December 1, 2021 5:08:56 pm
– Shubra Ranjan
The syllabus for UPSC Prelims exam covers ancient India, medieval India as well as modern History. World History appears only in the UPSC Mains examination and is an important part of the General Studies Paper 1. The syllabus includes topics such as industrial revolution, world wars, colonization and decolonization, political philosophies such as capitalism, socialism, communism, etc.
The syllabus may certainly seem vast and to an extent, it certainly is so. The strategy shall depend on the optional subjects chosen by the candidates. Those who have History or Political Science and international relations as optional, already cover a good portion of world History. Those with other subjects like Physics, Mathematics, English Literature etc must prepare ‘World History’ separately.
There is no need to read any book to cover it, rather do a judicious selective reading. Notes by the institutes are highly reliable because the teachers follow the trend and are in the best position to guide the students in their preparation. Rely on NCERT history textbooks, you may refer to ‘Mastering Modern World History’ by Norman Lowe.
There are generally one or two questions from World History in the GS I paper. However, when every single mark counts towards securing a final rank, it is imperative to give your best shot.
It has been observed that two types of questions are generally asked in this section. The question may be either very simple or something completely unexpected. Those belonging to the former category include questions based on World War, Industrial Revolution, French Revolution etc.
And then there are those which completely stump the aspirants. For instance, What problems are germane to the decolonization process in the Malay Peninsula? (2017); The anti-colonial struggles in West Africa were led by the new elite of Western-educated Africans. Examine. (2016).
In such cases, one has to rely on his foundational knowledge and has to do interlinking. Make your notes in chronological order, establish connections between facts/dates/events. Develop your own perspective by studying the causes of historical events and their results.
Some successful candidates have also resorted to the reverse process. They prepared World History by gathering the test series questions and preparing only the questions asked therein. However, it involves an element of a gamble.
Ideally, a candidate must prepare for World History before the Prelims and then revisit the notes before the Mains examination. Be mindful of approaching the topics analytically and conceptually. Not factually as it is not part of the Prelims exam, but the Mains exam.
Also, look for anniversaries and centenaries of important world events. For instance, NAM has just completed 60 years and the UN completed 75 years in 2020. Look for countries and events in news – such as Taiwan, Ukraine, Afghanistan. The strategy for World History preparation is simple and if followed well ensures you’ll tide by with ease.
(The author is Co-Founder and Head (Pedagogy), Shubhra Viraj EduTech Private Limited)