Best Books for UPSC Prelims

Best Books for UPSC: The Union Public Service Commission – Civil Services Examination (UPSC-CSE) is one of the toughest exams to crack in the world. It is a prestigious exam held annually and is attempted by lakhs of students each year. This means that the competition for around 800-odd seats is intense, with each year witnessing a rise in the number of applications. Additionally, the limited number of attempts for applicants belonging to General and OBC further strains the students. Thus, it is important to study for UPSC – CSE only from the best books. This article presents you with the Best Books for UPSC. 

Best Books for UPSC

List of Best Books for UPSC – Prelims

1) Indian Polity by M. Laxmikant

Indian Polity by M. Laxmikant is the most widely acclaimed book for the preparation of Indian Polity and the Indian Political System. It is a comprehensive book that deals with all the aspects of Indian polity including the history, development, philosophy, structure, functions and role of the institutions in particular and the Indian Political System in General. The book presents a brilliant introduction to the Constitution and its principles which enhances a student’s understanding of the Constitution of India, its principles and its importance. The book is the most important book for preparation of Prelims.

The book covers all the parts of the Constitution in a detailed manner including the Preamble, The Union and its States, Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy, Fundamental Duties and so on. However, it is not just the Constitution that is discussed in the book. The book also discusses in detail the Non-Constitutional Institutions that are nationally important in the functioning of the government.

The book is an outstanding book from the point of view of exams. The book consists of a large question bank for practice as well as a complete list of previous year’s questions. The questions are in MCQ format and are divided according to the levels of difficulty. It comprehensively deals with all the important topics that are asked in not only UPSC-CSE, but also PCS, NET, and other government competitive exams. M. Laxmikant is one of the best books for UPSC and the best book for Indian Polity.

2) Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania

The competitive exams such as the UPSC-CSE (General Studies Paper-1), PCS etc. are rife with questions on Indian Art and Culture. It is, in fact, a topic which candidates find the most difficult to crack. The second book on our list of Best Books for UPSC is the top book dealing with the art, heritage and culture of India. 

The book comprehensively deals with art, architecture, literature, folk dance, music etc. in various regions of India, covering the minuscule details of the art and culture, along with the historical background of the art and culture of various regions. The book is divided into three parts: Visual Arts, Performing Arts and the Culture of India.

The first part, i.e. Visual Arts, deals with the visual form of art found in India from the times of Indus Valley Civilization to the modern times. These include paintings, sculptures, architecture, pottery, handicrafts, stoneware, interior designs, and the various schools of painting. The section discusses in detail the very intricate details of the various forms of visual arts.

The second part, which deals with Performing Arts, is perhaps the most important part since many questions in the competitive exams are related to this topic. The part consists of various types of performing arts such as music, dance, martial arts, circus, puppetry, and theatre. The part also deals with the historical background of the ancient as well as the modern forms of performing arts.

The last part consists of culture in India and its important components. It includes the various languages and their scripts, various forms of literature in different regions, religion and its impact on culture, the various branches of different religions, calendars, festivals, cinema and philosophy. This part is the most interesting part of the entire book.

3) India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra

Few topics are as important as the history of the Indian Independence Movement. Indian  Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra is a comprehensive book that deals with all the aspects of the Indian Independence Movement from an exam point-of-view. The book discusses in detail the historical background, the advent of the British, the struggle before and after the formation of the Indian National Congress, the major events that marked the struggle and so on.

The book also extensively delves into the role of prominent leaders of the Indian National Movement including but not limited to Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Subhash Chandra Bose, and so on. The book also discusses in detail the major events that shaped our struggle for Independence, beginning with the Revolt of 1857 and culminating with Freedom and partition.

The author doesn’t limit himself to the political developments that led to freedom. He also delves into the socio-cultural reforms that were imperative for the unity of all Indians to drive the British out. The author touches upon the movements of Dalit Reformers, Communal politicians, peasant movements, radical left reformers, socio-economic movements such as the Swadeshi movement, and much more. The book also doesn’t limit itself to any region; it touches upon the economic, political, social, cultural and religious aspects of all regions in India.

India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra is a classic book which is recommended by most teachers who have taught the subject for decades. Bipan Chandra is a historian who has written extensively on Indian History. The book is an authentic book with no factual errors and is used as a reference book by academicians and historians alike. The book is undoubtedly one of the Best Books for UPSC – CSE preparation.

4) Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh

For students not belonging to an Economics or Commerce background, the subject of the Indian Economy can be tricky and confusing, and potentially the decisive factor in cracking the GS- Paper 1. It is one of the best books for UPSC preparation, especially when it comes to Indian Economy. It is a comprehensive book covering all major topics about the Indian Economy. 

The book touches upon the historical background of the Indian Economy (especially the early mainstays: Agriculture and Heavy Industries), the economic policies adopted immediately after the independence, the Planning Commission, major economic reforms – especially in the 1980s and ’90s, the economic cycles, the impact of the World Trade Organisation, the evolution and rise of the service sector, the working of Indian Financial and Securities Markets, Banking and its history, contemporary economic issues and much more. 

The book is a useful one when it comes to the preparation for UPSC – CSE. The book consists of 6 sets of Question Banks in MCQ format. The book also consists of important points about the latest Union Budget and the latest Economic Survey. Additionally, he explains the critical concepts using charts, graphs and data tables. The book is trusted by teachers and aspirants of UPSC- CSE, PCS and other competitive exams alike as it covers all the topics naked in the exam. 

Above all, the author – Ramesh Singh – is highly respected in academia and has authored several books and regularly contributes to magazines such as Yojana and Kurukshetra. He is an alumnus of the Delhi School of Economics. 

5) Geography of India by Majid Husain

Majid Husain is a renowned Geographer and academician who has written extensively on the Geography of India for students preparing for the UPSC-CSE and other competitive exams. The book is one of the best books for UPSC and has become a best-seller. The book is helpful in preparing for General Studies Paper 1, General Studies Paper 2, Geography Optional Paper 2, and General Studies Paper 4.

The book broadly and in detail covers the topics of Physical Geography, Economic Geography, Human Geography, Natural Vegetation and National Parks, India’s Climate, Soils found in India, Agriculture and its spatial organisation in India, Cultural Regions, Regional Development and planning, political geography, and all other topics as prescribed by the UPSC regarding Geography optional paper. 

The book delves into the physical nature of India and explains the physical processes that make up the geography of India including landforms, structures, climatic processes, land, soil etc. Additionally, the book touches on the subject of agriculture and its spatial distribution across India, along with the agro-climatic and agro-ecological regions. This makes the book a comprehensive one for the study of Indian Geography.

6) NCERT Books (Class VI to XII)

NCERT Books are perhaps the most important books when it comes to preparation for UPSC-CSE Prelims. These books include:

NCERT Social Science Class VI to VIII

NCERT Sociology Class XI 

NCERT Sociology Class XII

NCERT History Class XI (Medieval and Ancient History)

NCERT History Class XII (Modern History of India)

NCERT Science Class VI to X

The above books are in tandem with the UPSC Prelims syllabus and many questions appear in the exam each year directly from the books. The books are extremely useful in developing the foundational concepts which are highly useful for the aspirants. The content in NCERT books is well-structured and everything is explained in simple and easily comprehensible language. NCERT books are thus among the Best Books for UPSC-CSE preparation.

7) News and Current Affairs

In addition to books, one must be thoroughly aware of current affairs – both national and international. Questions related to current affairs are frequent in the UPSC- CSE exams, especially in Prelims. To remain up to date regarding Current Affairs, you must regularly read The Hindu, The Indian Express and their editorials. You must also read the current affairs of various institutes that release monthly current affairs booklets. This part is an important part and thus must be taken seriously by the aspirants.

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