a clear lucid, brief and basic note in form of a flowchart, with distinction between Permanent Settlement, Ryotwari, Mahalwari, region wise basis, impact assessment and overview;

(i) Land revenue settlements in British India; The Permanent Settlement; Ryotwari Settlement; Mahalwari Settlement; Economic impact of the revenue arrangements;

“The Permanent settlement was a bold, brave and wise measures.” Comment.

Trace the circumstances that led to the introduction of the Permanent Settlement in Bengal. Discuss its impact on landlords, peasants and the Government.

Examine the major factors shaping the British land-revenue policy in India. How it affected Indian society?

(ii) Commercialization of agriculture; Rise of landless agrarian labourers; Impoverishment of the rural society.

“The passing of the land from the hands of the peasant proprietors into the hands of non-cultivating landlords brought about increasing polarization of classes in agrarian areas.” 2018

(iii) Dislocation of traditional trade and commerce; Deindustrialisation; Decline of traditional crafts;

“Under the forceful thrust of British colonialism, Indian economy was transformed into a colonial one, the structure of which was determined by the requirements of Britain’s fast developing industrial economy.” Examine. 2015

 (iv) Drain of wealth;
(v) Economic transformation of India; Railroad and communication network including telegraph and postal services;
(vi) Famine and poverty in the rural interior;
(vii) European business enterprise and its limitations;

This sub-section requires further reading of

  • Bipan Chandra’s book India’s Struggle for Independence, Chapter  AN ECONOMIC CRITIQUE OF COLONIALISM 
  • S Bandhopadhyay’s Chapter 3 Extracting land revenue and 2.5 Empire and economy
  • For famine related segment, read B. L Grover’s Chapter 38 – The development of famine policy;

It begins as a good starting point to understand the economic critique of Nationalism. How early moderates laid the basis of critique against the colonial rule, their ideals of white man’s burden, their justification of God, Gold and Glory.

Here the rationale of laying down transport and communication channel had contradictions of profits mindedness, colonial compulsions and drain of wealth motives on one hand, at world level, the transformation from industrial capitalism phase to finance capitalism phase must all be understood alongside the economic transition in the metropolis which is England, its phase of industrial revolution, its search for raw material, market, and the phase of 1870’s to the period culminating to the World War I in 1914.

Previous Year Questions:

“The British railway construction policy in India benefitted British economy in the nineteenth century.” 2017

Explain the factors responsible for the recurrent of famines in the nineteenth century. What remedial measures were adopted by the British Indian Government? 2017

Critically examine the causes responsible for the phenomenon called de-industrialisation’ in India during the nineteenth century. 2016

“Our system acts very much like a sponge, drawing up all the good things from the banks of the Ganges, and squeezing them down on the banks of the Thames.” Comment.

Write a critique on the impact of the Drain Theory of Dadabhai Nauroji in the growth of economic nationalism.

In general, in this section, the central emphasis is clarity of British intent, administrative methods, impact on subjects, rise of intermediaries and overall impoverishment of colonial economy and its linkages with the colonial policy;

The next two sub-section is one of the most crucial topics and hence must be read from varied sources for nuanced understanding. I have attached my compiled notes of Shekhar Bandhopadhyay’s Plassey to Partition chapterBipan Chandra’s Chapter and IGNOU’s summary analysis


Social and Cultural Developments
(i) The state of indigenous education, its dislocation;
(ii) Orientalist-Anglicist controversy, The introduction of western education in India;
(iii) The rise of press, literature and public opinion; The rise of modern vernacular
literature; Progress of science;
(iv) Christian missionary activities in India.

This segment must be nuanced, layered, stratified, evolutionary and be understood to link it before we begin the topic of Nationalism and emergence of Congress.We begin with William Bentinck, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Brahma Samaj, Split, Arya Samaj, Prarthana Samaj, Reform Vs Revival Movement, Regions of Bengal, Western India, Punjab.

Previous paper analysis:

“Faced with the challenge of the intrusion of colonial culture and ideology an attempt to reinvigorate traditional institutions and to realize the potential of traditional culture developed during the nineteenth century.”  2018

“An ideology of paternalistic benevolence, occasionally combined with talk of trusteeship and training towards self-government, thinly veiled the realities of a Raj uncompromisingly white and despotic.” 2018

What was the significance of Orientalist-Anglicist controversy in nineteenth century India? Analyse. 2018

Assess the role of press in arousing awareness on important social issues in the second half of the nineteenth century. 2017

Do you agree with the view that the growth of vernacular literature in the 19th and the 20th centuries paved the way for social reform and cultural revival in India? 2016

“The current practice of categorization of ‘Early Modern India’ is based on a shift from the old imperialist periodization of ‘Muslim India’ – ‘British India’ to the more secularist one of ‘Medieval India’ – ‘Modern India’, which puts Indian history in a universalist chronological Structure.” Critically evaluate. 2012


Social and Religious Reform movements in Bengal and Other Areas
(i) Ram Mohan Roy, The Brahmo Movement; Devendranath Tagore;
(ii) Iswarchandra Vidyasagar;
(iii) The Young Bengal Movement;
(iv) Dayanada Saraswati;
(v) The social reform movements in India including Sati, widow remarriage, child marriage etc.;
(vi) The contribution of Indian renaissance to the growth of modern India;
(vii) Islamic revivalism – the Faraizi and Wahabi Movements.

Also see, Bipan Chandra’s India’s struggle for Independence Chapter 8. THE FIGHT TO SECURE PRESS FREEDOM

“The chief value of Raja’s (Raja Rammohun Roy) labours seems to lie in his fight against the forces of medievalism in India.” 2017

 “The Arya Samaj may quite logically be pronounced as the outcome of conditions imported onto from the West.” 2017 & 2009

“Sri Narayan Guru’s was a major intervention in the social reform movement from a subaltern perspective.” 2017

“Swami Dayanand’s philosophy represents both elements of extremism and social radicalism.” Substantiate. 2015


Indian Response to British Rule

This section exclusively deals with the key word – ‘responses’-

Response of various sections of native Indian subject population towards/against the intermediate class as well as Colonial States at varied levels- tribals to moneylenders, outsiders/dikus as well as missionaries; Peasants against zamindars as well as colonial state; sepoys against State, – hence it was a cumulative resistance, revolt and rebellion against Zamindars, Sahukars, Mahajans and Sarkar;

(i) Peasant movements and tribal uprisings in the 18th and 19th centuries including

  • the Rangpur Dhing (1783),
  • the Kol Rebellion (1832),
  • the Mopla Rebellion in Malabar (1841 -1920),
  • the Santal Hul (1855),
  • Indigo Rebellion (1859-60),
  • Deccan Uprising (1875) and
  • the Munda Ulgulan (1899-1900);

Was the Moplah Rebellion in Malabar an expression of anti-landlord and anti-foreign discontent? Discuss. 2018, 1986 and 1990

How far is it correct to say that the 19th century tribal uprisings are a part of subaltern nationalism? 2016

“The Santhal hool began in July 1855. The core of the movement was economic, the basic cause of the uprising was agrarian discontent.” – Elucidate 2012

Tribals revolted more often and far more violently than any other community including
peasants in India.” Elaborate 2011

(ii) The Great Revolt of 1857 – Origin, character, causes of failure, the consequences;

Surprisingly enough, this segment has not been frequently asked, making it seemingly less important. One should, however, not underestimate its importance;

 “The Mutiny of 1857 was much more than a Mutiny of Sepoys and much less than a National Rebellion.” Comment. 2016


  • Shekhar Bandhopadhyay 3.3 The revolt of 1857 (attached)
  • First chapter of Bipan Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence 1857-1947 

(iii) The shift in the character of peasant uprisings in the post-1857 period;

“The Indigo Revolt of 1859-60 holds a very significant place in our history of national liberation movement. For the first time in the history of our anti-colonial struggle, its two independent currents– spontaneous peasant resistance and constitutional agitation in defence of peasantry – came into mutual contact.” Critically examine. 2015

 “The peasant movements of the second half of the nineteenth century lacked a positive conception which would unite the people in a common struggle on a wide regional and all India plane and help develop long-term political developments.” Critically evaluate. 2012

Summary (attached) of Chapters 2 and 3 – Bipan Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence 


The peasant movements of the 1920s and 1930s.

Discuss the nature of peasant movements under the Kisan Sabhas during 1920-1940 (2017 & 1980)


Part II

If one were to analyse the second half of Modern India syllabus, there are questions being framed from sections from specific areas especially Section 13,14 and 15 in the last 3 years.

Generally, the entire emphasis is to read Indian National Movement and the popular Gandhian Nationalism phase which rightly constitute 80% of this area. But careful analysis of this segment points us towards following topics:

  • Moderates and Extremists
  • Swadeshi Movement
  • Rowlatt Satyagraha
  • Quit India Movement
  • Royal Indian Navy Mutiny
  • Rise of the Left
  • GOI 1935 Act

Second Segment has focus on Post -Independent Indian consolidationaspects such as

  • Linguistic State reorganisation of Indian Union
  • Integration of Princely States
  • Dalit Movements
  • Land Reforms
  • Environmental Movements
  • Science and Technology


  1. Early Indian Nationalism

(i) Factors leading to the birth of Indian Nationalism; Politics of Association; The Foundation of the Indian National Congress; The Safety-valve thesis relating to the birth of the Congress;
(ii) Programme and objectives of Early Congress; the social composition of early Congress leadership; the Moderates and Extremists;
(iii) The Partition of Bengal (1905); The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal; the economic and political aspects of Swadeshi Movement;
(iv) The beginning of revolutionary extremism in India.

Previous Year Questions:

Can methods and policies of the moderates be referred to as “political mendicancy”?  2018

Explain “Constructive Swadeshi” characterised by atmashakti (self-reliance), which propelled the Swadeshi Movement in Bengal. 2016

Source- Bipan Chandra India’s Struggle for Independence- Chapter 10. THE SWADESHI MOVEMENT— 1903-08

“The very idea of the bomb and the secret society, and of propaganda through action and sacrifice were import from the West.” Critically examine. 2015


Bipan Chandra- India’s Struggle for Independence


Shekhar Bandhopadhyay’s 4.4 Foundation of the Indian National Congress


  1. Nationalism under Gandhi’s leadership

(i) Rise of Gandhi; Character of Gandhian nationalism; Gandhi’s popular appeal;

(ii) Rowlatt Satyagraha; the Khilafat Movement; the Non-cooperation Movement; National politics from the end of the Non-cooperation movement to the beginning of the Civil Disobedience movement; the two phases of the Civil Disobedience Movement; Simon Commission; The Nehru Report; the Round Table Conferences;

(iii) Nationalism and the Peasant Movements; Nationalism and Working-class movements; Women and Indian youth and students in Indian politics (1885-1947);

This particular sub-section must be dealt from

Part 1: Bipan Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence 1857-1947 – (summary attached) 


Shekhar Bandhopadhyay’s Many Voices of a Nation (Summary attached) 

  • 4 Working class movements
  • 5 Women’s participation

Previous Paper Analysis: 

Could Dyarchy 1919 satisfy the national sentiments of the Indians? 2018

Do you consider the suspension of Non-Cooperation Movement a “national calamity.”? 2018

Discuss how the Satyagrahas of Gandhi removed the spell of fear among Indians and thus knocked off an important pillar of imperialism.  2017

What significant role did women play in the Indian National Movement? 2016

 “This retention of Rowlatt legislation in the teeth of universal opposition is an affront to the nation. Its repeal is necessary to appease national honour.” Critically examine. 2015

(iv) The election of 1937 and the formation of ministries; Cripps Mission; the Quit India Movement; the Wavell Plan; The Cabinet Mission.

This sub topic again is the final decades of the Raj. We must clearly enjoy and understand the specific events, twists and turns, the INC-League tussle, British interventions, the big episodes like 1937 election outcomes, Bose drift from INC, formation of INA, Lahore Session of 1940, Cripps Mission, its outcome; Quit India Movement and the long term impact; Wavell Plan; Liaqat-Desai Pact; Rajagopalachari Formula; Cabinet Mission Plan; Direct Action day; Interim government phase and also Mountbatten Plan; Finally Transfer of Power as well as the Partition and its aftermath;


Explain why the efforts at finding solution to India’s constitutional impasse failed during 1942-1946.  2018

Bipan Chandra’s India Struggle for Independence- Chapter 36. POST-WAR NATIONAL UPSURGE

 “To characterize the Quit India Movement as ‘Spontaneous Revolution’ would be partial interpretation, so also would be to look up at it as the culmination of Gandhian Satyagraha movements.” Elucidate. 2015

“The Royal Indian Navy Revolt was seen as an event which marked the end of the British rule almost as finally as Independence Day.” Explain. 2015


  1. Constitutional Developments in the Colonial India between 1858 and 1935

Although the Government of India Act of 1935 replaced diarchy with Provincial, the overriding powers of the Governor diluted the spirit of autonomy.” Elucidate. 2015

Bipan Chandra, India’s Struggle to Independence Chapter 9- PROPAGANDA IN THE LEGISLATURES


  1. Other strands in the National Movement
    (i) The Revolutionaries: Bengal, the Punjab, Maharashtra, U.P, the Madras Presidency, Outside India.
    (ii) The Left; The Left within the Congress: Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, the Congress Socialist Party; the Communist Party of India, other left parties.
    (iii) Other aspects


This section becomes crucial for conceptual understanding of Indian National Movement in general;

  • Militant Nationalist phase (earlier termed revolutionary terrorism)
  • Phase of 1890’s onwards- region specific trends (as mentioned in syllabus)
  • Influence of Russian Revolution of 1905 and 1917
  • Emergence of Left within Indian National Congress
  • Internal ideological split of Congress, Formation of Congress Socialist Party in 1934;
  • Haripura, 1938 and Tripuri, 1939 Congress Session, Bose-Pattabhi Sitaramayya, with Gandhi as negotiator;

Underline the growth of various forms of Socialist ideologies in the Indian National Movement between World Wars I and II. 2018

 Trace the origin of the Ghadar movement and discuss its impact on the revolutionaries in India.  2017

Bipan Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence Chapter 12. WORLD WAR I AND INDIAN NATIONALISM: THE GHADAR(attached)

A powerful left-wing group developed in India in the late 1920s and 1930s, contributing to the radicalization of national movement.” Critically Examine. 2015


Part 1- Bipan Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence



  1. Politics of Separatism and Independence
    (i) The Muslim League; the Hindu Mahasabha; Communalism and the politics of partition;
    (ii) Transfer of power; Independence.

Critically examine the turns and twists in the politics of partition in 1930’’s and 1940’’s. 2018

Question was asked in CSE 2018.

This topic is dealt in Shekhar Bandhopadhyay’s book in following chapters- summary attached:

  • Muslim politics and the foundation of the Muslim League
  • The turbulent forties
  • Towards freedom with partition

Also, Bipan Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence– following chapters



  1. Consolidation as a Nation
    (i) Nehru’s Foreign Policy; India and her neighbours (1947-1964);
    (ii) The linguistic reorganisation of States (1935-1947); Regionalism and regional
    inequality; Integration of Princely States; Princes in electoral politics; the Question of National Language

Previous Year Questions:

“States‟ reorganization did not, of course, resolve all the problems relating to linguistic conflicts.” 2018

Throw light on the nature of ‘Instrument of Accession’ and ‘Standstill Agreement’ signed by the Princely States with the Indian Union.  2017

“India’s need for a federal system was more an imperative than a political choice.” Do you agree? 2016

Source: Bipan Chandra- India Since Independence

  1. Consolidation of India as a Nation (I)
  2. Consolidation of India as a Nation(II): The Linguistic Reorganization of the States
  3. Consolidation of India as a Nation(III): Integration of the Tribals
  4. Consolidation of India as a Nation(IV): Regionalism and Regional Inequality
  5. Foreign Policy: The Nehru Era


(i) Backward castes and tribes in post-colonial electoral politics;
(ii) Dalit movements.

Analyse various trends in Dalit Movements in various parts of post independent India. 2018

How did Dr. B.R. Ambedkar try to seek a political solution to the problem of caste in India? 2016

Bipan Chandra’s India Since Independence –

  • Caste and Ethnicity after 1947
  • Caste, Untouchability, Anti-caste Politics and Strategies


  1. Economic development and political change
    (i) Land reforms; the politics of planning and rural reconstruction;
    (ii) Ecology and environmental policy in post – colonial India;
    (iii) Progress of science.

This particular sub-topic has been a segment asked in the last consecutive three years, marking its relevance and significance.

  • Ecology and Environmental policy in specific has been dealt in parts in Class XII NCERT Political Science book- Politics in India since Independence.
  • In specific Chipko Movement in Uttarakhand; Appiko Movement in Karnataka; Save Silent Valley Movement in Kerala; Jungle Bachao Andolan, Bihar; Narmada Bachao Andolan, Gujarat;

Land Reforms topic has been extensively dealt in Bipan Chandra’s India Since Independence chapters mentioned below.

  1. Land Reforms (I): Colonial Impact and the Legacy of the National and Peasant Movements
  2. Land Reforms(II): Zamindari Abolition and Tenancy Reforms
  3. Land Reforms (III): Ceiling and the Bhoodan Movement
  4. Cooperatives and an Overview of Land Reforms

Segment on Science and Technology in Chapter 11. The Years of Hope and Achievement, 1951–1964 (Bipan Chandra’s India Since Independence) 

Previous Year Questions:

Trace the development of land reforms in India between 1947 and early 1960‟s. ​​​​​​2018

How far the developments science and technology in post-independence period put India on the path of modernity? 2017

Critically examine the nature and scope of environmental movements in Independent India. 2016

“The Chipko became famous as the first major environmental movement in post-colonial India and gave to the understanding that environment issues are often women’s issues because they suffer most from its deterioration.” – Explain. 2012

Additionally, general reading for a broad over view:

Bipan Chandra- India’s Struggle for Independence – (summary attached)


Also, Bipan Chandra- India Since Independence

  1. The Colonial Legacy
  2. The National Movement and its Legacy

Modern India Section, thus becomes one of the most crucial sections in History Optional Paper. Sources can take us to a certain point, and so can previous year paper analysis, pattern and trends. What then becomes the most crucial factor is conceptual understanding to link- connect- structure – effectively present during the exam.

Part B- World History

General Sources:

  1. IGNOU B.A selected chapters. In addition, I have attached few theoretical chapters from M.A (on Imperialism, Colonialism, Total War). The latter is however optional for reading.
  2. Norman Lowe – Selected chapters for second half of syllabus; This is good source for 1900-1991 and beyond.
  3. A Study of Modern Europe and the World 1815-1950by Mukherjee. This is meant to be read and not made notes. It is like a good revision for narrative; This book should be read for chapters like
  • Part 1- Congress of Vienna1815, Eastern Question (Part I- Chapter III, V,X, Part II, chapter IV),
  • Part II, chapter VIII – United Nations Organisationand
  • Part III section for Middle Egypt, Arab Nationalism, China, Japan, South-East Asiaand finally, for USA section, chapter V entirely).  Link of the book;
  1. Arjun Dev’s- Contemporary World History- Old NCERT Class XII book. Again, this book is only meant for basic reading for later half of syllabus.
  2. Wikipediafor factual clarity. I prepared sections of Locarno Pact, Inter-war treaties from here too.

In the following sections, I have tried highlighting key topics which should be the focus while preparing, with link to my notes and specific chapters from the books mentioned.

Themes – Previous year paper – Sources


Theme 1: Enlightenment and Modern ideas: 

  • Major ideas of Enlightenment: Kant, Rousseau;
  • Spread of Enlightenment in the colonies;

Previous year questions (2015-18) from this section are as follows:

  • Kant‘s redefinition of reason and his rehabilitation of conscience marked a high point in the intellectual reaction against dominant rationalism of the enlightenment.” 2017
  • Explain the major ideas of Enlightenment. Discuss the contribution of Rousseauin Enlightenment. ​​​​​​ 2018


This is the first topic in the syllabus of World History. IGNOU has specific section on this topic, which I made notes in word document. Please find attached –


If we analyse trend, do have a separate sheet of micro-notes on Kant and Rousseau;

Theme 2:

  • Rise of socialist ideas (up to Marx);
  • Spread of Marxian Socialism

Previous Year Questions:

  • “France was more fertile than Britain in producing new Socialist theories and movements, though they bore less concrete results in France than in Britain.” Critically examine. 2015
  • Karl Marxapplied his critical intelligence to Wealth of Nations … Where Smith had seen only the sunlight, Marx saw only the shadows thrown upon the human scene by the unimpeded exercise of individual liberty …” Elucidate. 2016
  • With the writings of Karl Marx, Socialism assumed the form of Scientific Socialism.” 2018


In this section, please ensure there is conceptual clarity on key terms- Socialism, Marxism, Capitalism, Communism. Also, internally difference between Fabian Socialism and Scientific Socialism. A good suggestion would be to have a 2 line each key difference between either of it; Secondly, make an assessment of the statement-based questions being asked in UPSC for compulsory 10 marker. For example, look at 2016 question in this section.

Please find the attached sub-link of this section:

Notes: On Socialism

Theme -3 – Origins of Modern Politics: 

This section needs thematic understanding of post 1789- French Revolution, Napoleonic decline (1815) and understand the cartographic shifts, reorganisation of European states till the phase of German and Italian Unification.

Some of the key focus areas are

  1. Congress of Vienna 1815.
  2. 1830 and 1848 revolt.
  3. Essentially, locating rise of Socialism as a phenomenon from 1830’s. England meanwhile witnessed- Chartists Movement;

European States System;

What is Metternich system? Assess its impact on Europe. 2016

Discuss how agrarian crisis accompanied by severe industrial depression triggered the Revolution of 1848.  2017

Source: Origin of Modern States in Europe

Drifting from the sequence of UPSC syllabus, the following theme should be done immediately after the above topic. This is because, when read in a sequence, it enables us to understand Europe (1830’s to 1870’s and after). This topic acts as a precursor to the theme of Industrial Revolution, Imperialism and Colonialism and the leading up to the World War I.

Theme 4 – Nation-State System: Rise of Nationalism in 19th century;

Nationalism: state-building in Germany and Italy;

  • Mazzini’s conception of Italian nationality was not exclusive and his dominant ideal was the recreation of moral unity of mankind.” Critically examine. 2015
  • “18 January, 1871 had been a day of triumph for the strength and pride Germany and 28 June, 1919 was the day of chastisement.” 2017
  • What determinant factors, along with diplomatic, shaped the process of German Unification2017
  • At the end of the Battle of Sedan (1870), “Europe lost a mistress and gained a master”. 2018. This was also asked in 1995
  • Examine the role of Bismarckin state building in Germany. 2018


On Nation states and Nationalism- Emergence of Nation States & Adjoining notes


I- Italian and German Unification


III-  GU & Role of Bismarck

This topic should ensure following areas to be covered

  1. Factors which led to the conditions and scope for demand for Unification- Italy and Germany
  2. Bismarck and his statecraft, foreign policy is a separate topic; In what ways his role altered the course of events leading to World War I and also trace the linkages to the imperialist rivalries across Europe and beyond.
  3. Similarities and Dissimilarities in the process of unification, what were the factors that were leading to the rise of nationalism in both these European states;
  4. In case of Italian Unification, also ensure Naples-Sicily-Romeare drawn as Map to depict the process of unification; Role of Cavour, Mazzini, Garibaldi should be adequately clear to make answers more specific to the sub-question asked. For example-
  • Trace the course of the movement for Italian Unification from 1848 with special reference to the contribution of Mazzini.
  • “They have stopped me from making Italy by diplomacy from the North; I will make it by revolution from the South.” Comment. (UPSC has asked this question twice)
  1. There is a specific chapter comparing Bonaparte and Bismarck. It is quite interesting;

Theme 5: Revolutions and Counter-Revolutions

In this sub-section, attempt should be to have a clear, concise notes to handle questions of

  • American, French, Chartists, Russian and Chinese Revolution
  • Rise of Totalitarian Regime- Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany

Part – A

  • American Revolution and the Constitution; 
  • American Civil War with reference to Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery;

Previous Year Questions:

  • “The American Revolution was essentially an economic conflict between American capitalism and British mercantilism.” Critically examine. 2012
  • “American Revolution seems to have come with remarkable suddenness. A roster of talented leaders emerged during 1763 to 1775 to make it happen.” Elucidate. 2014
  • “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free.” Explain Abraham Lincoln’s perspective. 2016
  • Explain the main features of the US Federal Constitution. 2016
  • “The American War of Independence transformed Europe as well as America.” 2018

For this section, there should be following approach:

  1. Ensure you enjoy reading the narrative of American Revolution; Linkages with France and Britain;
  2. Ensure to note key milestone events along the course of Revolution- North-South differences, Debates around constitutional basis;
  3. Specifically, have a note on American Civil War of Independence.
  4. Also prepare a few statements based questions from previous year papers especially Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson.
  5. Draw Map depicting 13 major colonies and even East versus West boundaries, wherever the demand of the question;

I am attaching the link which has IGNOU Chapter on American Revolution as well as 64-page handwritten notes in the link below:

American Revolution and Civil War of Independence

II- French revolution and aftermath, 1789- 1815;

Previous year questions:

  • “The Declaration of Rights was the death-warrant of the system of privilege, and so of the ancient regime … Yet in the history of ideas it belonged rather to the past than to the future.” Examine. 2014
  • “The multiple contradictions that quickly undermined the new edifice had been expressed even before the meeting of the Estate General in France. The internal conflict among Estates had manifested itself.” Critically examine. 2015
  • “The Continental Blockade was a misconceived idea of economically defeating Great Britain.” Critically examine. 2015
  • Critically examine the statement that the French Revolution was not caused by the French philosophers but by the conditions of national life and by the mistakes of the government. 2016
  • “The spirit behind the great reforms of Napoleon’s Consulate at home was the transference of the methods of Bonaparte the general to the task of Bonaparte the statesman.” 2017

Analysis: French Revolution is a bulky topic. Mainly due to

  • The successive stages of revolutions, possibility of questions from specific sub-stages of revolution,
  • role of enlightened thinkers,
  • Napoleonic phase, his contribution, followed by his decline;
  • In addition, impact of the revolution across Europe.

Link- French Revolution and Era of Napoleon Bonaparte

III- British Democratic Politics, 1815- 1850; Parliamentary Reformers, Free Traders, Chartists.

  • “Change in Britain came comparatively peacefully through democratic process in the first half of the nineteenth century and a model of a functioning democracy through ballot box was successfully put in place.” Elaborate. 2013
  • “… the passing of the ‘Reform Act’ marked the real beginning of modern party organisation in England … In a real sense, the present political system of England dates from 1832.” Critically examine. 2014
  • “The roots of the Chartist movement in Great Britain were partly political and partly economic.” 2017

Analysis: This topic requires some familiarity with the working of English Parliamentary transitions in the 19th century.

Use Wikipedia for finding any event, keyword, like Reform Act, 1932, Dorothy Thompson, William Lovett, Henry Hetherington

This would enable you to handle statement based-context questions.

I did refer to these in my notes: Britain- Chartist Reforms;

Again, this sub-set of topic can be continued as these are all forms of revolutions across 1789-1949.

Part B: 19th Century European revolutions,

In this case, special focus on 1830 & 1848 Revolution

  • “The whole episode that is known as the July Revolution (1830) was fought and won not for the establishment of an extreme democracy but to get rid of the aristocratic and clericalist attitude of the restored Bourbons.” Critically examine. 2015

The Russian Revolution of 1917- 1921,

  • How did Lenin achieve an abrupt transition from a Monarchical autocratic to a Socialist State? 2016
  • Examine the statement that “the danger of ‘Bolshevism’ dominated not only the history of the years immediately following the Russian Revolution of 1917 but the entire history of the world since that date.” 2017

Russian Revolution

In case of Russian Revolution, the topic should have key focus areas under two sub-parts

Phase-I –Begin from 1861- Emancipation of serf, the 1890’s phase of Industrialisation; Growth of Socialist tendencies – First and Second International; Rise of Lenin, Trotsky; Split of Mensheviks and Bolsheviks; Stolypin Reforms, 1905 Revolution, Decline of Czar; Russia and World War I debate; and finally February and October revolt.

Phase 2 should be covered in form of 1918-21 Phase of War communism; 1921-24 New Economic Reform- here link with our five year plan in 1950’s for UPSC GS 1, 2014 linked it similarly; Rise of Stalin post 1924, Five Year Planning, Industrialisation- collectivisation under Stalin, 1941 Nazi-Soviet Pact and USSR in World War II along with the totalitarian regime under Joseph Stalin till 1953.

Fascist Counter-Revolution, Italy and Germany;

  • Examine the circumstances which led to the overthrow of democracy and the establishment of Fascist dictatorship in Italy. 2017

Some other previous year questions:

  • What were the weaknesses and difficulties of the Weimar Republic? How did Hitler succeed in establishing his dictatorship?
  • How did the policy of appeasement escalate the problem of Nazi aggrandizement?
  • “The roots of the rise of Fascism lay in Peace Treaties.” Comment.
  • “There was an element of system in Hitler’s foreign policy…. .His outlook was continental.” Comment.
  • “Comparison of the fascist regime in Italy with the National Socialist regime of Germanyis almost inevitable. The similarities are obvious, but there is one point of difference which is worth mentioning.” Comment.


Fascism and Nazism

Italian Fascism

German Nazism

Fascism in Japan and Spain

This section is very important as it is the bridge to understand the inter-war years and impact of World War 1 and factors which paved way for World War II


  • Totalitarian Regime, features, context, impact common to Italy, Germany, Russia, Japan, Spain. In this case, analyse similarities and differences;
  • Fascism, Rise of Mussolini, his aggressive foreign policy (Ethiopia/Abyssinia), economic- Corporations, relationship with Church, and decline by 1943.
  • Nazism, Rise of Hitler, 1925-33, role of Weimar Republic, Economic Depression, Poland question; Sudetenland, his foreign policy and racial excesses on Jews and his fall in 1945. In addition, please cover separately – Policy of Appeasement
  • Finally, link it to the course of World order, Europe post 1945, emergence of Britain, France as power, Course of Western and Eastern Europe post WW II.

The Chinese Revolution of 1949

  • “All long marches begin with small steps.” Critically evaluate. 2010
  • “The announcement of the creation of the Peoples’ Republic of China on October 1, 1959 by Mao Zedong ended the civil war between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Nationalist Party (KMT).” – Elaborate. 2012
  • “The failure of Kuomintang against the communist onslaught was unimaginable and it was Mao Tsetung whose tenacity and innovative approach had accomplished the unthinkable.” Discuss. 2015
  • In the Chinese Revolution of 1949, the elements of communism and nationalism were discernible. Explain the statement in the light Mao’s strategy which was different from that of Lenin. 2018

Chinese Revolution

This topic requires the following sub-division and focus areas:

  • Begin with the overthrow of Manchu dynasty and the 1911 Revolution and role of Sun Yat-Sen. His three pronged ideal of Nationalism, Liberalism, Democracy; followed by May 4th, the warlord’s era, 1916-28 and then formation of Kuomintang Party(KMT)- 1911 and Chinese Communist Party (CCP)- 1921.
  • One must also cover the brief background of Opium War, British colonisation- cutting of Chinese Melon, a backgrounder of Boxer and Taiping (through Wikipedia). This section can be read from  Mukherjee’s book (Part III, Chapter 2).
  • Finally the second part must focus on KMT Vs CCP (Chinese Communist Party), alliances against common enemy-Japan and subsequent rivalries (Role of USA and USSR)
  • Focus also on 1931 Manchurian Crisis, Rise of Mao (his ideological shifts from Lenin and USSR to focus on peasants as opposed to the working class, his famous Long March and compare the trajectories of Chiang-Kai- Shek and Mao in specific
  • Finally, the phase of 1945-49, and formation of People’s Republic of China in 1949.

 Theme 6: Industrialization: 

  • English Industrial Revolution: Causes and Impact on Society;
  • Industrialization in other countries: USA, Germany, Russia, Japan;
  • Industrialization and Globalization.

Previous Year Questions:

  • “The oppressive exploitation of the working class in the wake of Industrial Revolution had jolted the social conscience of England.” Elucidate. 2015
  • Explain why England became the harbinger of Industrial Revolution. Also throw light on its social consequences.   2017
  • “Industrial Revolution put mobility in place of stability”. 2018
  • Discuss how Japan Industrialized after the Meiji Restoration, What were the consequences for its neighbours? ​​​​ 2018

Industrial Revolution

This section is very specific and has acquired significance for UPSC has asked questions in the last two consecutive exam.

Some of the key aspects includes

  • Factors favorable for Industrial Revolution (IR) and the difference in the first (1780-1820) and second phase(1870’s) of IR in specific case of Britain
  • Trajectory and Basis of technological development and aggressive expansion of later IR entrants like Germany, Japan and Russia.
  • Linkages of Industrial Revolution and Capitalism, Colonial expansion for search of raw material and markets;

Theme 7 – Colonisation and Decolonisation

Here again, if read in a logical sequence, many internal micro-topics can be dealt in a better manner-

I – Imperialism and Colonialism: 

  • South and South-East Asia;
  • Latin America and South Africa;
  • Australia;
  • Imperialism and free trade: Rise of Neo-imperialism.

Previous Year Questions:

  • “History of Africa appears to be simply an extension or mere sub-theme under the broad headings of European and American history. According to this historiography, Africa seems to be without any history before the European scramble.” Elucidate. 2015
  • Trace the growth of British imperialism in South Africafrom 1800 to 1907. 2016
  • Trace the growth of Arab nationalismafter the First World War. How far was it a reaction to Oil imperialism? 2016
  • Examine the nature of Dutch imperialism in Indonesia.  2017

The first part of this section should focus around understanding three key concepts- Colonialism, Imperialism and Capitalism. It would be desirable if for this section one reads all the three phases – Mercantilism, Industrial and Finance; This inter-connected section of Colonisation is to be linked with the phases of Decolonisation, and done in sub-sets

  • Africa- with emphasis on South Africa
  • South-East Asia- Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia
  • Latin America
  • Middle East – Egypt, Israel.


South Africa

Latin America


II- Disintegration of Empires in the face of the emergence of nationalities across the world.

“Under Mustafa Kemal’s dictatorship; Turkey was rapidly nationalized.” Comment.
“….. the European nations in emphasizing their solidarity, their European’s in dealing with Asian
countries inevitably gave rise to a feeling of Asianness.” Comment.
“The Eastern Question has always been an international question.” Comment.
“Nominally the new Turkey was republican and democratic.” Comment.

For this section, UPSC has not asked questions in the last 4-5 years. One of the most interesting source is L.Mukherjee’s chapter– mentioned in the introduction.

III- Decolonisation

  • Liberation from Colonial Rule: 
  • Latin America-Bolivar;
  • Arab World-Egypt;
  • Africa-Apartheid to Democracy;
  • South-East Asia-Vietnam

Previous Year Questions:

  • Explain how American imperialism in Philippinesdiffered with European imperialism in Indonesia and Indo-China? 2011
  • The Arab nationalismhad a peculiar character. It stood for nation independence for separate Arab States as well as for the unity of all Arabs irrespective of their state boundaries.” – Examine. 2012
  • “There must be an end to white monopoly on political power, and a fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to ensure that the inequalities of apartheidare addressed and our society thoroughly democratized.” Discuss. 2013
  • Trace the significant role played by Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam’s strugglefor freedom. 2016
  • Explain why Bolivar’s efforts failed to fructify in bringing about united stand of the Latin Americans. 2017
  • Explain the features of Apartheid in South Africa. ​​​​​​ 2018

In this section –


South Africa

It has the notes on South Africa, Latin America, Vietnam, Indo-China. Read sections of Norman Lowe included in the link;

For Arab- Egypt section, refer L. Mukherjee’s book, Part III Chapter 1.


Decolonization and Underdevelopment: Factors constraining development: Latin America, Africa

  • Discuss the factors constraining development of Africaafter decolonization. 2018

Africa and Latin America

This is a short yet very specific topic. Focus on Africa and Latin America with political map and crucial events. Harold Macmillan’s 1960 speech is often asked as a question. This sub-section is dealt very well in Arjun Dev’s- Contemporary World History- Old NCERT Class XII book -last chapter.

 Theme 8:

  • World Wars: 1st and 2nd World Wars as Total Wars: Societal implications;
  • World War I: Causes and consequences;
  • World War II: Causes and consequence


I- World War I & II

II- Spanish Civil War

Previous Year Questions:

  • “The Berlin Congress (1878) failed to unlock the Eastern Question. Though there was no longer major war in Europe for nearly three decades after the Treaty of Berlin, it contained the seeds of many future wars.” Critically Evaluate. 2015
  • How far is it correct to say that the First World Warwas fought essentially for the preservation of the balance of power? 2015
  • Do you agree with the view that the Treaty of Versailleswas a bad compromise between a treaty based upon force and a treaty based on ideas? 2016
  • League of Nations is a League of Notions.” Comment. 2016
  • Why was the First World War termed as the first ‘total’ warin modern history?  2017
  • Until December 1941, the battlefield of the Second World Warwas exclusively European and Atlantic; thereafter it became also Asiatic and Pacific.” 2018

This section again requires a holistic reading of

  1. Imperialist rivalries from 1890’s – Scramble of Africa issue, Balance of Power
  2. Immediate Causes of World War I and II
  3. Separate Notes on inter-war years 1919-1939with focus on Fascism, Nazism, Great depression, Spanish Civil War in specific
  4. Impact of both the World Wars- social, political, economic;
  5. Treaty of Versailles and League of Nation, 1919; Tehran 1943, Yalta and Potsdam Conference, 1945.

For this section and the next section on Cold War, do read Arjun Dev’s- Contemporary World History- Old NCERT Class XII book with Maps and illustrations. 

Theme 9 – Phase of Cold War and After


  • The World after World War II: 
  • Emergence of two power blocs;

I have attached Norman Lowe chapters as well as notes in the link here

Cold War

Previous Year Questions:

  • Discuss the circumstances leading to the Suez Crisis of 1956and examine its repercussions on global politics. 2014 – This is also relevant to Middle East topic;
  • “The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Planwere considered by Russian Bloc as a weapon against Russia in order to restrict her influence.” Critically examine. 2015
  • What factors contributed to the emergence of a unipolar world2016
  • Outline the circumstances leading to Détente.2016
  • Outline the circumstances leading to adoption of Marshall Plan.2018

The key area of emphasis should be


  • Disintegration of Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World: 
  • Factors leading to the collapse of Soviet communism and the Soviet Union, 1985-1991;
  • Political Changes in Eastern Europe 1989-2001;
  • End of the cold war and US ascendancy in the World as the lone superpower.

Attached links:

I – USA Ascendancy and Post 1990 World Order

II- Disintegration of USSR

Previous year paper analysis:

  • “By the 1980s, the communist system of the Soviet Union was incapable of maintaining the country’s role as a superpower.” Elucidate. 2013 & 2017
  • In what way did the political changes in Soviet Union influence the events in Eastern Europe during the closing decades of the 20th century? 2016
  • Review the policy of Glasnost adopted by Gorbachev2018


  • This section must focus centrally on Eastern Europe, its political map, shifts post disintegration, specific changes in countries like Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia etc.
  • Secondly, detailed understanding of rationale behind the twin reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev, –Perestroika and Glasnost;Its implications and outcome.
  • Also, a brief analysis of the post 1991 Russia and global world order- with focus on the end of Cold War.

III– Emergence of Third World and non-alignment;

  • The role of the Non-Alignment Movementin world affairs had suffered greatly due to the theatre of internecine conflicts among the Third World countries who spearheaded it.” Elucidate. 2015

In this section, the most important aspect to prepare is about the relevance of NAM, linking it with present context.

I am attaching few articles-


IV- UNO and the global disputes.

“In spite of the careful framing of the charter, the role of UNO as Peacekeeper and international mediator has been somewhat lacklustre and muted and that continues to be so even after the end of cold war.” Elucidate. 2013

“The UNO was created in the light of the experience of the ‘League of Nations’, but in spite of the mandate contained in the UNO constitution, its effective role in maintaining world peace had lacked cohesiveness and collective approach.” Examine. 2015

Discuss how far the United Nations has been successful in resolve global disputes from year 1946 to 1991. 2018

Source and Analysis:

Here is my notes and the chapter of Norman lowe’s book

  • In this particular sub-topic, prepare the notes taking link from the underlined -highlighted area of priority- which is role and assessment of UNO in resolving, tackling global disputes.
  • I attempted the question in Mains exam with clear chronological elucidation of disputes – those which UNO dealt well like Suez Crisis and those which are yet to be resolved by consensus like Israel- Palestine 1948, India-Pakistan 1947
  • Again, like NAM, here also prepare a note on relevance of UNO and potential reforms. I am attaching few here-

V- Unification of Europe:

  • Post War Foundations: NATO and European Community;
  • Consolidation and Expansion of European Community;
  • European Union.

Previous Year Questions:

  • “By 2014, the sick man of Europe was no longer just Turkey: it was Europe itself.” Explain. 2011
  • “The European union is the new sick man of Europe.” critically evaluate. 2013
  • “Europe was eclipsed through European folly due to the two world wars.” Elucidate. 2014
  • “The European Union, a diplomatic marvel, continues to grapple with intermittent fissures arising out of economic contentious issues that pose a challenge to an effective integration of the Union.” Critically examine. 2015
  • “The collapse of Berlin Wall on 9 November, 1989 brought new meaning to the idea of cooperation in Europe.” 2017

Link-  Europe post-Cold War

Also, the class notes of Cold War folder;

End Note:

This brings us to an end of our analysis of World History section in a comprehensive manner. Hope this helps some of you who find this section slightly complex. If prepared strategically, there is a lot of scope to ensure high marks;

This can be done by practicing 2-3 mocks beforehand and ensuring you score 150+ in it. I wrote 2 mock tests at Insight IAS Academy, New Delhi under S. Baliyan. I scored 152 in my second mock test. That gave me a lot of confidence for two reasons- paper completion and command over content and effective presentation in limited space provided; to ensure that I focus my preparation on Paper 1, which according to me is trickier, scattered, topic-based and unexpected in terms of questions asked;

In my next set of C and D articles, my intent is to decode the complexities of syllabus- sources and questions for any UPSC aspirant intending to think of taking up History optional in case of Ancient and Medieval India.

Until next time;

6 thoughts on “Detailed Strategy for History Optional- Paper II [By Chitra Mishra, Rank 20, CSE-2018, Marks in History- 300]”

  1. Absolutely Gold !
    You deserves it .!
    Kindly please upload Paper 1 inthis format . Thanks in advance

  2. Thank you so much Chitra Ma’am on behalf of all the students struggling with history optional! Waiting eagerly for your directives on Paper I as well. Godspeed!

Leave a Reply