UPSC Mains Subject Wise PYQs – Modern History (2023-2013)

Aspirants preparing for the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) are aware of the significance of Modern Indian History in the Mains Examination. It is one of the most crucial subjects that demands a comprehensive understanding of the social, political, and economic events that shaped India’s modern history. In recent years, the Modern Indian History section has become a scoring subject, and a lot of questions are asked in the Mains Examination.

To help aspirants prepare better, we have compiled the Modern Indian History mains questions from the past decade (2013-2023) in this blog. This will help you get a better idea of the type of questions asked in the examination, the level of difficulty, and the areas that need more focus. With this comprehensive list of questions, you can analyze the pattern, understand the key concepts, and identify the areas that require more attention, thereby enhancing your preparation for the Mains Examination.


  • What was the difference between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore in their approach towards education and nationalism?
  • How did colonial rule affect the tribals in India and what was the tribal response to the colonial oppression?


  • Why was there a sudden spurt in famines in colonial India since the mid-eighteenth century? Give reasons.
  • Why did the armies of the British East India Company – mostly comprising of Indian soldiers – win consistently against the more numerous and better equipped armies of the then Indian rulers ? Give reasons.


  • Trace the rise and growth of socio-religious reform movements with special reference to Young Bengal and Brahmo Samaj.
  • To what extinct did the role of moderates prepare a base for the wider freedom movement? comment
  • Bring out the constructive programmes of Mahatma Gandhi during Non-Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement.


  • Evaluate the policies of Lord Curzon and their long-term implications on the national movement. 
  • Since the decade of the 1920s, the national movement acquired various ideological strands and thereby expanded its social base. Discuss.


  • The 1857 Uprising was the culmination the recurrent big and small local rebellions that had occurred in the preceding hundred years of British rule. Elucidate.
  • Examine the linkages between 19th centuries ‘Indian Renaissance’ and the emergence of national identity.
  • Many voices had strengthened and enriched the nationalist movement during the Gandhian phase. Elaborate.
  • Assess the role of British imperial power in complicating the process of transfer of power during the 1940s.


  • Throw light on the significance of thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi in the present times.
  • Why indentured labour was taken by British from India to other colonies? Have they been able to preserve their cultural identity over there?


  • Clarify how mid-eighteenth century India was beset with the spectre of a fragmented polity?
  • Why did the ‘Moderates’ fail to carry conviction with the nation about their proclaimed ideology and political goals by the end of the nineteenth century?
  • Examine how the decline of traditional artisanal industry in colonial India crippled the rural economy.
  • Highlight the importance of new objective that got added to the vision of Indian independence since the twenties of the last century.
  • The women’s questions arose in modern India as a part of the 19th century social reform movement. What were the major issues and debates concerning women in that period?


  • Explain how the upraising of 1857 constitutes an important watershed in the evolution of British policies towards colonial India.
  • Discuss the role of women in the freedom struggle especially during the Gandhian phase.
  • Highlight the difference in the approach of Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for freedom.


  • How different would have been the achievement of Indian independence without Mahatma Gandhi? Discuss.
  • Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, despite having divergent approaches and strategies, had a common goal of amelioration of the downtrodden. Elucidate.
  • It would have been difficult for the Constituent Assembly to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India in just three years but for the experience gained with the Government of India Act, 1935. Discuss.


  • The third battle of Panipat was fought in 1761. Why were so many empire-shaking battles fought at Panipat?
  • Examine critically the various facets of economic policies of the British in India from mid-eighteenth century till independence.
  • In what ways did the naval mutiny prove to be the last nail in the coffin of British colonial aspirations in India?
  • What were the major political, economic and social developments in the world which motivated the anti-colonial struggle in India?


  • Defying the barriers of age, gender, and religion, the Indian women became the torch-bearer during the struggle for freedom in India. Discuss.
  • Several foreigners made India their homeland and participated in various movements. Analyze their role in the Indian struggle for freedom.
  • “In many ways, Lord Dalhousie was the founder of modern India.” Elaborate.
  • Critically discuss the objectives of Bhoodan and Gramdan Movements initiated by Acharya Vinoba Bhave and their success.

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