Economic And Social Development UPSC: Chief Point, Budget, Topics & Other Details

When it comes to the economics preparation in the UPSC civil services exam, students tend to worry a lot about economics, but it is quite an inevitable element of the UPSC syllabus- Prelims and the mains.

It is as well put forward as an optional subject in the UPSC mains papers. This article put emphasis on the economics syllabus for UPSC Prelims and mains.

Economic and Social Development: sustainable development, poverty, inclusion, demographics, social sector initiatives, etc.

At this stage, students should complete the topics like economic growth and development, finance, banking, budget, a balance of payments, poverty and related issues, population composition and related characteristics, social sector initiatives related to education, health and sanitation, and international financial institutions.

Chief point to focus: 


  • Economic growth and development – basic concept and definition of economy and economics, uses and transfer of resources, distributive effects, macro and micro economic policy, micro-macro balance, distributive impact of economic policies, development versus growth, determinant of growth and development, concepts such as HPI/MPI, HDI, PQLI, GEM, GDI/GII, TAI, Green index, sustainable development, India’s ranking in the various indices.
  • Poverty – definitions, causes, distribution-deprivation, income versus calories, measurement of poverty, the status of poverty, eradication programmes, poverty and resource policy, tribal rights and issues, livelihood mission.
  • Inclusion – definition, relevance, types, financial inclusion, recent initiatives.
  • Demographics – census data, populations by gender, by state, by age group, socio-economic status, caste, religion, literacy levels, etc. Trends in human development – interstate comparison, etc.
  • Fiscal policy – definition, component, receipts, revenue and capital account, tax revenue, expenditure, budget.

The following question is on a budget: 


  1. Q) With reference to Union Budget, which of the following, is/are covered under Non-Plan Expenditure? (GS Paper I, 2014)
  2. Defense -expenditure
  3. Interest payments
  4. Salaries and pensions
  5. Subsidies

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1, 2, 3 and 4
  4. None

Ans) c

 Topic to be taken notice of 


  • Social issues – financing health policy, education policy, sanitation, drinking water, social security, infrastructure policy, international trade issues, regional cooperation.
  • Also, focus on issues currently in news related to the above topics – ENERGY, MSMEs, Make in India, industrial corridors, NITI Ayog, black money, international treaties and organizations, India’s policies with neighbors.

Example questions from UPSC prelims papers under economics topics: 


  1. Q) If the interest rate is decreased in an economy, it will (GS Paper I, 2014)
  2. decrease the consumption expenditure in the economy
  3. increase the tax collection of the Government
  4. increase the investment expenditure in the economy
  5. increase the total savings in the economy

Ans) c

  1. Q) Which one of the following is likely to be the most inflationary in its effect? (GS Paper I, 2013)
  2. Repayment of public debt
  3. Borrowing from the public to finance a budget deficit
  4. Borrowing from banks to finance a budget deficit
  5. Creating new money to finance a budget deficit

Ans) d

Indian Economy syllabus for UPSC mains/Economics syllabus for UPSC mains:


UPSC Economics syllabus for mains is contained within the General Studies Paper 3 which covers a topic Economic Development.

The main point of Focus:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, development, growth, and employment.
  • Inclusive growth
  • Budgeting
  • Major cropping patterns in different parts of the country, different types of irrigation, transport, and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and associated constraints; e-technology for
  • Direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; PDS- objectives, functioning, limitations; issues of buffer stocks, food security; economics of animal-rearing, Technology missions.
  • Food processing and related industries
  • Land reforms
  • Effects of liberalization
  • Infrastructure: energy, roads, ports, airports, and railways
  • Investment models

Suggested books to read for economics topics of General Studies Paper III: 


  • NCERT textbook classes X, XI, XII
  • Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh
  • Indian Economy – Sanjeev Verma
  • Ministry websites of water, power, etc.
  • Economic Survey
  • Budgets
  • Administrative Reforms Commissions (ARC) Reports
  • PIB
  • Newspapers