GS Mains 2015 : Booklist/Sources

This is the suggested books list by  Ashish Kumar 9th ranker in CSE 2014,he shared this books list on his blog, where he shared shared lot of good stuff, do check it out.

I have tried to reproduce below the sources that I followed for my GS preparation along with certain popular sources that I could not follow. I have also included certain observations regarding the sources that I followed.


Indian Culture


  1. GKToday Notes
  2. Old NCERT
  3. Tamil Nadu board intermediate level books
  1. Tried NIOS material but did not find it to be of any use and put it down after initial 50 pages
  2. AL Basham? Nopes. The font size scared me!
  3. My experience
    1. I found the GKToday material to be a good compilation.
    2. Old NCERT and Tamil Nadu level books help in getting some background of the chronology of dynasties, social structure
    3. Anything more than the above sources, I found to be a overkill given the constraints of time.

Modern History

  1. Read the thick Bipin Chandra (“India’s Struggle for Independence”) once in 2013. However it does not deal with pre-1857 syllabus. Also it deals with the post 1940 developments in a very trifling way.
  2. After reading the above books I stuck to
    1. Old class XII NCERT by Bipin Chandra : This also takes care of pre-1857 syllabus
    2. Spectrum Modern History
  3. The book by Bandopadhyay?
    1. This is a new book that is getting popular. However I did not get the time to read it for the mains
    2. I read some of it after the mains and found it to be much more balanced than the thick Bipin Chandra. It tends to get too trivial details at times. However that can be taken care of by proper underlining/highlighting
  4. My experience
    1. It is very important to keep the syllabus in mind while reading the book. This is because the syllabus says “…personalities..contributors…contributions from different parts of the country…”. So while reading as soon as you come across a particular personality make a mental note or a physical note somewhere. As soon as you come across a tribal movement make a note. Similarly remember the contributions made by various regions as an when you come across them in the book you follow.
    2. Why I liked Spectrum?
      1. Easy Retention
      2. Lots of information which can be linked and correlated to frame the answer
      3. Easy Revision


Post Independence Reorganization

  1. Followed Bipin Chandra’s India After Independence. This was my go to book
  2. Had read R.Guha’s ” India after Gandhi” which is a great book in 2013. It might not be so relevant from the purpose of exam but it is replete with immaculate details and dazzles you with the ‘idea of India’.
  3. Internet search
  4. My experience
    1. Bipin Chandra book is a thick book. Hence it gets very essential to underline the relevant details/make notes so that it becomes easier to revise.
    2. You might need to supplement Bipin Chandra with internet research to get a deeper insight/greater ‘fodder material’. For example the book does not go into detail the role of Lal Bahadur Shastri in the 1964-66 years or the role of B.R.Ambedkar in the Hindu Code Bill.

World History

  1. Followed
    1. Old NCERT class X book – The Story of Civilization
    2. Old NCERT intermediate level by Arjun Dev
    3. Synergy class notes
    4. Lots of internet search
  2. Norman and Lowe? : Heard that this is a great book. But paucity of time and the fact that it deals with post 1900 world made me decide against going for it
  3. My experience
    1. This section of the syllabus is pretty vast but interesting once you start correlating events.
    2. While NCERTs help get a base, they are insufficient if questions of the like of 2013 paper get asked. Thankfully the 2014 paper had easy questions.
    3. Synergy class notes helped in overcoming the inadequacy of NCERTs and provided with material to handle especially pre world war era questions
  1. Followed
    1. NCERT Sociology Books of Class XI and XII
    2. Vision IAS booklets on these topics available in the market
    3. My notes from the newspapers.



  1. Followed
    1. Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Long
    2. NCERT books Class XI and XII
    3. NIOS material of senior secondary school level
    4. Internet search. For eg: the IMD site
    5. Vision IAS booklets on world geography and resource geography
      1. These booklets hardly served any purpose since they did not have any information worth the mains exam. However I still went through them just for the sake of completeness
  2. Books by Khullar/Majid/spectrum: Did not go through them due to paucity of time. However even if you do have time go only selectively through these books since these are huge books
  3. My experience
    1. Understanding the core concepts of physical geography helps a long way in understanding the Indian geography and correlating things. This should be done with the help of GC Long, NCERT and internet search.
    2. Connect the general events of current affairs with geography. This goes both for physical geography as well as resource geography. For example: a tornado or a gold rush somewhere may trigger off a question in the exam related to cyclones/sources of gold and likewise. For this keep the syllabus in your mind at all times
    3. As earlier, I tried to keep the number of sources limited and focused on revising them




  1. Followed
    1. Indian Polity by Laxmikanth
    2. Sriram IAS Printed Polity Notes available in the market
    3. Vision IAS booklets available topicwise
    4. Gaurav Agarwal Sir’s notes on evernote
      1. I followed them mainly for Federalism, E-governance and Local governance
    5. Synergy class notes
    6. My own topicwise notes from the newspapers
  2. Reports?
    1. Except from what I could gather from Gaurav Agarwal sir’s notes and Vision IAS notes, I did not go through the ARCs or other commission’s reports for my mains. This was mainly due to time constraints.
    2. I went through a couple of ARC reports after the mains exam and found them to be very rich in content and insight. The good thing is that the recommendations are bunched together at one place so that after going through the material once, the revision is very fast. So if time permits, going through reports can be very useful.
  3. My experience
    1. Vision IAS topic wise modules were of great help in completing the syllabus and are of OK quality
    2. Gaurav Agarwal Sir’s notes are very concise and of high quality
    3. Following newspaper and editorials is a must for this section so as to be able to enrich your answers

Social Justice

  1. Followed
    1. Vision IAS booklets available topicwise in the market
    2. Own notes from the newspapers
    3. Certain very selective articles from Yojana
  2. 12th FYP?
    1. Again could not study this before the mains
    2. Did go through many FYP reports after the exam. So if time permits, one can give a shot at them with proper highlighting/underlining to allow easier revision
  3. My experience
    1. Remain updated with the newspapers and link what you read in the newspapers with this section


International Relations

  1. Followed
    1. Rajiv Sikri book
      1. Did not find it useful owing to the time span that has elapsed after the writing of the book. The dynamic nature of the international affairs renders many things redundant in the present scheme of world fora.
    2. Selective reading of Vision IAS booklets to get certain background knowledge
    3. Notes from newspaper
  2. My experience
    1. There is no better source or perhaps no source other than newspapers for this part.
    2. Prepare country-wise/organization-wise notes at one place




  1. Followed
    1. Ramesh Singh TMH book on Economy
    2. Vision IAS booklets available topicwise in the market
    3. Gaurav Agarwal Sir’s notes on certain topics
    4. Economic Survey chapter on Agriculture
    5. Own notes from newspaper
  2. My experience
    1. Again the main source for this part is newspaper
    2. Keep the syllabus in mind and make a mental link to the corresponding item while reading any news/editorial related to it


Science and Technology

  1. No specific preparation except the notes from newspapers
  2. The preparation to this part knows no bounds. Since there was no readily available book/material I preferred to skip this part



  1. Quick revision of the relevant portion from Shankar IAS
  2. Notes from newspapers


Disaster Management

  1.  Followed
    1. Vision IAS booklet
    2. Gaurav Agarwal Sir’s notes
    3. Own notes from newspapers



  1. Followed
    1. Vision IAS booklet
      1. But did not find this booklet to be of much use
    2. TMH book on Security
      1. This is a thin book of around 140 pages but a very good one which covers almost all the topics
    3. Gaurav Agarwal Sir’s notes
    4. Own notes from newspapers
  2. My experience
    1. This is a very interesting component of the syllabus and is also both static as well as dynamic in content. Hence place premium on both newspaper as well as background reading.



  1. Followed
    1. SK Mishra printed class notes available in the market
      1. The class notes are in concise format which allows one to go through the entire material in around 2-3 hours
      2. However the notes do not provide any deep insight
    2. Mohanty printed class notes available in the market
      1. These are comprehensive but are too theoretical. This material approaches the syllabus as it were a philosophy or a psychology optional. It does not go into the administrative component of ethics in any great detail which is afterall what the syllabus demands and hence these notes were of limited value.
    3. Vision IAS booklets topicwise
      1. These are a copy-paste job from various sources
    4. Printed case studies material by Lukmaan IAS
  2. The book by Subba? : Heard of it but did not read it.
  3. My experience
    1. Not much good material is available. However in hindsight, I do not think you need to go through a number of sources.

The above is post originally written for billano786, I do not agree with some sources or books for some topics,but in general he cover almost all books.

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