UPSC Courses


Society And Culture

Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from Ancient to Modern times

This topic is one of the most unusual and unpredictable topics in the whole syllabus. There are umpteen numbers of art forms from paintings, folk dances to festivals and literature as well as architectural marvels, and therefore it becomes very tough to remember them. Out of 250 marks, the weightage given to this section is for around 20-40 marks. The questions asked are more of opinion-based and not factual so it is recommended not to focus on the factual names and places rather it would be prudent to focus more on the details, background and its relevance as to how it is different from other such set/literature forms.

Sample question from 2016

Early Buddhist Stupa-Art, while depicting folk motifs and narratives successfully expounds Buddhist ideals. Elucidate.

When answering this question, it is important to know about the background behind the Buddhist philosophies and ideals. There is no such requirement to study in detail about the names of various stupas situated or names associated, just relevant details would do.

Sources/books for Indian Art and Culture

  • CCRT Website
  • Tamil Nadu book- Class 11th
  • NCERT - Class 11 NCERT – An Introduction to Indian Art
  • New NCERTs (Class 7th-12th)
  • Indian Culture- Spectrum
  • The Hindu

Reading newspaper is a must as we have seen that UPSC is regularly asking many questions keeping in mind the current events related to this section in past years and reading books alone would not suffice and you need to have a fine understanding of topics. This will immensely help you in selecting the right articles from the newspaper related to culture.

Let us see an example

To what extent has the urban planning and culture of the Indus Valley Civilization provided inputs to the present day urbanization? Discuss. (2014)

It is very important to understand the intention and sources behind a question and this question can be solved along with having a sound grasp over current affairs update as well as historical static knowledge.

While reading these NCERT Books, you should look for topics related to art and culture and make notes on the each topic. You will not find separate art and culture chapters in these NCERT Books so make notes for these topics too.

Do read few chapters from each book that are related to sub-topics mentioned in the GS Paper I Syllabus. Art and Culture requires a ton of memorisation and there’s really no shortcut to mastering it except through multiple revisions.

Indian Society

This is a generic, nebulous topic with no style or structure. Questions are sometimes vague, philosophical and the challenge you’ll face is not so much in lack of content as in presenting it concisely in 200 odd words.

To understand the basics, read NCERT of Sociology. Make concise notes on each topic that includes: a crisp definition, latest statistics, govt. schemes, criticism of these schemes; causes of issues such as communalism and regionalism, historical and current examples, their impact on our society, and your suggestions as the way ahead.

Syllabus of Indian Society in GS Paper 1

  • 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.

Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India

This is a general sub-topic just to give you a basic understanding of the Social setup and institutions enabling you to study other topics of Social science effectively.

Sources/books for Indian Society Section

  • NCERT Indian Society (Class 12th)

Role of women and women s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

There are two parts of this topic and we will treat them separately,

1. Role of women and women s organization

2. Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

Women empowerment related questions are asked regularly in the exam and Population-Poverty questions also form a considerable part of the paper. As you can see these topics are dynamic and relevant content can be found in newspapers and YOJANA articles.

Sample question

An essential condition to eradicate poverty is to liberate the poor from deprivation. Substantiate this statement with suitable examples. (2016)

Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization on women in India. (2015)

These questions do not require you to mug up any book. What is needed is to multiply your knowledge base and analyse topics through different lenses and for this a thorough reading of Newspaper articles and Journals like EPW, Yojana and Kurukshetra is required, also debates and discussion on Rajya Sabha TV is of immense help.

Sources/books for Women Issues

  • NCERT- Sociology 12th
  • Economic Survey and India Year Book (Statistics)
  • Newspapers- The Hindu and Business Standard
  • EPW
  • Rajya Sabha TV
  • Yojana
  • Kurukshetra

Effects of Globalization on Indian Society

This is a general subtopic and for this, no book as such is required because while studying from NCERT Sociology (12th) you will generate enough content to understand this topic.

Communalism, regionalism & secularism; Social empowerment

This is the most important sub-topic among all other subtopics of Social Science as it has got the highest weightage of marks. Also, these topics do not require any scholar understanding, basic knowledge and analytical perspective is more than enough.

Sample question-

Has the formation of linguistic states strengthened the cause of Indian Unity (2016) (Demand for new states, always in news)

Dos and Dont's for Indian Society

  • Don’t read any other books apart from NCERT for this part. It will be a sheer waste of time and money.
  • Focus on analyzing topics- pros and cons, it would be much better to have a group discussion on the topics of social science with your peer group.
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