UPSC: The syllabus and pattern of the UPSC IAS Mains exam are designed in a way that tests a candidate’s ability to recall, analyze and express ideas and information, including one’s own thoughts which can only be done through an intensive study of every topic. The UPSC Mains syllabus is designed in such a manner that includes both core and current topics. Therefore it is important for an aspirant to stay focused and cover each topic in-depth. In this article, we have simplified your search for the relevant study material for Mains GS I preparation. Information about all the useful textual and online resources have been provided in the article so that you do not spend much of your precious time creating the book list.
UPSC Mains GS I Book List & Important Resources - History & Culture
Indian Art & Culture
In recent years, the questions asked from this section are more analytical— which requires both factual content and good analysis to answer them. Therefore it is important to understand the social, political, religious, and economic context in which the art was produced. Some of the important books to study Art & Culture are:
- An Introduction to Indian Art – Class XI NCERT
- Chapters related to culture in Ancient and Medieval India NCERTs
- Facets of Indian Culture- Spectrum publications
- Centre for Cultural Resource and Training (CCRT) material
- Heritage Crafts: Living Craft Traditions of India- NCERT
Modern Indian History
Most of the aspirants usually have already prepared this section for Prelims. The syllabus remains the same for Mains as well. The mains exam needs writing practice. You can refer to the below resources for revision:
- A Brief History of Modern India- Rajiv Ahir (Spectrum Publications)
- India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra
India After Independence
- India Since Independence by Bipan Chandra
The key areas to focus on are the Enlightenment, American and French Revolutions, and the World Wars.
- Mastering World History – Norman Lowe
- History of the World – Arjun Dev
- World History: Patterns of Interaction - McDougal Littell (Chapter 22 to Chapter 36)
UPSC Mains GS I Book List & Important Resources - Geography
The geography syllabus for Prelims and Mains is almost similar. For Mains, candidates need to emphasize an in-depth study of each topic and memorizing of facts, figures, and locations. The use of diagrams, maps, and tables can fetch more marks in the exam. Refer to the below study material to prepare for Mains GS I Geography section.
- Fundamentals of Physical Geography - Class XI NCERT
- India: Physical Environment - Class XI NCERT
- Fundamentals of Human Geography - Class XII NCERT
- India: People and Economy - Class XII NCERT
- Certificate Physical and Human Geography: GC Leong
- PMFIAS (Excellent resource for understanding complex topics)
UPSC Mains GS I Book List & Important Resources - Indian Society
Indian Society is a generic topic with no particular style or structure. Questions asked from this section are sometimes philosophical and the challenge is to sum-up the entire content concisely in 200 words. To understand the basics you can refer to the following sources:
- Class XI and XII - Sociology NCERT
- ARC Reports
- Reports of NGOs, international organizations, etc.
Points to Remember:
Keep a Copy of Syllabus Handy: Along with these books, get a printout of the syllabus and read it carefully. Your final aim should be to have enough content to write a 250-word answer.
Previous Years’ Papers: Go through the past five years’ question papers to understand the type of questions usually asked by UPSC.
Focus on Current Affairs: Apart from the books and resources mentioned here, you should simultaneously read current affairs and make relevant notes out of it. For eg: any welfare scheme launched by the Government or a study conducted by WHO could be useful information to quote in your answers.
Practice Answer Writing: Reading and revision is an important part of the preparation. But if you cannot concise your answers in the word limit or not able to complete the paper in the allotted time period, the revision will be of no use. Therefore it is important to practice answer writing.
You will never feel content with your Mains preparation and there is always a nagging tendency to just keep reading and procrastinate writing answers or skip an upcoming test. You have to overcome this reluctance through conscious effort. We hope that the information above would be helpful in your preparation.
All the best!