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Best General Studies Books and Syllabus for UPSC IAS

UPSC is an exam which is held in India. It is considered as one of the toughest exams in the country. Candidates have to work hard to pass this. But candidates with a good understanding and syllabus knowledge, they can pass it easily. There are 48 optional subjects where anyone can choose their subjects. General Studies Optional Books For IAS However everyone who is facing the exam needs to follow a good studying strategy to earn a high score.

‘General studies’ is a highlighting subject among the UPSC exam subjects. UPSC exam is conducted in three phases. Preliminary exam, main exam and the personality development test. The UPSC Civil Services Prelims has two papers as General Studies-1 and General Studies-2.

General Studies Optional Books for UPSC Exam

To go through all of these vast subject matter and topics every aspirant must have a way to learn those study matters. For that, they can find so many books on the market where they describe the above topics in detail. So using those books, aspirants can go through the whole syllabus and dive deep into them. Some of the most important books to refer are:-

List of Best General Studies Optional Books for IAS

  • Indian Polity – by M. Laxmikanth
  • Important Acts that Transformed India – by Alex Andrews George
  • Important Judgments that Transformed India – by Alex Andrews George
  • Indian Art and Culture – by Nitin Singhania
  • Ancient and Medieval India – by Poonam Dalal Dahiya
  • Modern Indian History – by Sonali Bansal and Snehil Tripathi
  • Certificate Physical And Human Geography – by Goh Cheng Leong
  • Geography of India – by Majid Husain
  • Oxford Student Atlas for India
  • Indian Economy – by Ramesh Singh
  • Indian Economy – by Nitin Singhania
  • Indian Economy Key Concepts – by Sankarganesh Karuppiah
  • Science and Technology – by Ravi P. Agrahari
  • Environment – By Shankar IAS
  • India 2020 Yearbook – by Rajiv Mehrishi
  • The Malayala Manorama English Yearbook 2020 – by Mammen Mathew
  • India 2020 – Publications Division Paperback – by Publications Division
  • 25 Years UPSC IAS/ IPS Prelims Topic-wise Solved Papers 1 & 2 (1995-2019)
  • General Studies Manual Paper-1 2020 Paperback – by Manohar Pandey
  • Cracking the CSAT Paper-2 – by Arihant Experts
  • Selected Contemporary Essays Paperback – by Saumitra Mohan
  • 151 Essays – by Disha Experts
  • Post-Independence India: For Civil Services Examinations – by Sonali Bansal and Snehil Tripathi
  • World History – by Krishna Reddy
  • Indian Society: Themes and Social Issues – by Nadeem Hasnain
  • Governance in India Paperback – by M. Laxmikanth
  • International Relations – by Pavneet Singh
  • Challenges to Internal Security of India – by Ashok Kumar and Vipul Anekant
  • Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for IAS General Studies – by Niraj Kumar
  • Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude – by M. Karthikeyan
  • Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude – by G Subba Rao & P N Roy Chowdhury
  • IAS Mains General Studies Manual General Studies Paper 1 – by Arihant
  • IAS Mains General Studies Manual General Studies Paper 2 – by Arihant
  • IAS Mains General Studies Manual General Studies Paper 3 – by Arihant
  • IAS Mains General Studies Manual General Studies Paper 4 – by Arihant
  • 7 Years UPSC IAS/ IPS Mains General Studies Papers 1 – 4 Year-wise Solved (2013 – 2019) – by Disha Experts
  • 7 Years UPSC IAS/ IPS Mains Essay Year-wise Solved Papers (2013 – 2019) – by Disha Experts
  • How to Ace Civil Service Interviews Paperback – by Remya Roshni
  • Ancient India: India’s Ancient Past by R.S. Sharma
  • Ancient India: History of Ancient and Early Medieval India by Upinder Singh
  • Medieval India: History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
  • Modern India: History of Modern India by Bipan Chandra.
  • Modern India: India’s Struggle For Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • Ancient India and Culture: The Wonder That Was India by A.L. Bhasham
  • Modern India: A Brief History of Modern India by Rajiv Ahir
  • World Geography: World Geography by Majid Husain
  • Physical Geography: Physical Geography by Savindra Singh
  • Human Geography: Human Geography by Majid Husain
  • Constitution: Introduction to the Constitution of India by D. D. Basu
  • Science and Technology: Science and Technology by Sheelwant Singh
  • Environment: Environmental Studies: From Crisis to Cure by Rajagopalan
  • Environment: Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains by Khuller
  • Reasoning: Analytical Reasoning by M. K. Pandey
  • Reasoning: Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning by R. S.Aggarwal
  • Essay: Essays for Civil Services by Pulkit Khare
  • Post-Independence: India Since Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • Post-Independence: India After Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha
  • World History: History of the World by Arjun Dev
  • World History: Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe
  • World History: Modern World History by Uddipan
  • Indian Society: Social Problems In India by Ram Ahuja
  • Indian Society: Indian Society by Senthil
  • Governance: Governance in India by M.Karthikeyan
  • International Relations: Pax Indica by Shashi Tharoor
  • International Relations: India and the World by Surendra Kumar
  • International Relations: The India way by S. Jaishankar
  • Internal Security: Internal Security by M.Karthikeyan
  • Internal Security: India’s National Security: A Reader by Bajpai
  • Ethics: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude by Awdesh Singh
  • Ethics: Ethical Dilemmas of a Civil Servant by Anil Swarup

UPSC syllabus for prelims

General studies syllabus for UPSC exam paper-1

  1. Current Events of National and International Importance.
  1. History of India and Indian National Movement.
  1. Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  1. Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  1. Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
  1. General Issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization General Science

General studies syllabus for UPSC exam paper-2

  1. Comprehension
  1. Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  1. Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  1. Decision-making and problem solving
  1. General mental ability
  1. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc., – Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc., – Class X level)

UPSC syllabus for Main exam

Paper-1 | Essay

Aspirants must write the answers for essay type questions in detail. They are free to write their answers describing the facts and examples. Marks are offered according to the relevancy and the quality of the answer.


General Studies-I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.

  1. Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature & Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  1. Modern Indian History from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
  1. The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
  1. Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
  1. History of the World will include events from the 18th century, such as the Industrial Revolution, World Wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc., – their forms and effects on the society.
  1. Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Role of women and women’s organizations, 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.
  1. Salient features of the world’s physical geography.
  1. 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, cyclones, 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.


General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations.

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions, and basic structure.
  1. Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  1. Separation of powers between various organs,dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  1. Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries, Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  1. Structure, organization, and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary, Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
  1. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
  1. Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions, and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
  1. Statutory, regulatory, and various quasi-judicial bodies, Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  1. Development processes and the development industry – the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Center and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  1. Issues related to development and management of Social Sector/Services in the field of Health, Education, Human Resources.
  1. Issues related to poverty and hunger.
  1. Important aspects of governance, transparency, and accountability, e-governance – applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  1. Role of Civil Services in a democracy.
  1. India and its neighborhood – relations. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.


General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.

  1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  1. Government Budgeting. Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints;
  1. E-technology in the aid of farmers Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices;
  1. Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
  1. Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
  1. Land reforms in India. Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
  1. Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
  1. Investment models. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievement of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  1. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management.
  1. Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  1. Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
  1. Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
  1. Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate


General Studies- IV: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude

  1. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
  1. Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behavior; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  1. Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service , integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.
  1. Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance. Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world.
  1. Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.
  1. Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity;
  1. Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption. Case Studies on above issues.


Optional paper 1


Optional paper 2

Every aspirant must go through the whole General studies syllabus to take a good understanding about the subject matter. The above list of books will surely be helpful to go through each topic separately and will also be helpful in clearing any doubts left. At the same time, every aspirant must have a perfect studying strategy if they want to go for a higher mark. Working according to a time table is very helpful in this case. They can divide the subject matter between time periods and study them accordingly.

Going through the past year papers is also a good decision which comes along with the idea of reading books related to the subject. Every aspirant must finish the syllabus before the exam and after that they can go through those past year papers. They can test their knowledge on the general studies by doing so. If they can correct their answers on their own, it is a great way to understand the failures and correct them. This method will also be helpful to understand the paper structure and the question structure. So they won’t get any confusion while facing the exam papers. Whatever an aspirant does, it is a must to go through each and every topic separately. And they must read the subject related books to elaborate the answers they write during the exam with detailed descriptions and examples. Studying is the only way of passing this exam. So the aspirants need to face the exam with a good knowledge about the whole subject.

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