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History has been one of the 'most popular' optional subjects for mains. If you are not intimidated by a big syllabus, this subject has following advantages:
• Easier to grasp,
• No dearth of study material and
• Covers an important segment of General Studies paper on account of
overlapping themes.

In contrast to the Prelim Exam, which seeks to stress more on facts and extensive coverage of themes, the Main Exam stresses on conceptualization behind the facts of historical happenings. Listed below is the 'right strategy' for the mains.

Ancient Indian history
In the syllabus, there is greater emphasis on sources of early Indian history. In archaeology, one has to keep oneself abreast with the latest findings. The politico administrative history from pre-Mauryan period - rise of Mahajanapadas, to post- Gupta period-beginning of feudalism and centrifugal trends has been given more significance in the revised syllabus.

You should start from Indus civilisation and trace the evolution upto the post-Gupta period; Major Philosophical thinkers and schools, wherein you should take into account Brahmanical, Buddhist and Jain philosophical schools. In science and mathematics, you can start from the contribution of the Harappans to Aryabhatta.

Medieval Indian History 
To make it simple, you should categorise this section into five subsections: This part of the syllabus gives greater emphasis on contemporary historians and sources of the medieval Indian history. Prepare them for short questions; whereas study the Delhi sultanate in totality. Likewise treat the Mughals holistically, giving special emphasis on the age of Akbar; in this unit, include all the provincial dynasties while the Cholas, the Vijayanagar and the Marathas should be prepared for a major question and for the last which is perhaps the most important unit from the examination point of view, you must have a comparative and evolutionary approach.

Modern Indian History 
Modern Indian history requires a chronological study.

British conquests and Indian reactions: The syllabus mentions Mysore, Punjab, the Marathas and their resistance against the colonial power. You should study the political, social and economic circumstances leading to the 1857 revolt and other uprisings, such as tribal, civil and peasants.

British economic policy: An important aspect of British colonisation was economic exploitation of India and its ruinous impact on Indian society. In this regard pronationalistic and Leftist ideological viewpoints must be taken into account. 

Socio-cultural aspects: It can include sub-topics like Indian Renaissance, Christian missionary activities, evolution of educational and social policies and its role in rise of nationalism in India. Other sub-topics, such as on literary personalities like Tagore, Premchand, S Bharati and others; film and theater are important as well. It reflects a shift towards cultural evolution of modern India.

Freedom struggle: A thorough and in-depth study of history of Indian nationalism from 1885-foundation of Congress to 1947 - partition and freedom is a must. This section accounts for 90-100 marks in Main General Studies paper too. Sub-divide the particular unit into following section: 1885 to 1916, which includes early Indian nationalism upto 'Home Rule' movement; 1916 to 1945, which is the 'Gandhian era'. You can start form 'Champaran experiment' to 'Quit India movement'.
The Gandhian thought and methods of mass mobilisation should be given special emphasis; 1945 to 1947 - a chronological study of this portion will be the right approach. Analyse how and why Indian nationalism, at the end yielded a paradoxical result, which is partition and freedom together; other strands of national movement, which ran parallel to the Congress movement; rise and growth of the revolutionary terrorism; Swarajist movement; social and communist movements; Indian National Army - role of Subhash Chandra Bose and rise and growth of communalism.

Independence to 1964: This unit includes the Nehruvian era and development of an independent Indian polity, Constitution, planned economy and foreign policy.

World history
There has been a shift towards conceptualisation and generalisation of events than factual study of individual events themselves. You can start with Renaissance, enlightenment and socialist ideas. Similarly undertake a study of all the major revolutions that shaped the modern world history.

Moreover, the two World Wars have to be studied as total wars. Going through the new syllabus, one can safely conclude that mastering the European history can fetch more marks now. The second half of this section makes world history more contemporary and relevant. This section now covers important portions of General Studies' paper too.

A good book on international politics or contemporary history will suffice for this portion. You are now expected to have detailed and in-depth understanding of the post-World War II developments, such as the 'Cold War' and division of world into two military blocs, NATO and Warsaw pact; emergence of the 'Third World' and their decision to remain nonaligned; United Nations; decolonisation and factors constraining development of the newly-independent Latin American and African countries.

At the same time you should study the circumstances leading to the end of the 'Cold War' and the US ascendancy in the world, as well as the disintegration of Soviet Union, fall of Berlin wall and the US and the UN victory in the Gulf war. Another important strand of contemporary history is process of integration deciding fate of nations across the globe, which is 'Globalisation'. Continent-wise, Europe has already achieved a major success in this regard in the form of the European Union.

Reference Books

Basic Material: NCERT and Agnihotri.*

Ancient History
1. Early India – Romilla Thaper*
2. Ashoka and Decline of Mauryan Empire – Romilla Thaper
3. Ancient India – D.N. Jha*
4. Ancient India – V.D.Mahajan
5. South Indian History – Nilakanta Sastry*
6. The wonder that was India- AL Basham*
7. Ancient India – R.C.Mazumdar

Medieval India
1. Advanced study in the history of Medieval India – JL Mehta ( 3 parts)*
2. Medieval India- Satish Chandra ( 2 Parts)*
3. The Sultanate of Delhi – A L Srivastava*
4. The Mughal Empire - A L Srivastava*
5. The wonder that was India- Rizvi

Modern India
1. Modern India – Grover & Grover
2. Indias Struggle for freedom – Bipin Chandra*
3. Modern India – Sumit Sarkar*
4. Social background of Indian History – A R Desai

World History
1. Europe since the French Revolution – L. Mukherjee*
2. IGNOU material

The books with '*' mark are standard and must. Other books are supplementary.



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