UPSC (IAS) Prelims 2021: Check Important Topics From Modern History

UPSC IAS Prelims 2021 important topics from Modern History are given here. The given points and topics will be beneficial for your UPSC IAS 2021 Prelims preparation.

Shailaja Tripathi
Dec 31, 2020, 10:21 IST
UPSC Prelims Modern History Topics
UPSC Prelims Modern History Topics

UPSC IAS Prelims 2021 exam is scheduled to be on 27th June 2021. The paper of the IAS prelims exam majorly covers all the subjects testing the basic overall understanding of the aspirants. History is one of the subjects which is covered in the IAS Prelims exam. The subject is divided into Ancient, Medieval and Modern and it is important to prepare from all the three sections equally. Starting with Modern history, we are providing you with the important topics which are generally covered in the UPSC IAS Prelims exam. It will be helpful in your preparation and will help you to understand each topic much more clearly.

Revolution During the 1920s

This time period of Modern History mostly covers the revolutionary and extremist steps taken by freedom fighters such as Chandra Shekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh. The questions from this topic is particularly asked in the reference to the particular incidents example, kakori Train Robbery or Lahore Conspiracy case. The important parts that are covered in this section are:

  • Revolutionary activities by women from Bengal under the leadership of Surya Sen
  • Hindustan Republican Association
  • Role of Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad in the reorganization of HRA
  • Revolutionaries sentenced for Sedition

For reference, check some of the questions from the topic below:

Q- Consider the following statements regarding Surya Sen:

1) Surya Sen was the secretary of the Chittagong District Congress Committee.
2) Surya Sen had participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement.
3) He was a teacher in the national school in Calcutta.
Choose the correct statements:

a.1 and 2
b. 2 and 3
c. Only 3
d. Neither 1 nor 3

Answer: a

UPSC 2021 (IAS) Prelims: Check Important Questions & Answers from Modern History

Q- Which of the famous inspiring quote is correctly matched by the Revolutionary’s name?

1) "Real revolutionary armies are in villages and factories."- By Chandra Shekhar Azad
2) "Humanism is a special virtue of a revolutionary."- By Surya Sen
3) "Revolution does not necessarily involve sanguinary strife, nor is there a place in it for personal vendetta. It is not the cult of bomb and pistol. By revolution we mean the present order of things, which is based on manifest injustice, must change"- By Bhagat Singh

Choose the correct statements:

a.1 and 3
b. 2 and 3
c. All of the above
d. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: b

Khilafat Movement and Non-Cooperation Movement

Every year around 2-3 questions are asked from Non-Cooperation Movement. The incidents which led to the success of this movement and how it played a major role in the freedom struggle. Some of the points that must be covered while preparing from Non-cooperation and Khilafat Movement are:

  • Regional impact of Non- Cooperation Movement
  • Incidents that forced Gandhiji for the withdrawal of the Non-cooperation Movement
  • Changes in the organizational structure of Congress with the declaration of Non- Cooperation Movement
  • Role of Mohammad Ali and brother Maulana Shaukat Ali in the formation of All India Khilafat Committee

For reference, go through the questions asked from the mentioned topics 

Q- Most of the nationalist leaders expressed their bewilderment at Gandhi's decision to withdraw the non-cooperation movement. Match the following reactions :

1) Jawahar Lal Nehru called the withdrawal as nothing short of a National Calamity.
2) Gandhiji said “I would suffer every humiliation, every torture, absolute ostracism, and death itself to prevent the movement from becoming violent”


a.Only 1
b. Only 2
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: b

Q- The Congress-Khilafat Swarajya Party formation as the aftermath reaction of withdrawal of non-cooperation was Established by?

  1. Chittaranjan Das, Narasimha Chintaman Kelkar and Jawaharlal Nehru
    b. Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru
    c. Chittaranjan Das, Narasimha Chintaman Kelkar and Motilal Nehru
    d. None of the above

Answer: c

Swarajists and No- Changers

The section covers mostly this particular school of thought that believed to be a part of the legislative council. The questions that are mostly asked are regarding the leaders who supported this school of thought. The topics that you must cover under this are:

  • Role of All India Trade Union Congress
  • Name of leaders supporting Swarajists School of thought
  • November elections of 1923
  • Achievements of Swarajists under the legislature

The reference questions are given below:

Q- The group on Non-Responsivist lines within the Swarajists was led by:

a.Lala Lajpat Rai
b. Motilal Nehru
c. N.C.Kelkar
d. Madan Mohan Malaviya
Answer: b

Q- Consider the following statements representing no changers school of thought:

1) Opposed council entry.
2) Concentration on constructive work.
3) Continuation of the philosophy of boycott and noncooperation.
4) C.R Das and Motilal Nehru were their main leaders.


  1. 1,2 and 3
    b. 2,3 and 4
    c. 1,3 and 4
    d. All of the above

Answer: a

Economic Policies During the British Government Administration 

Under this, the major economic changes and under British administration will be covered. Their policies regarding the trade establishing their authority in India. Points are bifurcated below to understand it in a better way:

  • Policies that led to the transformation of India’s economy into a colonial economy
  • Indian Industries in the colonial period
  • Impact of Import and exports of goods during British India
  • Peasantry and agriculture during the colonial rule in India

Some reference questions are:

 Q- By the end of the 19th century the money-lender had become a major curse of the countryside and an important cause of the growing poverty of the rural people. Consider the following statements regarding the debt and poverty situation of India by the end of the 19th century:
I. In 1911 the total rural debt was estimated at Rs.300 crores which amounted to Rs. 1,800 crores in 1937.
II. The pressure of taxation and growing poverty pushed the cultivators into debt which in turn increased then poverty.
III. The growing commercialization of agriculture also helped the money- lender-cum-merchant to exploit the cultivator.

Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
a. Only I
b. I and II
c. I and III
d. All of the above

Answer: c

Q- There was a sudden and quick collapse of the urban handicrafts which had for centuries made India's name a byword in the markets of the entire civilised world. Consider the following statements regarding the ruin of artisans and craftsmen after the establishment of British rule in India:
I. The collapse of the urban handicrafts was caused largely by competition with the cheaper imported machine-goods from Britain.
II. The British imposed a policy of one-way free trade on India after 1813 and the invasion of British manufactures, in particular cotton textiles, immediately followed.
III. The ruin of Indian industries, particularly rural artisan industries, proceeded even more rapidly once the railways were built.

Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
a. Only I
b. I and II
c. II and III
d. All of the above

Answer: d

Indian National Movement

Covering all the major movements from Non-Cooperation to Civil Disobedience, this section has revolutionary movements, acts, and seditions implemented against those movements along with the contribution of great leaders.

Important points are:

  • Major Revolutionary movements
  • Congress-led movements
  • Regional impact of these movements

Some of the Reference questions are:

Q- Which one of the following is a very significant aspect of the Champaran Satyagraha?

(a) Active all-India participation of lawyers, students and women in the National Movement
(b) Active involvement of Dalit and Tribal communities of India in the National Movement
(c) Joining of peasant unrest to India's National Movement
(d) Drastic decrease in the cultivation of plantation crops and commercial crops


Q- With reference to Indian National Movement, consider the following pairs:


Position held

1. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru

President, All India Liberal Federation

2. K. C. Neogy

Member, The Constituent Assembly

3. P. C. Joshi

General Secretary, Communist Party of India

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: d

World War

Covering majorly the Second World War (1939- 1945), you can cover the important role it played for India’s Independence. The introduction of various plans and the extraction of resources from India after the war are some of the points that must be kept in mind.

  • Various plans and policies after the world war
  • How Britain extracted resources from India once the war ended
  • Recruitment of Indians for the Second World War

UPSC IAS Prelims Exam: Modern History of India Syllabus Explained

For reference, check the questions from previous years paper from below:

Q- With reference to the British colonial rule in India, consider the following statements:

  1. Mahatma Gandhi was instrumental in the abolition of the system of 'indentured labour'.
  2. In Lord Chelmsford's 'War Conference', Mahatma Gandhi did not support the resolution on recruiting Indians for World War.
  3. Consequent upon the breaking of Salt Law by Indian people, the Indian National Congress was declared illegal by the colonial rulers.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 1 and 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: b

Q- The plan of Sir Stafford Cripps envisaged that after the Second World War

(a) India should be granted complete independence(b) India should be partitioned into two before granting independence
(c) India should be made a republic with the condition that she will join the Commonwealth
(d) India should be given Dominion status

Answer .d

Partition of India

Understand the rise of communal politics leading to the partition of India. There are at least 1 or 2 questions every year from this particular topic. Go through some of the points from below:

  • Rise and Spread of Communalism
  • Foundation of Hindu Mahasabha
  • Partition of British India
  • The viewpoints of the present scholars regarding the partition and the ideologies of the leaders supporting it
  • Formation and activities of Muslim League

 Some of the Reference questions are:

 Q- Consider the following statements regarding the “Pakistan” Resolution:
I.    On 23 March 1940, the League moved a resolution demanding a measure of autonomy for the Muslim majority areas of the subcontinent.
II.    Sikandar Hayat Khan, Punjab Premier, and leader of the Unionist Party, who had drafted the resolution, declared in a Punjab assembly speech on 1 March 1941 that he was opposed to a Pakistan that would mean “Muslim Raj here and Hindu Raj elsewhere ...
III.    The origins of the Pakistan demand have also been traced back to the Urdu poet Mohammad Iqbal, the writer of “Sare Jahan Se Achha Hindustan Hamara”.

Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
A.    Only I
B.    I and II
C.    I and III
D.    All of the above

Answer: D

 Q- Which of the following statements is incorrect regarding the term ‘communalism’?
A.    Communalism refers to a politics that seeks to unify one community around a religious identity in hostile opposition to another community.
B.    Communalism refers to a politics that seeks to divide one community around a religious identity in hostile opposition to another community.
C.    Communalism attempts to consolidate this identity and present it as natural – as if people were born into the identity, as if the identities do not evolve through history over time.
D.    Communalism is a particular kind of politicisation of religious identity, an ideology that seeks to promote conflict between religious communities.

Answer: B

Indian Constitution

One of the important topics of Modern History, at least 2-3 questions can be easily expected from this section. The framing of the constitution, important leaders and their roles, the inclusivity on the basis of religion, caste, gender are some of the important elements of this topic.

  • The time period between which the Indian Constitution was framed
  • The making of the Constituent assembly
  • Role of the leaders and their strategies in order to draft an inclusive Constitution
  • Members of the drafting committee of the Constitution

Some of the Questions for Reference are given below:

Q- Who was the Chief Draughtsman of the Constituent Assembly?

A.Jawaharlal Nehru
B.Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar
C.Dr. Rajendra Prasad
D.S. N. Mukherjee

Answer: D

Q- Consider the following statements regarding the making of the Constituent Assembly:

I. The members of the Constituent Assembly were not elected on the basis of universal franchise.
II. The Constituent Assembly that came into being was equally represented by the Congress and the Muslim League.
III. The Congress swept the general seats in the provincial elections held in the winter of 1945-46, and the Muslim League captured most of the reserved Muslim seats.

Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

A.Only I
B.I and II
C.I and III
D.All of the above

Answer: C

UPSC Civil Services (IAS) Prelims 2021: Subject-wise Study Material for Complete Preparation

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