The UPSC syllabus covers a wide range of topics during the Preliminary Examination. Art and Culture is just one subject that gets asked in the civil services test, but it is also the one that has the most uncertainty. To assist all IAS aspirants sitting for the exam this year, we spoke to Mr. Chaitanya of who gave us some tips to study for art and culture, and also answers few commonly asked doubts.

• How many questions are covered under the topic?

Sadly, there is no set answer to this query. Some years the number is high and others it is low. Comparing the last few years questions papers will make it apparent that predicting a single number is not possible. So have a holistic strategy while studying the topic.

• Are the questions only based on current affairs?

No, under art and culture questions may be asked from any era. Most often there is a blend of questions from current affairs to ancient India.

How do you prepare for questions on art and culture?

Learning by rote is not the best strategy for learning art and culture. It is just not feasible to learn everything. The only way to tackle the topic is to build an interest in it. When you begin to appreciate different art forms, you retain more. You are able to draw links between ancient art and present cultures. For example, an old water harvesting structure can be easily connected to the drought faced in the current era.

What are the material sources one should use?

To prepare for art and culture, a few books a civil aspirant can utilize are:

• For ancient and medieval India pick class 11th NCERTs. Pay more attention to the cultural dimensions, traditions, and philosophies rather than statistics of battles.

• For fine arts, again the standard 11th NCERT book is perfect. Think of it as a treasure trove that contains detailed descriptions of:

o famous sculptures
o monuments
o architecture

Read it the last page of each chapter at least twice, then pen down notes for revising later.

• The CCRT website is full of information about Indian architecture, sculpture, and painting. You can use the literature to study for the subject.
• The Hindu newspaper is another excellent source to study for art and culture.

Lastly, the best way to really learn the topic is to pay a visit to museums, monuments and art galleries on the days you take a break. They offer a direct learning source and reinforce what has been read in books. Also, documentaries on YouTube and BBC will also aid in the preparation of the subject.

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