UPSC Prelims Modern History Prelims Previous Year Question Trend Analysis


Pre 2014

  1. The Partition of Bengal made by Lord Curzon in 1905 lasted until
  1. the First World War when Indian troops were needed by the British and the partition was ended.
  2. King George V abrogated Curzon’s Act at the Royal Darbar in Delhi in 1911
  3. Gandhiji launched his Civil Disobedience Movement
  4. the Partition of India, in 1947 when East Bengal became East Pakistan
  • All other options are absolutely bogus options
  • This was the 1st real victory of nationalist movement. British had to eat humble pie and annul the partition
  • In 1911 King George V visited India and  A royal durbar was held @Delhi
  • The capital of India is transferred from Calcutta to Delhi
  • It was held three times, in 1877, 1903, and 1911 and only the last time the sovereign attended it.
Learning – When was Queen Victoria proclaimed as empress of India? 1st Darbar and Great famine of 1876 -78 and Lord Lytton, Annulment of partition and its role in reunification of Congress
  1. The 1929 Session of Indian, National Congress is of significance in the history of the Freedom Movement because the
  1. attainment of Self-Government was declared as the objective of the Congress
  2. attainment of Poorna Swaraj Was adopted as the goal of the Congress
  3. Non-Cooperation Movement was launched
  4. decision to participate in the Round Table Conference in London was taken
  • Repeat, covered in titbits
  • Poorna swaraj goal
  • NCM was in 1920
  • Congress did not even participate in 1st RTC. This decision was taken after Gandhi- Irwin pact
Learning – Swaraj resolution, Poorna Swaraj resolution, Dominion status v/s Independent status
  1. The Ghadr (Ghadar) was a
  1. Revolutionary association of Indians with headquarters at San Francisco.
  2. nationalist organization operating from Singapore
  3. militant organization with headquarters at Berlin
  4. communist movement for India’s freedom with head-quarters at Tashkent
  • Simple question. On the east coast of USA, San Francisco. There was a newspaper/ pamphlet by similar name
  • This is a very important topic for this year as PM of Canada apologised officially for the incident
Learning – komagata maru incident, Canadian PM apology, failure of ghadar movement, name of most prominent leaders of this movement
  1. What was/were the object/objects of Queen Victoria’s Proclamation (1858)?
  1. To disclaim any intention to annex Indian States
  2. To place the Indian administration under the British Crown
  3. To regulate East India Company’s trade with India
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3
  • Regulation of trade had already been done. Now politically directly under crown
  • The announcement reversed Lord Dalhousie’s pre-war policy of political unification through princely state annexation <doctrine of lapse>
Learning – act of 1773, 1813 and this proclamation very important, Doctrine of lapse, first state to fall under doctrine of lapse, doctrine of subsidiary alliance, first state to fall prey to doctrine of subsidiary alliance, Contribution of Lord Dalhousie to India 
  1. The Radcliffe Committee was appointed to
  1. solve the problem of minorities in India
  2. give effect to the Independence Bill
  3. delimit the boundaries between India and Pakistan
  4. enquire into the riots in East Bengal
Simple – Radcliffe was the jurist hence the boundary known by his name
Learning – how was the decision to go to Pakistan or stay with India taken? McMahon line and Shimla accord, LOC v/s LAC v/s AGPL, Durand line

Prelims 2013

  1. With reference to Indian History, the Members of the Constituent Assembly from the Provinces were:
(a) directly elected by the people of those Provinces
(b) nominated by the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League
(c) elected by the Provincial Legislative Assemblies
(d) selected by the Government for their expertise in constitutional matters
  • Question repeated in CAPF 2016
  • Indirect election it was <one of the criticism that members were not even elected by people. In fact even members of provincial assembly who elected them were themselves elected by jut 10% of the voting age population as the Franchise was very limited>
Learning – Imp. committees of constituent assembly, Cabinet mission plan and interim cabinet
  1. The people of India agitated against the arrival of Simon Commission because
  1. Indians never wanted the review of the working of the Act of 1919
  2. Simon Commission recommended the abolition of  Dyarchy (Diarchy) in the Provinces
  3. there was no Indian member in the Simon Commission
  4. the Simon Commission suggested the partition of the country
Very simple, covered in titbit
Learning – Why did Simon commission even visited India, Recommendation of Simon commission, Nehru report in response to Simon commission, Controversy on Nehru Report, J.L. Nehru’s objection to Nehru report, Jinnah’s objection to Nehru report, Gandhi- Irwin pact
  1. Quit India Movement was launched in response to
  1. Cabinet Mission Plan
  2. Cripps Proposals
  3. Simon Commission Report
  4. Wavell Plan
  • Quit India movement was launched in aug 1942
  • Cabinet mission in 1946 -wrong
  • Wavell plan or Shimla conference – 1945 – wrong
  • Simon Comission report – after 1928, before 1932
  • Cripps mission – March 1942, answer is obvious
Learning – Cripps proposals, proposed dominion or independent status? Why did it fail? Why was Cripps even sent to India?, Post dated cheque on failing bank?, Failure of Wavell plan?, Learn sequence o events from 2nd world war carefully, august offer, Rajgoplachari plan, Mount Baton plan and all
  1. The demand for the Tebhaga Peasant Movement in Bengal was for
  1. the reduction of the share of the landlords from one-half of the crop to one-third
  2. the grant of ownership of land to peasants as they were the actual cultivators of the land
  3. the uprooting of Zamindari system and the end of serfdom
  4. writing off all peasant debts
  • Covered in titbit
  • tebhaga means 3 parts
  • in 1946 the sharecroppers of Bengal began to assert that they would no longer pay a half share of their crops to Jotedars but only 1/3rd and that before division
  • the crop would be stored in their khamars (Godowns) and not that of the Jotedars
Learning – important peasant revolts, working class movements, Bardoli Satyagaraha, Eka movement, Indigo revolt
  1. Annie Besant was
  1. responsible for starting the Home Rule Movement
  2. the founder of the Theosophical Society
  3. Once the President of the Indian National Congress
Select the correct statement/statements using the codes given below.
  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3
  • Tilak started Home Rule league in April 1916 while Annie Besant launched her Home Rule league in September 1916
  • Theosophical Society was founded by Madam Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott 1875.Annie Besant joined the team much later, in 1889
  • She was in fact 1st woman president of INC. This fact has been asked many times
Learning – Theosophical society, contribution of Annie Besant
  1. The Ilbert Bill controversy was related to the
  1. imposition restrictions the Indians of certain to carry arms by Indians
  2. imposition of restrictions on newspapers and magazines published in Indian languages
  3. removal of disqualifications imposed on the Indian magistrates with regard to the trial of the Europeans
  4. removal of a duty on imported cotton cloth
  • Earlier Indian judges could not try Europeans
  • The Illbert Bill (1883) of lord Rippon sought to empower the Indian judges to try Europeans in criminal cases.
Learning – Lord Rippon v/s Lord Lytoon, Vernacular press act, arms act, first factory act, Anglo – Afghan war, reforms brought by lord Rippon, reforms brought by lord Mayo

Modern Indian History has a very vast syllabus and now days not more than 7 – 8  <avg. 7 questions in last 5 years> questions are asked from that portion.

Weightage given since 2009

  • 2015 – 8
  • 2014 – 5
  • 2013 – 6
  • 2012 – 8
  • 2011 – 9
  • 2010 – 11
  • 2009 – 12
Most of the questions are very easy questions from oft – repeated topics. Our target should be not to do PhD on every topic but to get easy questions right. It’s important that reading should be purposeful not cover to cover reading of history books.
In this series, I shall discuss questions and explanations of last 7 years (2015 to 2009) prelims modern history section. Attempt has been made to solve the questions as one would do in exam hall i.e using elimination method, pausing and thinking at red flags (all, none, only, weird statements), applying some tikdams where necessary.
After every question, I have mentioned some learning objectives – things which are the most important  from exam point of view, things which have been asked again and again. You have to learn them all without any exception.

Key insights from the analysis 

There are almost 30-40 Questions get repeated each ear in IAS Prelims , same is expected in IAS Prelims 2016 
As The cutoff last year was 54 , clearing Prelims wont be an issue if you cover previous year questions .

  1. Average number of questions asked in last 5 years is 7 and almost every question is solvable with decent knowledge and logic
  2. Lots of questions and statements are repeated year after year<solve past 23 year history without fail>
  3. More than questions, topics are repeated year after year
  4. Even when you don’t know all the options, often answer wallh option is clearly visible <importance of reading all the options>
  5. UPSC doesn’t ask questions which need remembering very intricate yet very useless details <for instance, it wound’t ask number of members in Viceroy’s executive council or legislative council but broad details and trends should be known – number increasing or decreasing>

Most important topics

  1. Cabinet Mission plan, Cripss mission, GOI act 195, GOI act 1919, GOI act 1909, Victoria proclamation 1858, charter act of 1813, regulating act of 1773
  2. Quit India movement, Civil Disobedience movement, Non cooperation movement, Rowlatt Satyagraha, Swadeshi movement
  3. Gandhi’s first three movements
  4. Imp. sessions of congress <covered in titbits>
  5. Annie Besant, Sarojini Naidu, Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Arya Samaj
  6. Economic critque of colonialism
  7. Reforms of Lord Cornwallis
  8. Land revenue system – Zamindari, Ryoywari and Mahalwari
  9. Munda and Santhal revolt, Bardoi Satyagraha, Tebhagha and Telangana movement, Eka movement, Indigo movement
Summary of all the chapters of Modern India book by Spectrum Publication is must. You must learn every point written there by heart.

Once you have done that-

  1. Learn about imp. things about all governor generals <spectrum ready reckoners>
  2.  Arrival of Portuguese, French, Dutch and British <OLD NCERT modern India 1st 2 chapters would do>
  3. Peasant, Tribal and Working class revolts, Lower class movement <Periyar, Vaikom Satyagraha, Narayan Guru, Satyashidha Samaj, Ambedkar>
  4. Socio – religious reform movement <go through the summary plus all the facts about Ram Mohan Roy, Dayanand Saraswati >
In this series we would be covering past 7 years papers <59 questions>. History being history does not change with time. So, you would be best served if you could at least solve the history portion of prelims from 1993 onward. There would be some 150 questions and they would serve you better than any prelims test series of this world.
Without taking any more time, let’s look at modern history portion of prelims 2015
1. With reference to Rowlatt Satyagraha, which of the following statements is/are correct?
    1. The Rowlatt Act was based on the recommendations of the ‘Sedition Committee’
    2. In Rowlatt Satyagraha Gandhiji tried to use the Home Rule League
    3. Demonstrations against the Simon Commission coincided with the Rowlatt Satyagraha
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
  • Rowlatt act is asked time and time again
  • You know Rowlatt act protests happened in 1919 (jalliah wallah bagh) while Simon commission came to see the workings of GOI Act, 1919 in 1928 so 3rd is wrong. Eliminate 3rd
  • Now look at 2, home rule league movement started in 1916 and Gandhiji did use volunteers of home rule league
Learning – Rowlatt act, Jalliah Wallah bagh massacres, Himalayan blunder
2. Who of the following was/were economic critic/critics of colonialism in India?
    1. Dadabhai Naoroji
    2. Subramania Iyer
    3. C. Dutt
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
  • Again multiple times it has been asked. Naoroji and Dutt you all know.
  • 1 and 3 only in 1 option
  • This question was asked in CAPF 2016 also <indirect repeat, books written were asked>
Learning – books written by Nairoji and Dutt
  1. With reference to Congress Socialist Party, consider the following statements:
    1. It advocated the boycott of British goods and evasion of taxes.
    2. It wanted to establish the dictatorship of proletariat.
    3. It advocated separate electorate for minorities and oppressed classes.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 3 only
(c) 1, 2 and 3
(d) None
  • Separate electorate were demanded only by Muslim league and Ambedkar
  • No party would advice evasion of taxes. As a protest, it can ask you not to pay taxes or not to pay illegal due but not to evade that is hide and not pay taxes
  • CSP is not communistic but socialist so no question of dictatorship
Learning – Formation of Congress socialist party, formation of Swarajya party, formation of liberal party , their leaders, point of differences with main congress party
  1. The Government of India Act of 1919 clearly defined
(a) the separation of power between the judiciary and the legislature
(b)the jurisdiction of the central and provincial governments
(c)the powers of the Secretary of State for India and the Viceroy
(d)None of the above
  • A and c are bogus options
  • It introduced dyarchy in states. So among provincial subject, some transferred to popularly elected ministers in state. As there was a provincial list, it defined jurisdiction of central and provincial govt
  • Covered in titbit
Learning – GOI act 1909, 1919 and 1935
  1. Who of the following organized a march on the Tanjore coast to break the Salt Law in April 1930?
(a) V.O Chidambaram Pillai
(b) C. Rajagopalachari
(c) K. Kamaraj
(d) Annie Besant
  • You have to remember the name, Dandi march is way too important
  • BTW, V.O.C.P had differences with Gandhi and had withdrawn from congress in 1920, more of a labor leader later
6. Consider the following statements :
  1. The first woman President of the Indian National Congress was Sarojini Naidu.
  2. The first Muslim President of the Indian National Congress was Badruddin Tyabji
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
  • Repeat question.
  • In 2014, question about Annie besant was asked and one of the statement was that she was the 1st woman president which is true
  • 2nd statement is true
  • Both covered in titbit
Learning – Give special focus to contribution of women
7. With reference to cabinet mission, which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. It recommended a federal government.
  2. It enlarged the powers of the Indian courts.
  3. It provided for more Indians in the ICS
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3
(c) 1 and 3
(d) None
  • B and c are bogus options
  • More or less Indians in ICS, these were the battles fought before Gandhi came on the scene.
  • There was already federal govt under GOI act, 1935. It also provided for federal govt with very weak centre to assuage concerns of League
  • Cabinet mision plan is asked again and again
Learning – 5 pointers on cabinet mission and Cripps mission and differences
8. Which one of the following movements has contributed to a split in the Indian National Congress resulting in emergence of ‘moderates’ and ‘extremists’?
(a) Swadeshi Movement
(b) Quit India Movement
(c) Non-Cooperation Movement
(d) Civil Disobedient Movement
  • Repeat
  • Swadeshi movement led to Surat split in 1907
  • What were the main issues of conflict in swadeshi b/W moderates and extremist
  • What led to reunification of Congress
  • Why did liberal party separate from Congress
Learning – Swadeshi – boycott movement, 1906 Calcutta session and 4 resolutions, Politics played by moderates there, Formation of Muslim League, Split in congress, annulment of Partition in 1911

There are almost 30-40 Questions get repeated each ear in IAS Prelims , same is expected in IAS Prelims 2016 
As The cutoff last year was 54 , clearing Prelims wont be an issue if you cover previous year questions .