Sunday, 27 September 2015

General Studies Paper 1

Hi friends ,

Lets now discuss how to prepare General Studies Paper 1 for mains .

Some guidelines before you start your preparation:

1. Keep the syllabus in front of you.
2.Decide which books/notes you will follow.Stick to the same material till the end of the exam.
3. Look into the past question papers to understand how questions have been asked.
4.Make your own notes accordingly. Notes should be such that they contain important key words/phrases .You should be able to revise the notes before the exam.

GS paper 1 has five main categories

1.Indian History -Pre-independence and post independence
2.World History
3.Indian Society

Here are the basic books for reference. You can also find alternative sources.

Description in the syllabus
Reference books
  • Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

  • Spectrum -Facets of Indian culture
  • Selected chapters on art forms,literature and architecture from Ancient India NCERT
  • The Hindu
  • Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues.
  • The Freedom Struggle - its various stages and important contributors or contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.

  • A brief history of Modern India -Spectrum
  • India since Independence -Bipin Chandra.
  • History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc. - their forms and effect on the society.

World History -Norman Love
The book is recommended for optional students.For GS,note down the important events and take down 5-10 points for each )
Example -For Industrial Revolution ,note down causes ,impact and the differences in its evolution in different countries.
  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  • Role of women and women's organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  • Effects of globalization on Indian society.
  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

  • Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location - changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
  • Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).

( For industrial location factors)

You can use these NCERTs as well .

Questions from past question papers-2013 and 2014


  1. To what extent has the urban planning and culture of the Indus Valley Civilization provided inputs to the present day urbanization? Discuss.
  2. Gandhara sculpture owed as much to the Romans as to the Greeks. Explain.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Discuss the Tandava dance as recorded in the early Indian inscriptions.
  7. Chola architecture represents a high watermark in the evolution of temple architecture. Discuss.

Indian History

  1. The third battle of Panipat was fought in 1761. Why were so many empire-shaking battles fought at Panipat?
  2. Examine critically the various facets of economic policies of the British in India from mid-eighteenth century till independence.
  3. In what ways did the naval mutiny prove to be the last nail in the coffin of British colonial aspirations in India?
  4. Defying the barriers of age, gender and religion, the Indian women became the torch bearer during the struggle for freedom in India. Discuss.
  5. Several foreigners made India their homeland and participated in various movements. Analyze their role in the Indian struggle for freedom.
  6. In many ways, Lord Dalhousie was the founder of modern India. Elaborate.
  7. Critically discuss the objectives of Bhoodan and Gramdan movements initiated by Acharya Vinoba Bhave and their success.
  8. Write a critical note on the evolution and significance of the slogan “Jai Jawana Jai Kisan”.
  9. Discuss the contribution of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to pre-and post-independent India.
  10. Analyze the circumstances that led to Tashkent Agreement in 1966. Discuss the highlights of the agreement.
  11. Critically examine the compulsions which prompted India to play a decisive roles in the emergence of Bangladesh.
World History
  1. What were the major political, economic and social developments in the world which motivated the anti-colonial struggle in India?

  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?

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

  4. “Latecomer” Industrial revolution in Japan involved certain factors that were markedly different from what west had experience.
  5. Africa was chopped into states artificially created by accident of European competition. Analyse.
  6. American Revolution was an economic revolt against mercantilism. Substantiate.
  7. What policy instruments were deployed to contain the great economic depression?
Social issues
  1. How does patriarchy impact the position of a middle class working woman in India?

  2. Why do some of the most prosperous regions of India have an adverse sex ratio for women? Give your arguments.

  3. The life cycle of a joint family depends on economic factors rather than social values. Discuss.

  4. Discuss the various economic and socio-cultural forces that are driving increasing feminization of agriculture in India.

  5. How do the Indian debates on secularism differ from the debates in the West?

  6. Discussion the various social problems which originated out of the speedy process of urbanization in India.
  7. Male membership needs to be encouraged in order to make women’s organization free from gender bias. Comment.
  8. Critically examine the effects of globalization on the aged population in India.
  9. Growing feeling of regionalism is an important factor in the generation of demand for a separate state. Discuss.

  1. Whereas the British planters had developed tea gardens all along the Shivaliks and Lesser Himalayas from Assam to Himachal Pradesh, in effect they did not succeed beyond the Darjeeling area. Explain.
  2. Account for the change in the spatial pattern of the Iron and Steel industry in the world.
  3. Why did the Green Revolution in India virtually by-pass the eastern region despite fertile soil and good availability of water?
  4. Explain the formation of thousands of islands in Indonesian and Philippines archipelagos.
  5. Why are the world’s fold mountain systems located along the margins of continents? Bring out the association between the global distribution of Fold Mountains and the earthquakes and volcanoes.
  6. Tropical cyclones are largely confined to South China Sea, Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mexico. Why?
  7. Most of the unusual climatic happenings are explained as an outcome of the El-Nino effect. Do you agree?
  8. Bring out the relationship between the shrinking Himalayan glaciers and the symptoms of climate change in the Indian sub-continent.
  9. Critically evaluate the various resources of the oceans which can be harnessed to meet the resource crisis in the world.
  10. How does India see its place in the economic space of rising natural resource rich Africa?
  11. What do you understand by the theory of continental drift? Discuss the prominent evidences in its support.
  12. The recent cyclone on the east coast of India was called “Phailin”. How are the tropical cyclones named across the world? Elaborate.
  13. Bring out the causes for the formation of heat islands in the urban habitat of the world.
  14. What do you understand by the phenomenon of temperature inversion in meteorology? How does it affect the weather and the habitants of the place? 5 marks 100 words
  15. Major hot deserts in northern hemisphere are located between 20-30 degree north and on the western side of the continents. Why? 10 marks-200 words.
  16. Bringout the causes for more frequent landslides in the Himalayas than in Western Ghats.
  17. There is no formation of deltas by rivers of the Western Ghat. Why?
  18. Do you agree that there is a growing trend of opening new sugar mills in the Southern states of India ? Discuss with justification.
  19. Analyse the factors for highly decentralized cotton textile industry in India .
  20. With growing scarcity of fossil fuels, the atomic energy is gaining more and more significance in India. Discuss the availability of raw material required for the generation of atomic energy in India and in the world.
  21. It is said the India has substantial reserves of shale oil and gas, which can feed the needs of country for quarter century. However, tapping of the resources doesn’t appear to be high on the agenda. Discuss critically the availability and issues involved. 
Make notes after looking into the syllabus ,past question papers and reference material.
Revise them three times atleast before you take up the exams.
Take mock tests to monitor your performace.

Good luck !
(This is a part of a series of blogs on IAS Exam simplified -like never before)

Here is the list of blogs in this series so far -

Here is the list of blogs ,on my experience as an IAS officer:

Bharat Darshan - the dream of every IAS aspirant.
One night at Flood Centre
My experience with a toothache

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  1. you had done such a novice things, sir! i used to heard about ur mock interview sessions , very effective! how can i miss u even lives around chennai.? looks forward to meet u !!!!

  2. Drop into the institute .Will be glad to help you in your preparation.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Nice work. Could u do similar analysis for paper 2 and 3?

    1. Hi Bharath ,
      Please do check the blog on GS Paper 3 .
      Paper 2 will be up shortly.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Sir, It is always suggested by everyone to read TH.But I found livemint better than TH.Nowayds TH it is more biased.Should I still read TH?

    1. The Hindu has been biased. However, they cover a lot of issues. So , The Hindu is prefered for picking up issues for preparation.