Here are the best recommended books required to prepare General Studies (Paper I, II, III, IV) for Civil Services Mains examination. The following resources have been compiled after extensive consultation with toppers in previously conducted mains exams by UPSC. The books mentioned below are considered must haves as far as Civil service preparation for mains exam goes.


Recommended Books for General Studies (GS) Paper-1 UPSC Mains Exam :

1. Indian Heritage and Culture –

Topics  Recommended Books

Salient features of Art Forms, literature and

Architecture from ancient to modern times

Recommended Books: 

  • Old NCERT for Ancient India and Medieval India
  • NCERT Class VI – History – Our Past
  • NCERT Class VII – Our Past -I
  • NCERT Class VIII – Our Past II and III
  • NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History I
  • NCERT Class-XII – Themes in Indian History – II
  • Class XI NCERT  An Introduction to Indian Art
  • CCRT Website
  • NIOS Material
  • Nitin Singhania book
  • Indian Heritage and Culture is a vast topic and one can never complete the subject as its boundaries remain undefined. Hence, going through NCERTs is most rewarding.
  • Introduction to fine arts – NCERT class 11​th is useful in covering basic art and crafts of India.
  • The CCRT website is abundant with culture study material and one must use to cover the ground left by the NCERTs.


2. Modern Indian history –

Topics  Recommended Books
Significant events, personalities and issues –

from middle of eighteenth century until the present

  • NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History III
  • From Plassey to Partition by Shekhar Bandopadhyay
Freedom Struggle – various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country
  • Bipan Chandra’s Struggle For India’s Independence
  • Plassey to Partition


For this part of the syllabus, just relying on NCERT books and current affairs may do the trick. You don’t necessarily have to read any separate book. Just keep connecting current happenings in the national and international current affairs with relevent portions of history.

Still, for revision and wholesome study, do go through a Brief history of modern India by Spectrum publications. It is a summary of the Bipin Chandra, so easy to digest and reproduce.

Read Plassey to Partition, only after basics are done and time permits. This book has better analysis than other books but that is only beneficial once you are clear with the basics.


3. Post-independence –

Topics  Recommended Books
Post-independence consolidation & and reorganization within the country
  • India Since Independence – Bipan Chandra
  • India After Gandhi: The History Of The World’s Largest Democracy


Read Chapter 6 to 12 of India Since Independence by Bipan Chandra. Otherwise this is a fat book, but just stick to the syllabus.

You may also read Chapters 8 to 14 from India After Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha.

Reading and solving Politics in India After Independence- NCERT book is deemed essential here.


4. World History –

Topics  Recommended Books
Events from 18th century :

  • industrial revolution,
  • world wars,
  • redrawal of national boundaries,
  • colonization,
  • decolonization,
  • political philosophies like communism, capitalism,socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society
  • Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe
  • India and Contemporary World – 9 ​th ​ and 10 ​th NCERTs for colonization, etc.
  • World history by Norman lowe covers all topics of the syllabus except for Industrial revolution.
  • Arjun Dev – History of the World from the Late Nineteenth to the Early Twenty First Century. This is the old NCERT book albeit without the chapter-end excercises.


5. Indian Society –

Topics  Recommended Books
Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India

  • Role of women and women’s organization,
  • 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

  • NCERT – Indian Society Class 12


  • Indian Society – Ram Ahuja
  • Social Problems in India – Ram Ahuja


This topic is mainly current affairs based. Keep tab on all important events that take place related to this topic.

  • Reading the book on Indian society, social change and development- 12 th ​ NCERTs is helpful in understanding the Indian Society.
  • Ministry of child and women development report
  • Selected articles from EPW
  • Other sub-topics are general in nature and can be found in Magazines and Newspapers. If one is thorough with current events questions on these sub-topics can be answered very well by consolidating the knowledge.


6. World Geography –

Topics  Recommended Books
  • World’s physical geography
  • Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent);
  • 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,
  • cyclone 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.

  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography 1st Edition
  • NCERT Class-XI – Fundamentals of Physical Geography
  • NCERT Class XII – Human Geography
  • NCERT Class-XII – India-People and Economy
  • Spectrum’s Geography of India 4 Edition
  • Fundamentals of physical geography, India: physical environment – 11 ​th NCERTS
  • Fundamentals of human geography, India, people and environment – 12 ​th NCERTs
  • Certificate physical and human geography by Go Che Leong
  • Spectrum’s Geography of India 4th Edition covers all topics in concise and clear manner. If you have paucity of time for geography, this can be your one-stop shop for covering the syllabus.
  • Comprehensive geography of India by Khullar and World geography by Majid Hussain are also helpful refrence books for Geography portion of GS 1 Mains.
  • Orient Longman Atlas
  • Following websites such as IMD, IPCC reports, IPSO report is helpful in tackling questions on recent developments.



Best Books for General Studies GS Paper-2 IAS Mains Exam :

1. Indian Polity and Constitution –

Topics  Recommended Books
Indian Constitution– historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.


Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries

  • NCERT Class XI – India Constitution At Work
  • NCERT Class XII – Political Science II
  • NCERT Class X – Democratic Politics
  • D.D. Basu’s “Introduction To The Constitution Of India”
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.
  • 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission– Organizational Structure Of Government of India (13th Report)
  • Laxmikant’s Indian Polity
Separation of powers between various organs, dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  • Laxmikant’s Indian Polity
  • ARC -“Capacity Building for Conflict Resolution” (7th report)
Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

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.

Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies, Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

  • Laxmikant’s Indian Polity
  • NIOS Polity material
  • Indian Constitution at work- 11 ​th ​ NCERTs
  • Indian polity by Laxmikant
  • D.D. Basu’s “Introduction To The Constitution Of India”
  • 2 ​nd ​ ARC report (relevant chapters only)
  • Punchhi Commission report (relevant chapters only)
  • PIB website ,Yojana magazine
  • If you cover these sources, then all you need to do more is Revise-write and revise some more.


2. Governance and Development –

Topics  Recommended Books
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors ,issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

  • Economic Survey 2016-17
  • Governance in India by M Laxmikanth
  • Yojana
  • India Year Book
Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures
  • 2nd ARC report on “Promoting e-Governance: The SMART Way Forward” (11th Report)
  • IGNOU e-governance
Role of civil services in a democracy
  • 2nd ARC report : Refurbishing of Personnel Administration (10th report) : 4th Chapter
  • Reports of CAG on concerned ministries for relevant social issue, schemes and their impact
  • Selected articles from EPW
  • Polity and governance by Laxmikant


3. International Relations –

Topics  Recommended Books
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

Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

  • Ministry of External Affairs Website
  • Challenge and Strategy – Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri


This section is extensively current affairs based. The questions asked in the Mains exam reflect the contemporary nature of IR. Hence, follow news related to international developments diligently.

  • Ministry of External Affairs website
  • Challenges strategy rethinking India’s foreign policy – Rajiv Sikri
  • Relevant current affairs from The Hindu, Indian Express newspapers



Suggested Booklist for General Studies GS Paper-3 UPSC Mains :

1. Economic Development –

Topics  Recommended Books
Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


  • NCERT Class X – Understaning Economic Development
  • NCERT Class XI – Indian Economic Development
  • NCERT Class XII – Macroeconomics
  • Indian Economy for Civil Services Examinations by Ramesh Singh (TMH)
Inclusive growth and issues arising from it
  • 12th Plan introduction :‘Faster, More Inclusive and Sustainable Growth’.
Government Budgeting
  • NCERT Class XII – Macroeconomics (Chapter 5)
  • Budget
  • 2nd ARC report
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; e-technology in the aid of farmers

Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing

Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

  • NCERT – Resources and Development
  • Parliamentary report on State of Indian Agriculture
  • PIB


Most recommended study material for Economy section is Budget, Economic Survey, 12th 5 year plan, and then current developments.

  • Indian economic development – 11 ​th ​ NCERTs
  • Economic survey 2016-17
  • Geography NCERTs of class 12 ​th – India, People and Economy
  • 12 ​th ​5 year plan (relevant chapters only)
  • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
  • Yojana relevant articles
  • India year book
  • Relevant current affairs from The Hindu, Indian Express newspaper


2. Technology –

Topics  Recommended Books
Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights

  • The Hindu
  • Frontline
  • India Year Book


Having the basics of Science revised is the best way to start this section. Thereafter, cover all topics of the syllabus either from internet or a standard book.

  • Science and technology by Tata Mcgraw Hill
  • India Year book for latest developments in Indian science scene
  • Subscribing to Science Reporter is also useful. Just be sure that you don’t sit and study the entire issue. Reading relevant topics is generally enough.


3. Environment –

Topics  Recommended Books
Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
  • The ministry of environment
  • Erach Bharucha’s Environmental Studies for Undergraduate Courses
  • Economic Survey
  • India Year Book


Magazines like Down to earth give regular updates in this field.

  • ICSE environment education books
  • Erach Bharucha’s Environmental Studies for Undergraduate Courses is available for free download, you can buy the printed book as well.
  • Following environment related news in The Hindu can give you ample cues about questions UPSC may spring on you.


4. Internal Security –

Topics  Recommended Books
Linkages between development and spread of extremism.

Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

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

Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism

Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

  • 2nd ARC Report
  • ‘India’s National Security – A Reader‘
  • 2 ​nd ​ ARC report (Public order, Capacity building for conflict resolution, Combating terrorism)
  • Especial focus on 5th schedule, PESA, FRA, 6th schedule
  • Ministry of Home affairs website and annual report
  • Challenges to internal security of India by Ashok kumar (Tata Mcgraw hills publications)
  • Relevant current affairs from The Hindu, Indian Express.etc.


5. Disaster Management –

Topics  Recommended Books
Disaster and disaster management
  • 2 ​nd ​ ARC (Crisis management)
  • CAG reports on disaster preparedness
  • Disaster Management by IGNOU


The best way to prepare Diasater Management is by going through books on same topic by CBSE. Thereafter read the following:

  • 2 ​nd ​ ARC (Crisis management)
  • Disaster Management by IGNOU



Booklist for GS Paper-4 General Studies UPSC CSE Mains Exam

This paper is meant to mainly test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Case Studies on issues given below.

1. Ethics and Human Interface –

Topics  Recommended Books
  • Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships.
  • Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
  • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  • 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.
Suggested books for Ethics:

  • 2 ​nd ​ ARC report- (Ethics in governance, personnel administration, RTI, Citizen Centric administration)
  • Lexicon for ethics, integrity and aptitude
  • Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and
    application in administration and governance.
  •  Lexicon for ethics, integrity and aptitude
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from
    India and world.
  •   IGNOU material
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.
  • 2 ​nd ​ ARC report- (Ethics in governance, personnel administration, RTI, Citizen Centric administration)
  • IIT B presentation on corporate governance


For going through basic terminology and covering all the syllabus of paper 4, the small handbook by Chronicle -Lexicon for ethics, integrity and aptitude is a sufficient read.

  • Reading the 2​nd ​ ARC fourth report on (Ethics in governance, personnel administration, RTI, Citizen Centric administration) is very helpful in understanding the role of ethics as seen by the authorities. There is no need to go through every page but only read and revise the tables and highlighed areas. The summary of every topic is given in the ARC report which is helpful.
  • For instance: In 2016 Mains GS Paper 4, the questions about “seven sins” could be directly answered from the tables in this report. Hence, take this as an important reference material for the Ethics paper of CSE Mains.


2. Probity in Governance –

Topics  Recommended Books
  • Concept of public service;
  • Philosophical basis of governance and probity;
  • 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


  • Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude by G Subbarao
  • These topics are best done from ARC reports.
  • You can also read this book – Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude by G Subbarao – for covering syllabus wise topics in Ethics syallbus.


Study Material for UPSC IAS Prelims and Mains