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Indian History Questions for UPSC Mains

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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

The UPSC mains exam is written (subjective) in nature.

Here We Provide Subject Wise and Year Wise Ancient, Medieval, Modern and World History Questions.

UPSC Mains Syllabus 2023

There are 4 General Studies Papers (including a paper on Ethics), 1 essay paper, and 2 optional-subject papers. Apart from these, there are 2 compulsory language papers which are just qualifying in nature.

Ancient history


1. Evaluate the nature of the Bhakti Literature and its contribution to Indian culture


1. Persian literary sources of medieval India reflect the spirit of the age. Comment. (Answer in 250 words)


1. Highlight the Central Asian and Greco-Bactrian elements in Gandhara art.


1. Assess the importance of the accounts of the Chinese and Arab travellers in the reconstruction of the history of India.

2. Safeguarding the Indian art heritage is the need of the moment. Discuss.

3. The Bhakti movement received a remarkable re-orientation with the advent of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Discuss.


1. How do you justify the view that the level of excellence of the Gupta numismatic art is not at all noticeable in later times?


1. Krishnadeva Raya, the King of Vijayanagar, was not only an accomplished scholar himself but was also a great patron of learning and literature. Discuss.

2. Early Buddhist Stupa-art, while depicting folk motifs and narratives successfully expounds Buddhist ideals. Elucidate.


1. Mesolithic rock-cut architecture of India not only reflects the cultural life of the times but also a fine aesthetic sense comparable to modern painting. Critically evaluate this comment.

2. The ancient civilization in the Indian sub-continent differed from those of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece in that its culture and traditions have been preserved without a breakdown to the present day. Comment.


1. Taxila university was one of the oldest universities of the world with which were associated a number of renowned learned personalities of different disciplines. Its strategic location caused its fame to flourish, but unlike Nalanda, it is not considered as a university in the modern sense. Discuss.

2. Sufis and medieval mystic saints failed to modify either the religious ideas and practices or the outward structure of Hindu / Muslim societies to any appreciable extent. Comment.

3. To what extent has the urban planning and culture of the Indus Valley Civilization provided inputs to present-day urbanization? Discuss.

4. Gandhara sculpture owed as much to the Romans as to the Greeks. Explain.


1. (a) Discuss the ‘Tandava’ dance as recorded in early Indian inscriptions. (b) Chola architecture represents a high watermark in the evolution of temple architecture. Discuss.

2. Though not very useful from the point of view of a connected political history of South India, the Sangam literature portrays the social and economic conditions of its time with remarkable vividness. Comment.

Modern History


1. Trace the rise and growth of socio-religious reform movements with special reference to Young Bengal and Brahmo Samaj.

2. To what extinct did the role of moderates prepare a base for the wider freedom movement? comment

3. Bring out the constructive programmes of Mahatma Gandhi during Non-Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement.


1. Evaluate the policies of Lord Curzon and their long-term implications on the national movement. (Answer in 150 words).

2. Since the decade of the 1920s, the national movement acquired various ideological strands and thereby expanded its social base. Discuss. (Answer in 250 words).


1. Assess the role of British imperial power in complicating the process of transfer of power during the 1940s.

2. The 1857 Uprising was the culmination of the recurrent big and small local rebellions that had occurred in the preceding hundred years of British rule. Elucidate.

3. Examine the linkages between the nineteenth century’s ‘Indian Renaissance and the emergence of national identity

4. Many voices strengthened and enriched the nationalist movement during the Gandhian phase. Elaborate


1. Why indentured labour was taken by the British from India to other colonies? Have they been able to preserve their cultural identity over there?

2. Throw light on the significance of the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi in the present times.


1. Highlight the importance of the new objective that got added to the vision of Indian independence since the twenties of the last century

2. The women’s questions arose in modern India as a part of the 19th-century social reform movement. What were the major issues and debates concerning women in that period?

3. Clarify how mid-eighteenth century India was beset with the spectre of a fragmented polity?

4. Why did the ‘Moderates’ fail to carry conviction with the nation about their proclaimed ideology and political goals by the end of the nineteenth century?

5. Examine how the decline of traditional artisanal industry in colonial India crippled the rural economy.


1. Highlight the difference in the approach of Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for freedom.

2. Explain how the upraising of 1857 constitutes an important watershed in the evolution of British policies towards colonial India.

3. Discuss the role of women in the freedom struggle, especially during the Gandhian phase


1. It would have been difficult for the Constituent Assembly to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India in just three years but for the experience gained with the Government of India Act, of 1935. Discuss

2. How different would have been the achievement of Indian independence without Mahatma Gandhi? Discuss

3. Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, despite having divergent approaches and strategies, had a common goal of amelioration of the downtrodden. Elucidate


1. In what ways did the naval mutiny prove to be the last nail in the coffin of British colonial aspirations in India?

2. What were the major political, economic and social developments in the world which motivated the anti-colonial struggle in India?

3. The third battle of Panipat was fought in 1761. Why were so many empire-shaking battles fought at Panipat?

4. Examine critically the various facets of economic policies of the British in India from the mid-eighteenth century till independence.


1. “In many ways, Lord Dalhousie was the founder of modern India.” Elaborate

2. Critically discuss the objectives of the Bhoodan and Gramdan Movements initiated by Acharya Vinoba Bhave and their success.

3. Defying the barriers of age, gender and religion, Indian women became the torch-bearer during the struggle for freedom in India. Discuss.

4. Several foreigners made India their homeland and participated in various movements. Analyze their role in the Indian struggle for freedom.

World History


1. There arose a serious challenge to the Democratic State System between the two World Wars.” Evaluate the statement.


1. Explain how the foundations of the modern world were laid by the American and French Revolutions


1. What problems were germane to the decolonization process in the Malay Peninsula?


1. The anti-colonial struggles in West Africa were led by the new elite of Western-educated Africans. Examine.


1. To what extent can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically

2. Why did the industrial revolution first occur in England? Discuss the quality of life of the people there during the industrialization. How does it compare with that in India at present?


1. The New Economic Policy – 1921 of Lenin influenced the policies adopted by India soon after independence. Evaluate.

2. What were the events that led to the Suez Crisis in 1956? How did it deal a final blow to Britain’s self-image as a world power?


1. “American Revolution was an economic revolt against mercantilism.” Substantiate.

2. What policy instruments were deployed to contain the Great Economic Depression?

3. “‘Latecomer’ Industrial Revolution in Japan involved certain factors that were markedly different from what West had experienced.” Analyze.

4. “Africa was chopped into States artificially created by accidents of European competition.” Analyze


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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

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