TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Chitra Mishra Rank 20, CSE 2018- History Optional (Paper II) – 300/500 !!

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  • July 16, 2019
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TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Chitra Mishra Rank 20, CSE 2018- History Optional (Paper II) – 300/500 !!


On behalf of the student community, we would like to thank Chitra Mishra, Rank 20 for sharing her History Optional (Paper II) Notes and Strategy with IASbaba, so that it would benefit many aspirants who are preparing for Mains with History as their Optional. It’s a Kind Gesture and very few people do this. 

“When we share, we open doors to a new beginning.”
― Paul Bradley Smith 


The 34 page PDF (available for Download) below, gives you a comprehensive strategy, Notes, Sources Chitra had referred to. If your Optional is History make the best use of it, if not kindly share it with your friend’s who are giving Mains with the same Optional.

Strategy on HISTORY OPTIONAL (Paper I) will be shared soon.


Detailed Strategy for Paper II – History Optional

History optional strategy requires a renewed analysis, delineating the topics, previous year paper analysis, and detailed strategy; 

  • History optional has acquired a fossil-like significance and format post 2013-14. This is due to the fact students who zero down on taking up history as optional has very limited and specific institutes. 

One being Insight IAS Academy under Baliyan Sir at Karol Bagh and The Study by Manikant Singh Sir, for Hindi Medium at Mukherjee Nagar- remains two major go-to-site for any beginner in the initial phase. Both these institutes are relevant and exam-oriented, to a large extent. However, simple enrollment to these would be partial and insufficient and one-dimensional, if one aims to score 300 +. 

  • Study material for this optional is very extensive, scattered, diverse. In other words, it is far from being to-the-point, concise and organized to handle those crucial 500 marks effectively. While one standard option is to read exclusively the class notes given by these institutes, other option is clearly the more challenging one- to plan, prepare and review your strategy as per the changes in UPSC optional paper requirements; 
  • Nonetheless, the relevance and importance of this optional is further enhanced due to its components in General Studies -1 and Prelims. 

There are two specific purpose of writing this particular post. 

During my course of preparation, there was a lot of resource material at hand and readings across, study material. As an enthusiastic aspirant, you tend to quickly hoard material- of all the possible, probable, potential books from the list of books. 

In the first part of my post, I try to substantiate the co-relation between books and topic in the History syllabus. 

Secondly, the purpose also would be to analyze if the sub-sections have been asked in last 5 years (2014-18) and if so, can the material, notes and ideas help us to tackle those? 

The central idea behind this post is to also analyse the themes/topics on the basis of last few years of question paper pattern of UPSC. This would act as ready reckoner for future History optional aspirants

This section will be useful for those of you interested in the preparation strategy of General Studies Paper 1 as well as importantly for Paper II in History Optional for 250 marks. I scored 169/250 in this paper CSE – 2018. In this post, I wish to analyse the syllabus- reading list and include my handwritten and word notes which was instrumental in scoring higher in Paper 2. 


Few general points:

  1. The idea is not to let yourself get lost in multiple sources, resource material, reference books.
  2. Our main guide to this section & the central basis must be the topics clearly articulated in the syllabus.
  3. Utmost care should be taken that – while one has clear, understanding on the factual content, equal emphasis should also be to link, analyse the topics in logical manner with continuities.
  4. Flowcharts, Maps can be extremely instrumental to handle 10-mark questions.
  5. Statement based questions can be prepared to a large extent by following UPSC last 25 years question papers. Do have a copy of previous year papers.



Modern India – Part A

How to approach Modern Indian History:

This is perhaps the most important segment in the History optional preparation

  • Prelims section (usually 12-15 questions)
  • GS -1 (4-5 questions)
  • 125 marks of Part A of Paper II of History Optional;


Books Referred for Modern Indian History Segment:

Assuming such a crucial significance of the Modern Indian section, one must be very clear about the sources. During the course of my preparation, I made summary notes and here, attached the pdf of the chapters of two most important books suggested for history optional aspirants-

  • Shekhar Bandhopadhyay’s Link attached –  Plassey to Partition Summary Notes
  • Bipan Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence 1857-1947 (Specific Chapters summary) is attached. 
  • Bipan Chandra- India Since Independence for last few topics (Chapters mentioned) and a 200 page summary of India After Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha ( for those of you interested in this section)
  • Selected notes from IGNOU ( Social Reforms section, Industrialization, Permanent Settlement, Peasant and Tribal Uprising notes – attached along the topics );
  • Specific chapters from 32nd edition of A new look at Modern Indian History – From 1707 to the Modern Times- B.L Grover and Alka Mehta, S. Chand Publication; I used this book in a selective manner. Some of the chapters are required to tackle those areas which are not quite the popular NCERT prelims- and GS mains topics and yet from optional paper and 10 marks- compulsory section, it becomes extremely crucial.

One segment in this book, enables you to understand the narrative of Governor Generals

  • Chapter 7– Clive’s Second Governorship of Bengal, 1765-1767;
  • Chapter 8, Warren Hastings;
  • Chapter 9, Cornwallis;
  • Chapter 10, Lord Wellesley;
  • Chapter 12, Lord Hastings;
  • Chapter 14, Lord Bentinck;
  • Chapter 18, Dalhousie;
  • Chapter 24, Lytton and Ripon;
  • Chapter 25, Lord Curzon;

Second segment in specific is about:

  • Chapter 4– Anglo-French Rivalry in the Carnatic and Chapter 6– Career and Achievements of Dupleix;
  • Chapter 2 and 3– Marathas – Achievements of the Early Peshwas and Marathas Administration under the Peshwas and
  • Chapter 13– Anglo-Maratha Struggle for Supremacy;
  • Chapter 11– Anglo-Mysore,
  • Chapter 15– Sind;
  • Chapter 16 & 17– Anglo-Sikh;
  • Chapter 26– Anglo-Afghan &
  • Chapter 27– North-West Frontier;

Third segment which can be selectively referred are

  • Chapter 21– Tribal revolts, Civil Rebellions, popular Movements and Mutinies, 1757-1856 &
  • Chapter 37– Peasant Revolts and Agrarian Movements
  • For a selected 10-mark question on Famine policy, Chapter 38 – The development of famine policy;

Finally, the reason this book would be useful is its introductory statement-based facts, right at the beginning of each chapter. Some of them are asked in previous year CSE exam. For example, Chapter 15 Annexation of Sind, Page 132 (Statement of Sir Charles Napier).


World History – Part B


General Sources:

  1. IGNOU B.A selected chapters. In addition, I have attached few theoretical chapters from M.A (on Imperialism, Colonialism, Total War). The latter is however optional for reading.
  2. Norman Lowe – Selected chapters for the second half of syllabus; This is a good source for 1900-1991 and beyond.
  3. A Study of Modern Europe and the World 1815-1950 by Mukherjee. This is meant to be read and not made notes. It is like a good revision for narrative; This book should be read for chapters like
  • Part 1- Congress of Vienna1815, Eastern Question (Part I- Chapter III, V,X, Part II, chapter IV),
  • Part II, chapter VIII – United Nations Organisation and
  • Part III section for Middle Egypt, Arab Nationalism, China, Japan, South-East Asia and finally, for USA section, chapter V entirely).  Link of the book;
  1. Arjun Dev’s- Contemporary World History- Old NCERT Class XII book. Again, this book is only meant for basic reading for later half of syllabus.
  2. Wikipedia for factual clarity. I prepared sections of Locarno Pact, Inter-war treaties from here too.


For Detailed Topic Analysis and Strategy of HISTORY OPTIONAL (Paper II) -> Click here


Thank You

Chitra Mishra Rank 20, CSE 2018

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