Prelims 2014 threw a big surprise. As many as 8 questions were asked from Indian Art and Culture topic which is a rarity since Indian Heritage and Culture topic is listed in the GS Paper 1 syllabus of Mains exam and not in the Prelims. So, from now on, you will also need to prepare Indian Culture in prelims apart from the usual History topics like Ancient, Medieval and Modern India.
But in some ways this is a good development since now Prelims and Mains syllabus is more integrated and preparing for Indian Culture in Prelims will be really useful when revising for Mains as now you will have one topic less to prepare.
So the all important question is which book to refer for Indian Art and Culture questions for Prelims as well as for Mains?
The book I usually recommend for GS Mains is Facets of Indian Culture by Spectrum. This books is pretty comprehensive in scope and probably the oldest book for Indian Art and Culture for Mains. You will find it immensely useful for Prelims as well. I will briefly list the main chapters from this book so you get an idea of what’s covered and what’s not:
- Indian Culture: An Introduction
- Religion and Philosophy
- The Cinema
- Architecture, Art and Craft
- Language and Literature
- Media and Culture
- Promotion and Preservation of Culture
- Appendix: 1. Martial Arts of India 2. Places of Cultural Interest
As you can see from the above, all the topics are covered in the book. If you download the 2014 Prelims question paper, you will agree that the eight questions asked were from the topics listed in Facets of Indian Culture, specifically, Religion and Philosophy, Architecture, Art and Craft, Language and Literature, Music and Dance.
This book does not include all possible information, no book ever can, but still it is better than other books available in the market on Art and Culture.
Supplement Your Knowledge From Other Sources As Well
Since Art and Culture is such a vast topic with almost limitless information, no book can alone cover the entire topic. So it’s always advisable to supplement this book with your own sources like Wikipedia, Google search etc.
Having said that, the Membership Program also provides a very useful ebook on Indian Art and Culture with images and is really fun to read even if you are not targeting Prelims 2015 right now. Also this ebook will be updated this month with more relevant information taking into account the Prelims 2014 questions and will have more images and information for you. So if you’re interested in preparing for Prelims and Mains Art and Culture topic, I would suggest you have look at the Membership Program to download not just one, but 6 ebooks.