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UPSC CSE Mains 2020 Detailed Syllabus: GS Paper-I (Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society)

The UPSC CSE Mains Examination 2020 will be conducted by the Union Public Service Commission from 8 January, 2021. The Mains Syllabus of UPSC consists of four GS Papers, Essay and two Optional papers. All the Mains papers are descriptive.

As we know that the Mains Examination is the second phase of the Civil Services Examination. When a candidate successfully qualifies the UPSC prelims examination then he or she would be allowed to write the IAS Mains Examination.

The academic talent of the candidate in depth is tested in the Mains exam and his or her ability to present the understanding as per the requirements of the question in a time-bound manner. The UPSC CSE Mains exam consists of 9 papers in total, out of which two are qualifying papers of 300 marks each.

In this article, we are going to discuss the detailed Syllabus of GS Paper-I which constitutes Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society.

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UPSC CSE Mains GS Paper-I Syllabus

Indian Culture covers salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Modern Indian History from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

The Freedom Struggle covers various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.

Post-independence Consolidation and Reorganization within the country.

History of the World includes events from 18th century like Industrial Revolution, world wars, Redrawal of National Boundaries, Colonization, Decolonization, political philosophies like Communism, Capitalism, Socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.

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.

Salient features of World’s Physical Geography.

Distribution of Key Natural Resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).

Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

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UPSC CSE Mains GS Paper-I Detailed Syllabus (Indian Heritage and Culture)

Indian Art Forms

Indian Paintings

Classical Dance Forms

Folk Dance Forms

Classical Music




Martial Arts


Ancient Indian Literature

Classical Sanskrit Literature

Literature in Pali and Prakrit

Early Dravidian Literature

Medieval Literature

Women Poets of Bhakti

Trends in Medieval Literature

Modern Indian Literature


Harappan Architecture

Temple Architecture

Cave Architecture

Indo-Islamic Architecture

Medieval Architecture

Modern Architecture

Contribution of Buddhism & Jainism to the Development of Indian Architecture

Rock Cut Architecture

Colonial Architecture & the Modern Period

UPSC CSE Mains GS Paper-I Detailed Syllabus (Modern Indian History)

Middle of the Eighteenth Century until The Present

Socio-economic Condition of People

European Penetration of India

British Conquest of India

British Policies & Their Impact – Economic, Administrative & Socio-cultural

Socio-cultural Reform Movements

Uprisings Against British Pre-1857

The Freedom Struggle

Revolt of 1857

Growth of Nationalism in India (1858-1905)

Political, Economic & Administrative Unification of the Country

Role of Western Education

Role of Press

Rediscovery of India’s Past

Early Political Movements

Formation of INC

Era of Moderates

Growth of Militant Nationalism & Revolutionary Activities (1905-1918)

Swadeshi & Boycott Movement

Surat Split

International Influence

Morley – Minto Reforms

Growth of Communalism

Beginning of Mass Nationalism (1919-1939)

Mahatma Gandhi – His Ideas & Leadership

Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms

Rowlatt Act, Satyagrah and Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Non-cooperation & Khilafat Movement

Swarajists & No-Changers

The emergence of New Forces – Socialistic Ideas, Youth & Trade Unionism

Revolutionary Activity

Simon Commission & Nehru Report

Civil Disobedience Movement

Round Table Conferences

Communal Award & Poona Pact

Participation in Elections to Central Legislature (1934) & Provincial Assemblies (1937)

Government of India Act, 1935

Towards Freedom & Partition (1939-1947)

National Movement During World War II

August Offer

Individual Satyagraha

Growth of Communalism

Peasant Movements

State People’s Struggle

Cripps Mission

Quit India Movement

Wavell Plan

INA & Subhash Chandra Bose

Cabinet Mission

Nationalist Upsurge Post-World War II

Independence with Partition

UPSC CSE Mains 2020 Detailed Syllabus: GS Paper-I (Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society)_40.1

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UPSC CSE Mains GS Paper-I Detailed Syllabus (Post-independence Consolidation)

Nation Building

Partition and Its Aftermath

Integration of Princely States

Reorganisation of States

Issue of Official Language

Tribal Consolidation

Regional Aspirations

Foreign Policy

Non-Aligned Movement


Wars with Pakistan & China

Nuclear Policy


Planned Development

Green Revolution, Operation Flood & Cooperatives

Agrarian & Land Reforms

Industrial Reforms

LPG Reforms


The era of One-Party Dominance

The emergence of Opposition Parties

Emergency: Crisis of Democratic Order

Rise of Regional Parties

Coalition Era


Popular Movements


Indian Women Since Independence


UPSC CSE Mains GS Paper-I Detailed Syllabus (History of the World)

Industrial Revolution


Discovery of Sea Routes



European Nations Settle North America

Rise of the Slave Trade

American War of Independence

French Revolution

Nationalism in Europe

Rise of Capitalism, Colonialism & Imperialism

World War I

Causes of the War

Scope & Course of the War

Russian Revolution

End of the War & Peace Treaties

Consequences of the War

League of Nations

World Between the Two Wars

Europe After the War – Fascism & Nazism

The Great Depression

The emergence of Soviet Union

Nationalist Movements in Asia & Africa

US as a Strong Power

World War II

Fascist Aggression & Response of Western Democracies

Outbreak of the War

Theatres of the War

US Entry into the War

Global Nature of the War

The Holocaust

Resistance Movements

After-effects of the War

Decolonisation & Redrawal of National Boundaries

Europe after World War II

Cold War

Rise of Asia & Africa

Developments in West Asia & North Africa

Spread of Communism

Korean War

Vietnam War

Cuban Crisis

Collapse of Soviet Union

Concept, Types & Social Impact of Political Philosophies




Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 18 November, 2020

UPSC CSE Mains GS Paper-I Detailed Syllabus (Geography)


Origin & Evolution of Earth

Interior of the Earth

Distribution of Continents & Oceans

Tectonic Plate Theory

Distribution of Earthquakes & Volcanoes

Landforms & their Evolution



Earth’s Atmosphere – Composition & Structure

Solar Radiation, Heat Budget & Temperature

Atmospheric Circulation & Weather Systems

World Climate

Geography of Soil

Natural Resource

Land Resources

Forest Resources

Water Resources

Mineral & Energy Resources

Agricultural Resources

Natural Disasters





UPSC CSE Mains GS Paper-I Detailed Syllabus (Indian Society)

Salient Features of Indian Society

Diversity (Types – caste, linguistic, social and religious, race, tribe and ethnicity, culture)

Challenges posed by Diversity



Unity in Diversity

Inequality and Exclusion

Family System and Examples.

Role of Women and Women’s Organization

Women’s Organisations – Empowerment through Action

19th Century Social Reform Movements and Early Women’s Organisations – (1) Agrarian Struggles and Revolt, (2) Participation in Freedom Struggle

Women’s Organisations Post – 1947

Resurgence of Women’s Movement in the 70s: (1) Emergence of New Organisations, (2) Approaches and Issues

Contemporary Women’s Issues & Organisation Response

Women’s Organisations and SHGs

Challenges faced by Women’s Organisations

Population and Associated Issues

Basic Demography of India

Population Trends in India and their Implications

Causes and Effects of Over Population

Challenges of Population Explosion

Changing Age Structure of Indian Population

Demographic Dividend: Boon or Bane for India

Population Aging in India

India’s Population Policy & Initiatives

Poverty and Developmental Issues

Concept of Development and Poverty

Types of Poverty

Measurement of Poverty – Poverty Line

Causes of Poverty

Poverty as a Social Problem

Socio-economic Spread of Poverty

Consequences of Poverty –


Continuation of Vicious Cycle

Who are worst affected by poverty?

Problem of Rising Urban Poverty

Poverty Alleviation Initiatives

Policy shift from “Trickle Down” Economics to Inclusive or Pro-poor Development to Reduce Poverty

Relation between Poverty Reduction and Development: Poverty-Inequality-Development Nexus


Urbanisation Trends in India and Their Implications – Demographic and Social Dimensions

Factors Driving Urbanisation

State of Service Delivery and Challenges posed by Urbanisation

Problems of Urban Areas

Social Consequences of Urbanisation

Impact of Urbanisation in Rural Areas

Urban Planning and Role of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs)

Reforms Required and Government Initiatives Taken So Far

Problems of Slums

Effects of Globalization on Indian Society

Understanding Globalisation – Its Different Dimensions

Globalisation & Culture – Homogenisation vs. Glocalisation

Factors Driving Globalisation

Globalisation & India

Impact of Globalisation on India – Socio-cultural, economic, on women, agrarian sector etc.

Does Globalisation cause Poverty?

Social Empowerment



Concept of Region & Regionalism

Different Forms of Regionalism

Regionalism in India

Causes of Regionalism

Concept of ‘Sons of Soil’

Consequences of Regionalism

Federalism & Regionalism

Role of Regional Parties

Measures to Contain Regionalism

Regionalism in the International Sphere


Concept of Secularism

Indian Model of Secularism

Secularism in India

Nature & Practice of Secularism in India

Uniform Civil Code

Challenges faced by Secularism in India

Measures to Make India Truly Secular

UPSC CSE Mains GS Paper-I: Structure

Mains GS Paper-I will consist of 20 questions and need to be attempted in 3 hours time span. GS Paper-I is of total 250 marks with questions of 10 and 15 marks weightage. For 10 marks questions word limit will be 150 and for 15 marks 250 words.

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