UPSC IAS Prelims 2020: Check Detailed Analysis of Paper I (History Section)

UPSC CSE IAS Prelims GS Paper 1: The UPSC Civil Services Prelims 2020 conducted on October 4 left many aspirants baffled with more questions asked from the Ancient History. In this article, we have provided an analysis of the UPSC Civil Services Prelims 2020 keeping History questions at the focus.

UPSC IAS Prelims GS Paper: This year, UPSC IAS Prelims 2020 paper laid more focus on the Ancient History syllabus. Out of a total of 100 questions in the Prelims paper, 20 questions were asked from the History section. The GS Paper 1 was on the difficult side and turned out to be a mix of a static and analytic one. More emphasis is given on understanding the subject than just cramming books. In this article, we have provided solutions to all the History questions asked in the Prelims GS Paper 1 with explained answers for better understanding.

 Indian History Questions asked in UPSC Prelims 2020 General Studies Paper – 1

Ques 1:  With reference to the history of India, consider the following pairs:

  Famous Place     Present State

  1. Bhilsa –            Madhya Pradesh
  2. Dwarasamudra – Maharashtra
  3. Giri nagar –            Gujarat
  4. Sthaneshvara –      Uttar Pradesh

Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 1 and 4 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 2 and 4 only

Answer: a

Explanation: As a general of Sultan Jalaluddin, Alauddin Khalji raided the Paramara city of Bhilsa in 1293 CE. He damaged the city’s Hindu temples, and looted a large amount of wealth. It was renamed Vidisha in 1956 and lies in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Hence, Statement 1 is correct.

Halebidu (which used to be called Doras mudra or Dwarasamudra) is a town located in Hassan District, Karnataka, India. Halebidu was the regal capital of the Hoysala Empire in the 12th century. Statement 2 is incorrect.

 Girnar, also known as Giri nagar (‘city-on-the-hill’) or Revatak Parvata, is a group of mountains in the Junagadh District of Gujarat, India. Hence, Statement 3 is correct.

Thanesar (sometimes called Thaneswar and, archaically, Sthanishvara) is a historic town and an important Hindu pilgrimage centre on the banks of the Saraswati River in the state of Haryana. Statement 4 is incorrect.

Ques 2: With reference to the period of Gupta dynasty in ancient India, the towns Ghantasala, Kadura and Chaul were well known as

(a) Ports handling foreign trade

(b) Capitals of powerful kingdoms 

(c) Places of exquisite stone art and architecture

(d) Important Buddhist pilgrimage centres

Answer: a

Explanation: Ghantasala, Kadura and Chaul were major ports of the Gupta Dynasty.

Ques 3: With reference to the cultural history of India, consider the following pairs:

  1. Parivraajaka – Renunciant and Wanderer
  2. Shramana – Priest with a high status
  3. Upasaka- Lay follower of Buddhism

Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 1 and 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: b

Explanation Parivraajaka has origin as Indian, Sanskrit and means Wanderer or Itinerant. Statement 1 is correct.

The term Shramana in early Vedic literature is predominantly used as an epithet for the Rishis with reference to Shrama associated with monks. Statement 2 is incorrect.

Upasaka are from the Sanskrit and Pali words for “attendant”. This is the title of followers of Buddhism (or, historically, of Gautama Buddha) who are not monks, nuns, or novice monastic’s in a Buddhist order, and who undertake certain vows. Statement 3 is correct.

Ques 4: With reference to the cultural history of India, which one of the following is the correct description of the term ‘paramitas’?

(a) The earliest Dharmashastras texts are written in aphoristic (sutra) style

(b) Philosophical schools that did not accept the authority of Vedas

(c) Förfections whose attainment led to the Bodhisattva path

(d) Powerful merchant guilds of early medieval South India

Answer: c


Paramita or pāramī, is a Buddhist term often translated as “perfection”. It is described in Buddhist commentaries as noble character qualities generally associated with enlightenment. Statement 3 is correct.

Ques 5: In the context of Indian history, the Rakhmabai case of 1884 revolved around

  1. women’s right to gain education
  2. age of consent
  3. restitution of conjugal rights

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: b

Explanation: Rakhmabai got married at 11-years of age to the 19-year old Dadaji Bhikaji. When Rakhmabai was still in school, her husband, Dadaji, insisted that Rakhmabai come and live with him in his house. Rakhmabai refused to go with him. Dadaji soon filed a petition in the court of law. Early in 1884, one of India’s most influential and publicized trials began. After Rakhmabai refused to stay with her husband, the court gave her two options – to either comply or face imprisonment. Rakhmabai told the court that she would rather go to jail than live with Dadaji. The case sparked debates on the age of consent for marriage when Rakhmbai refused to obey.

Behramji Malabari and Pandita Ramabai came to her defense and formed the Rakhmabai Defense Committee. The case spanned 4 years until Dadaji was “compensated” in 1888, outside of court. The case was instrumental in the drafting of the Age of Consent Act in 1891.

Ques 6: Indigo cultivation in India declined by the beginning of the 20th century because of

(a) Peasant resistance to the oppressive conduct of planters

(b) Its unprofitability in the world market because of new inventions

(c) National leaders’ opposition to the cultivation of indigo

(d) Government control over the planters

Answer: b

Explanation: The invention of artificial indigo created a significant declining trend of the quantity of indigo exported from Tirhuta to the United Kingdom, United States, France and Australia, Germany and Japan in the late 19th and early 20th century. Statement 2 is correct.

Ques 7: Wellesley established the Fort William College at Calcutta because

(a) He was asked by the Board of Directors at London to do so

(b) He wanted to revive interest in oriental learning in India

(c) He wanted to provide William Carey and his associates with employment

(d) He wanted to train British civilians for administrative purpose in India

Answer: d

Explanation: It was to train these British officials that Fort William College was established by Lord Richard Wellesley (Governor-General of Bengal from 1798 to 1805) in 1800. On the 24th of November that year, the first lectures were delivered at the college, in an assortment of tongues – Arabic, Persian and Hindustani. The college aimed to create civil servants who were familiar with Indian languages, history, culture and local laws. Alongside, they would also receive training in Western languages and the art of administration. Statement 4 is correct.

Ques 8: With reference to the history of India, “Ulgulan” or the Great Tumult is the description of which of the following events?

(a) The Revolt of 1857

(b) The Mappila Rebellion of 1921

(c) The Indigo Revolt of 1859 – 60

(d) Birsa Munda’s Revolt of 1899-1900

Answer: d

Explanation: The ulgulan, meaning ‘Great Tumult’, sought to establish Munda Raj and independence. The Mundas traditionally enjoyed a preferential rent rate as the khuntkattidar or the original clearer of the forest. Hence, Statement 4 is correct

Ques 9: With reference to the scholars/litterateurs of ancient India consider the following statements:

  1. Panini is associated with Pushyamitra Shunga.
  2. Amarsimha is associated with Harshavardhana.
  3. Kalidasa is associated with Chandra Gupta – II.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: c

Explanation:  Pāṇini’s likely lived in Shalatura in ancient Gandhara in the northwest Indian subcontinent, in what is now modern day Pakistan, during the Mahajanapada era. The name Pāṇini’s is a patronymic meaning descendant of Paṇina. Pushyamitra Shunga was a ruler in East India. Hence, Statement 1 is incorrect

Amarsimha is said to have been one of the Navaratnas (“nine gems”) at the court of Vikramaditya, the legendary king inspired by Chandragupta II, a Gupta king who reigned around AD 400. Statement 2 is incorrect

Kalidasa is associated with Chandra Gupta II (reigned c. 380–c. 415). Statement 3 is correct

Ques 10: With reference to the history of India, consider the following pairs:

  1. Aurang – In-charge of treasury of the State
  2. Banian – Indian agent of the East India Company
  3. Mirasidar – Designated revenue payer to the State

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: b

Explanation: Aurang is a Persian word for a warehouse where goods are collected and stored before it is sold. Statement 1 is incorrect

Banians acted as intermediaries for European merchants in Bengal. They were highly influential in the 18th century but viewed as of waning importance thereafter. Statement 2 is correct

Mirasidar – Under the ryotwari settlement system, the government recognized mirasidars as the sole proprietors of land, dismissing tenants’ rights completely.  Statement 3 is correct

Ques 11: With reference to the religious history of India, consider the following statements:

  1. Sthaviravadins belong to Mahayana Buddhism.
  2. Lokottaravadin sect was an off shoot of Mahasanghika sect of Buddhism
  3. The deification of Buddha by Mahasanghikas fostered the Mahayana Buddhism.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: b

Explanation: The first division in the Buddhist community occurred as a result of the second council, said to have been held 100 years after the Buddha’s death, at Vaisali (Bihar state), when the Acariyavadins (followers of the traditional teaching) split away from the Sthaviravadins (followers of the Way of the Elders) and formed their own school, known as the Mahasanghikas. The Mahasanghikas views on the nature of the Buddha and the arhat (“saint”) foreshadowed the development of the Mahayana form of Buddhism. Further subdivisions of the Mahasanghikas over the next seven centuries included the Lokottaravadins, the Ekavyavaharikas, and the Kaukkutikas.

Ques 12: Which of the following statements correctly explains the impact of Industrial Revolution on India during the first half of the nineteenth century?

(a) Indian handicrafts were ruined.

(b) Machines were introduced in the Indian textile industry in large numbers.

(c) Railway lines were laid in many parts of the country.

(d) Heavy duties were imposed on the imports of British manufactures.

Answer a

Explanation: industrial revolution during the first half of 19th Century led to ruining of Indian handicraft. Traditional handicraft industries started declining in the 18th century and proceeded rapidly almost to the beginning of the 19th century. This process is called de-industrialisation.

Ques 13: Consider the following events in the history of India:

  1. Rise of Pratiharas under King Bhoja
  2. Establishment of Pallava power under Mahendravarman – I
  3. Establishment of Chola power by Parantaka – I
  4. Pala dynasty founded by Gopala

What is the correct chronological order of the above events, starting from the earliest time?

(a) 2-1-4-3

(b) 3-1-4-2

(c) 2-4-1-3

(d) 3-4-1-2

Answer: c

Explanation: Mahendravarman I was a Pallava king who ruled the Southern portion of present day Andhra region and Northern regions of what forms present-day Tamil Nadu in India in the early 7th century from 600-630CE

Gopala (ruled c. 750s–770s CE) was the founder of the Pala Dynasty of Bengal region of the Indian Subcontinent.

Mihira Bhoja (836-885 CE) or Bhoja I was a ruler of the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty of India. He succeeded his father Ramabhadra.

Parantaka Chola I (c. 907–955) ruled the Chola kingdom in Tamil Nadu southern India for forty-eight years, annexing Pandya. The best part of his reign was marked by increasing success and prosperity.

Ques 14: Which of the following phrases defines the nature of the ‘Hundi’ generally referred to in the sources of the post-Harsha period?

(a) An advisory issued by the king to his subordinates

(b) A diary to be maintained for daily accounts

(c) A bill of exchange

(d) An order from the feudal lord to his subordinates

Answer c

Explanation: Hundi was a financial instrument that developed in Medieval India for use in trade and credit transactions. Hundis are used as a form of remittance instrument to transfer money from place to place, as a form of credit instrument

Ques 15: With reference to the book “Desher Katha” written by Sakharam Ganesh Deuskar during the freedom struggle, consider the following statements:

  1. It warned against the Colonial State’s hypnotic conquest of the mind.
  2. It inspired the performance of swadeshi street plays and folk songs.
  3. The use of ‘desh’ by Deuskar was in the specific context of the region of Bengal.

 Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: d

Explanation: Sakharam Ganesh Deuskar (1869-1912) a close associate of Sri Aurobindo.  A Marathi Brahmin who had settled in Bengal, Sakharam was born in Deoghar. He published a book entitled Desher Katha describing in exhaustive detail the British commercial and industrial exploitation of India. This book had an immense repercussion in Bengal, captured the mind of young Bengal and assisted more than anything else in the preparation of the Swadeshi movement.

Ques 16: The Gandhi-Irwin Pact included which of the following?

  1. Invitation to Congress to participate in the Round Table Conference
  2. Withdrawal of Ordinances promulgated in connection with the Civil Disobedience Movement
  3. Acceptance of Gandhiji’s suggestion for enquiry into police excesses
  4. Release of only those prisoners who were not charged with violence

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 1, 2 and 4 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 2, 3 and 4 only

Answer: b


The Indian National Congress (INC) agreed to take part in the Round Table Conference.

The INC would stop the civil disobedience movement.

  1. Withdrawal of all ordinances that curbed the activities of the Congress.
  2. Withdrawal of all prosecutions except those involving violent crimes.
  3. Release of those who were arrested for taking part in the civil disobedience movement.
  4. Removal of the salt tax.

Ques 17: The Vital-Vidhvansak, the first monthly journal to have the untouchable people as its target audience was published by

(a) Gopal Baba Walangkar

(b) Jyotiba Phule

(c) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

(d) Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar

Answer a

Explanation: Gopal Baba Walangkar, also known as Gopal Krishna is an early example of an activist working to release the untouchable people of India.

Ques 18: With reference to the history of India, the terms “kulyavapa” and “dronavapa” denote

(a) Measurement of land

(b) Coins of different monetary value

(c) Classification of urban land

(d) Religious rituals

Answer: a

Explanation: Navaratna was a land measure in Gupta period. Different land measure was known in different regions, such as Navaratna, Kulyavapa and Dronavapa. The importance of irrigation to help agriculture was recognized in India from the earliest times. According to Narada, there are two kinds of dykes the bardhya which protected the field from floods and the Khaya which served the purpose of irrigation.

Ques 19: Who among the following rulers advised his subjects through this inscription ?

“Whosoever praises his religious sect or blames other sects out of excessive devotion to his own sect, with the view of glorifying his own sect, he rather injures his own sect very severely.”

(a) Ashoka

(b) Samudragupta

(c) Harshavardhana

(a) Krishnadeva Raya

Answer: a

Explanation: The quote is from Ashoka’s Dhamma.

Ques 20: One common agreement between Gandhism and Marxism is

(a) the final goal of a stateless society

(b) Class struggle

(c) Abolition of private property –

(d) Economic determinism

Answer: a

Explanation: There is a great similarity between Mahatma Gandhi and Karl Marx. However, while the final aim of both of them was the establishments of a stateless and classless society, their means for achieving this aim are different. Mahatma Gandhi wanted to achieve this end through non-violent means but Marx wanted to achieve it through violent means.

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