Topic 1: Indian History
Indian history can be divided into three major areas, namely, ancient history, medieval history and modern history. As far as UPSC examination is concerned, Art and Culture topics are also important. As a whole, from the Indian History topic, we can expect 20 questions, which is approximately 20% of the total questions. Most of the questions are likely to be asked from Modern History and Art and Culture.
First, let us take a look at Ancient History. The major concepts to keep in mind include Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic eras, tools used and discovered during these periods, the major geographic regions involved in these periods (with their past and present names), etc. Also, Indus Valley civilization, Vedic period, etc, and their major events, places, and tools used need to be learned in detail. The next important topic is the Maurya Empire founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 321 BCE. When learning about empires such as these, the first thing to study is the ruling time periods of the kings of that empire. Also, the unique features of each ruler, important books written during that time, major travelers who visited the kingdom, main locations, administrative systems, titles of administrative positions, etc., need to be studied. Nicknames and special names need to be remembered. For instance, Emperor Asoka and King Dasaratha both were addressed as “Devanampriya.” Mostly for TNPSC, such things would be asked directly. When it comes to UPSC,
Who among the following had the special name “Devanampriya?”
1. Emperor Asoka 2. Chandragupta Maurya 3. King Dasaratha
A. 1 only correct B. 1,3 correct C. 2,3 correct D. All are correct,
would be the form of questions. After Maurya empire, it is important to know about small dynasties and kingdoms like the Shungas, Huns, Kanvas, etc., and rulers like Satakarni, Vasudeva, Rudradaman, Kanishka, et al. Next, it would be good to learn about Gupta Empire (320-550 CE) in the same manner as the aforesaid (Maurya) empires. Sample question,
1. Brihat-Samhita was written by Varahamihira
2. Fa-Hien (also Faxian) visited India during the time of Chandragupta Maurya II
A. 1 correct 2 wrong B. 2 correct 1 wrong C. Both 1 and 2 are correct ( answer ) D. Both are wrong.
Also, it is important to know salient points about post-Gupta empire rulers such as Mihirakula, Harsha, Dhruvasena, Udayadeva, etc. Sample questions,
Which of the following was not written by Harsha?
A. Priyadarsika B. Ratnavali C. Nagananda D. Meghadutam (answer)
Sangam period is very important in Ancient History. Places where Sangam was held, then rulers, notable creations, etc., have been asked repeatedly in examinations including TNPSC Group 1. For UPSC, of the 20% questions coming from Indian History, Ancient History might account for 5-7 questions. This is a figure I am arriving at from my own experience. Every year, the proportions of questions asked per topic is highly likely to change. Similarly, the above-mentioned topics are a few of the important ones in ancient history. In the same manner, if notes are prepared for all other topics in ancient history, our preparation in this area can be considered comprehensive. In this topic, for TNPSC we will have to largely face questions pertaining to ancient Tamil history. For UPSC, a single question can include points from multiple periods and can be rather challenging. Going forward, we will discuss ways to address this challenge. In the next topic, we shall discuss medieval history.
History is a subject which can be easily studied. If we take a look at the questions, we can find that they require rather direct answers. Therefore, learn these topics without missing anything. We will meet again on next topic!
About Dr. K Vijayakarthikeyan, IAS
Commissioner and Special Officer, Coimbatore Municipal Corporation. He is a 2011 batch Indian Administrative Service officer. After getting trained as Assistant Collector in Erode, he was posted as Sub Collector, Kovilpatti. There, he started a group named “Kovilpatti Study League” and trained village students for competitive examinations. In 2014, at 28 years of age, he assumed charge as Coimbatore City Municipal Commissioner. He was the prime-mover behind Coimbatore getting chosen as the top city from Tamil Nadu as a “Smart City” in the very first selection round. His first book, “Ettum doorathil IAS,” was published by Vikatan Publications. Recently, his latest book “Adhuvum Idhuvum” has also been published. He continues to be engaged in training and motivating youngsters for appearing in civil service examinations.