History | Art and Culture


  • Buddhist Remains From a Millennium ago in Jharkhand
    What is the News?

    Earlier this year, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had discovered Buddhist Remains from Hazaribagh’s Sadar block located at the eastern side of Jharkhand’s Sitagarha hills.

    What did the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) discover? ASI had discovered the remains of a Buddhist monastery along with some Shaivite remains which includes:

    • Four Statues of Taras, the “saviouresses” of the Thunderbolt Vehicle, displaying the Varada mudra(gesture of hand showing dispensing of boons).
    • Six statues of the Buddha in Bhumisparsha Mudra [gesture of hand showing five fingers of right hand towards the earth symbolising the Buddha’s enlightenment].
    • Remnants of a statue of the Shaivite goddess Maheswari. Also, with a coiled crown and chakra, it appears to suggest a degree of cultural assimilation at the site.
    Earlier Discoveries at this Site:
    • The first archaeological discoveries on this site were made in 1992. A painted grey ware (PGW) pottery, a votive stupa, a black basalt apsara torso, and an “eight-petalled astadala lotus” inscribed on the stone were discovered.
    • It was estimated that these antiquities of Buddhism were from 300 BC from the period of the Palas (8th to 12th centuries AD) and the Sena (11th-12th centuries).
    Significance of these discoveries:
    • These findings are significant since the monastery is on the old route to Varanasi. It is also 10 km from Sarnath where the Buddha gave his first sermon.
    • Further, the presence of statues of the deity Tara shows the possible proliferation of the Vajrayana form of Buddhism in this region.
      • Vajrayana is a form of Tantric Buddhism. It flourished in India from the 6th to 11th century.

    Source: Indian Express


  • What are “Sattras”?

    What is the news?

    In Assam, the campaigns of political parties often include going to different Sattras to seek blessings or to glorify the teachings of Sankardeva.

    What are Sattras?
    • Sattras are monastic institutions in Assam. They were created as part of the 16th century Neo-Vaishnavite reformist movement. Movements started by the Vaishnavite saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva(1449-1596).
    • Why were they established? They were established to spread the Sankardeva’s unique “worship through art” approach. They are doing it presently with music (borgeet), dance (sattriya), and theatre (bhauna).
    • Features:
      • Each Satra has a naamghar (worship hall) as its nucleus and is headed by an influential “Satradhikar”.
      • Monks known as bhakats are inducted into Sattras at a young age. They may or may not be celibate depending on the kind of Sattra they are inducted into.
    • Satras in Assam: There are about 900 Sattras across Assam, but the main centers are Bordowa (Nagaon), Majuli and Barpeta. These institutions are of paramount importance and lie at the heart of Assamese culture.
    What is Sankardeva’s philosophy?
    • Srimanta Sankardev (1449–1568) was a 15th–16th century Assamese saint, scholar, poet, and social-religious reformer.
    • He propagated a form of Bhakti philosophy called Eka Sarana naam Dharma. The philosophy had an influence on two medieval kingdoms—Koch and the Ahom kingdoms.
    • Key Features of the Philosophy:
      • Components: The four important components of the philosophy were deva (god), naam (prayers), bhakats (devotees), and guru (teacher).
      • Society: The philosophy espoused a society based on equality and fraternity, free from caste differences, orthodox Brahmanical rituals, and sacrifices.
      • Teachings: The teachings of the philosophy rejected idol worship and focused on devotion (bhakti) to Krishna. Devotion would be in the form of congregational listening and singing his name and deeds (Kirtan) and (sravan).

    Source: Indian Express

  • Gwalior, Orchha on UNESCO World Heritage City List

    Source: Click here

    News: The historical fort cities of Gwalior and Orchha in Madhya Pradesh have been included in the list of UNESCO’s world heritage cities urban landscape city programme.


    • Gwalior: It was established in the 9th century and ruled by Gurjar Pratihar Rajvansh, Tomar, Baghel Kachvaho and Scindias.The city is known for its palaces and temples, including the intricately carved Sas Bahu Ka Mandir temple.
      • The Gwalior Fort occupies a sandstone plateau overlooking the city and is accessed via a winding road lined with sacred Jain statues.Within the fort’s high walls is the 15th-century Gujari Mahal Palace, now an archaeological museum.
    • Orchha: It is popular for its temples and palaces and was the capital of the Bundela kingdom in the 16th century.The famous spots in the town are Raj Mahal, Jehangir Mahal, Ramraja Temple, Rai Praveen Mahal, and Laxminarayan Mandir.

    Additional Facts:

    • UNESCO World Heritage Cities Programme: It is one of six thematic programmes formally approved and monitored by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
    • Aim: To assist States Parties in the challenges of protecting and managing their urban heritage.
    • Urban Landscape City Programme: It was adopted in 2011 at UNESCO’s General Conference.This programme approach to managing historic urban landscapes is holistic by integrating the goals of urban heritage conservation and those of social and economic development.
  • Hampi stone chariot now gets protective ring

    Source: Click here

    News: Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) has placed wooden barricades around the famous stone chariot at Vijaya Vittala Temple Complex in Hampi for protection.


    • Hampi Stone Chariot: It is an iconic monument located in front of Vijaya Vittala Temple in Hampi, Karnataka.Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • Dedicated to: Stone Chariot is a shrine dedicated to Garuda, the official vehicle of Lord Vishnu.
    • Significance: Stone Chariot in Hampi is one of the three most popular stone chariots in India. Other two are in Konark (Odisha) and Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu).
    • Style: Built in Dravidian style, the stone chariot reflects skill of temple architecture under the patronage of Vijayanagara rulers who reigned from 14th to 17th century CE.

    Additional Facts:

    • Vijaya Vittala Temple also known as Vittala Temple is dedicated to Lord Vitthala, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.The temple is located in Hampi, near the banks of the Tungabhadra River.
    • Built by: Temple was built in the 15th century during the reign of King Devaraya II of the Vijayanagara Empire. Several sections of the temple were expanded and renovated during the reign of Krishnadevaraya, the famous ruler of the Vijayanagara dynasty.

Painting and Architecture

  • “Buddha Miniature Sculpture” found in Karnataka
    What is the News?

    A miniature sculpture of the Buddha has been found in Badagabettu village in Udupi district of Karnataka.

    About Buddha Miniature Sculpture:

    Miniature Buddha

    Source: The Hindu

    • The sculpture is made out of soft sandstone. It is around nine centimetres high, five centimetres wide and two centimetres thick.
    • Style: The sculpture is in the Gupta style. It looks like a replica of the Sarnath Buddha.
    • Features:
      • The Buddha is seated on a lotus pedestal in Dharma Chakra Pravartana Mudra.
      • Below the seat, six disciples are seated on either side of the Dharma Chakra.
      • The Lord wears clothes and earrings. A small Ushnisha(three-dimensional oval at the top of the head) is also shown on the top of the head. In the back of the head, a beautifully carved round lobe is seen.
      • On the top corners, two Yakshas and on either side of his back, two-winged horses have also been carved out.
    Significance of this discovery:
    • Traditionally, ancient Tulu Nadu was said to be ruled by the Kadambas of Banavasi. The Guptas and the Kadambas of Banavasi had matrimonial relations.
    • Hence, the discovery of the Buddha sculpture is not an uncommon thing. But, it has thrown open a new chapter in the history of the Udupi district and in the study of Buddhism in South India.

    Source: The Hindu

  • Climate Change impact on Cave Arts of Sulawesi Island of Indonesia
    What is the News?

    A new Australian study has suggested that climate change may be accelerating the degradation of Pleistocene-era rock paintings located in the Sulawesi Island of Indonesia. It is the world’s oldest cave art.

    About the study:
    • Australian and Indonesian archaeological scientists conducted the study. 
    • The scientists examined around 11 caves and rock-shelters in the Maros-Pangkep region in Sulawesi Island of Indonesia.
    • These are Pleistocene-era rock paintings dating back to 45,000-20,000 years ago.

    Which are those ancient cave arts of Indonesia? Some important artworks include:

    • Firstly, the world’s oldest hand stencil (almost 40,000 years ago): It was created by pressing the hand on a cave wall and spraying wet red-mulberry pigments over it.
    • Secondly, the world’s oldest depiction of an animal (almost 45,500 years ago): The animal depicted is a warty pig painted on the wall.
    • Lastly, one of the caves contains what researchers describe as possibly the earliest known narrative scene in prehistoric art depicting a hunting scene.
    Key Findings of the study:

     Salts on Rocks:

    • The researchers studied the flakes of rock that have begun to detach from cave surfaces.
    • It found salts such as calcium sulphate and sodium chloride on three of the cave samples.
    • These salts also form crystals on rock surfaces, causing them to break.
    Change in Temperature and Humidity:
    • The artworks made with pigments are decaying due to a process known as haloclasty.
    • Haloclasty is a type of physical weathering caused by the growth of salt crystals. It occurs due to repeated changes in temperature and humidity, caused by alternating wet and dry weather in the region.

    Natural Disasters:

    • Indonesia has also experienced several natural disasters in recent years, which have quickened the process of deterioration.
    • Firstly, Researchers have recommended regular physical and chemical monitoring of the sites to reduce environmental degradation.
    • Secondly, preservation efforts undertaken at the French and Spanish prehistoric cave art sites such as Lascaux and Altamira should also be implemented here.

    Source: Indian Express

  • Webinar on “Khajuraho Temples” Under Dekho Apna Desh
    What is the News? 

    The Ministry of Tourism organizes a webinar on “ Khajuraho Temples of Architectural Splendour” under Dekho Apna Desh.

    About Dekho Apna Desh webinar

    The Ministry of Tourism launched the ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ webinar series in April 2020. Its objective is to create awareness about and promote various tourism destinations in India. It is also an effort to showcase India’s rich diversity under Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.
    Read Also- Coal sector reforms to reduce CO2 emissions

    About Khajuraho Temples:
    • Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a group of Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh.
    • Built by: the Chandella rulers between AD 900 and 1130.
    • Situated in: within the Vindhya Mountain range in Central India.
    • UNESCO Site: The temple got the status of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in 1986.
    • Style: The temples are famous for their Nagara-style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures.
    • Temples: The temples are categorized into three groups that are Eastern, Western and Southern.
      • To name a few temples are Kandariya Mahadev Temple, Chaunsat Yogini Temple, Brahma Temple, Chitragupta Temple, Devi Jagdamba Temple, Lakshmana Temple, Matangeshwar Temple, Parsvanath Temple.
    • Significance: These temples are famous for intricate & exceptional carvings and surprising architectural skills. The first documented mention of Khajuraho was made in 641 by Xuanzang, a Chinese pilgrim.
      • Later, Khajuraho temples also found mention by Abu Raihan al Biruni in AD 1022 and the Arab traveler Ibn Battuta in AD 1335.
    • Government Initiatives: The Ministry of Tourism included Khajuraho Temples as one of the sites under the “Iconic Tourist Sites Initiative”.
      • Iconic Tourist Sites Initiative announced in Budget 2019-20. It aims to develop the selected sites into world-class tourist destinations to serve as a model for other tourism sites.

    Note: The 10th-century Bhand Deva Temple in Rajasthan was built in the style of the Khajuraho monuments and is often referred to as ‘Little Khajuraho’.

    Source: PIB

  • Prime Minister calls for e-marketing of “Channapatna toys”

    What is the News?

    The Prime Minister has called upon to explore the possibility of e-marketing of Channapatna toys across the country and the world, during the India Toy Fair 2021,

    The PM advised the artisans to make use of advanced information technology(IT) technology to popularize toys across the world.

    About Channapatna Toys:

    • Channapatna toys are a particular form of wooden toys (and dolls). Artisans of the town Channapatna in Karnataka manufactures them.
    • In Kannada, Channapatna is also called “Gombegala Ooru”, which means toy town in English.
    • Origin: The origin of these toys can be traced to the reign of Tipu Sultan. He invited artisans from Persia to train the local artisans in the making of wooden toys.
    • The Father of the Channapatna toy is Bavas Miyan. He is known for his commitment to helping the local artisans with the art of toy-making and bringing in new technologies to improvise the toys.
    • Wood Used: The Channapatna toys are made of specific wood, called “Aale Mara or the ivory wood”. Vegetable dyes are used for colors that are safe to use and environment-friendly.
    • GI tag: This traditional craft is protected as a geographical indication(GI) under the World Trade Organization(WTO).

    Other Traditional Indian Toys of Different States:

    • Kerala- Kathakali dance dolls, animal-shaped toys, and Woodcraft Toys
    • TamilNadu- Thanjavur Thalaiyatti Bommai , Choppu saman Toys
    • Punjab- Folk toys, Handwai, Chankana, Lattu, Ghuggu
    • Telangana: Nirmal Toys
    • Madhya Pradesh– Adivasi Gudia Hastashilpa (Dolls), Betel Nut’s Toys, and Tin Toys.
    • Uttar Pradesh- lacquered toys and miniature utensils Toys.
    • Jammu & Kashmir- Walnut wood carving toys
    • Chhattisgarh- Clay & Terracotta, Dhokra Metal Casting, Wood Carving, Metal Craft toys.
    • Daman & Diu- Tortoise Shell toys and crafts,
    • Andaman & Nicobar Island- Timber Toys, Coconut shell toys

    Click Here to Read about Toycathon-2021

    Source: The Hindu


Perfoming Arts

  • “Putola Nach”: Assamese string puppetry used in the Covid-19 awareness campaign

    What is the News?

    An Assam-based trust is promoting string puppetry called Putola Nach, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Anamika Ray Memorial Trust(ARMT), an Assam-based trust in collaboration with UNICEF-Assam has produced three short videos using Putola Nach puppetry. These stories aim to create mass awareness of Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.

    Putola Nach:

    • Firstly, Putola Nach is string puppetry of Assam. ‘Putul’ is a word that describes both a doll and a puppet in Bengali while the word ‘Naach’ means Dance.
    • Secondly, the puppetry is performed in three areas with distinct characteristics. These areas are:
      • The First area – Lower Assam: Here this puppetry form is known as Putala-Bhoariya and influenced by the popular folk form Bhoariya.
      • The second area – Majuli island (Upper Assam): Here small wooden puppets are used in the style of the Ankia Naat. (Anika Naat is an act developed by Sankaradev).
      • The third area is North Assam: Here the puppeteers use Bangla, Assamese and Karbi songs in their performances. These are largely borrowed from the mobile theatre of Assam (Bhraymaman).
    • Thirdly, the puppetry includes the episodes of the Ramayana, as well as scenes from the Mahabharata.
    • Further, the puppeteers also add dialogues or chants taken from bhaona (the local traditional theatre of Assam).

    String Puppetry:

    • India has a rich and ancient tradition of string puppets also known as marionettes.
    • The puppets in this form have jointed limbs, controlled by strings allowing for more flexibility. This greater ability to control makes them the most articulate of all the puppets but also the most challenging.

    Types of String Puppetry:

    • Kathputli – Rajasthan
    • Kundhei — Odisha
    • Gombeyatta — Karnataka
    • Bommalattam — Tamil Nadu

    Source: The Hindu

  • “Tholpavakoothu” the shadow leather puppetry to be Performed using Robots

    What is the News?

    For the first time, Tholpavakkoothu, the famous shadow leather puppetry will tell the stories of the Ramayana with the help of robots.


    • Tholpavakoothu is a form of shadow leather puppetry that is practiced in Kerala. It is also known as Nizhalkkoothu and Olakkoothu.
    • Temple art form: It is a traditional temple art. It has roots in Palakkad and neighboring regions in Kerala. It used to be performed in the Bhadrakali temples of Palakkad for telling tales from the Ramayana.
    • Origin: It is believed to have originated in the ninth century AD and uses Kamba Ramayana as its basic text.
    • Made up of: The puppets used to be made out of deerskin but are now typically made from goatskin. The puppets are painted in vegetable dyes, as these dyes last long.
    • Instruments used: The instruments used for the art form include Ezhupara, Chenda, and Maddalam.
    • Puppeteer: The lead puppeteer is usually called a pulavar. It is an honorific given to a puppeteer who is also a scholar.

    Source: The Hindu

  • Govt approves inclusion of four indigenous sports in Khelo India Youth Games 2021

    Source: Click here

    News: Sports Ministry has approved the inclusion of four indigenous Games to be a part of Khelo India Youth Games 2021.The games include Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta and Mallakhamba.


    • Gatka: It is a traditional martial art form originated from Punjab.It is associated with the Nihang Sikh Warriors and is used both as self-defense as well as a sport.
    • Kalaripayattu also known as Kalari is an Indian martial art that originated in Kerala.It is believed to be the oldest surviving martial art in India.
    • Thang-Ta also known as Huyen Lallong is a martial art form of Manipur and has been practised by the Meiteis. It is dedicated to fighting skill and worship.
    • Mallakhamba: It is a traditional sport from Indian subcontinent and has been well-known in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.It involves gymnasts performing aerial yoga or gymnastic postures and wrestling grips in concert with a vertical stationary or hanging wooden pole, cane, or rope.

    What is Khelo India?

    • Khelo India Programme: It was introduced by the Ministry of Sports and Youth affairs.
    • Aim: To revive the sports culture in India at the grass-root level by building a strong framework for all sports played in our country and establish India as a great sporting nation.
    • Objectives:
      • Mass participation of youth in annual sports competitions through a structured competition;
      • Identification of talent
      • Guidance and nurturing of the talent through existing sports academies and new set up either by the central Government or State Government or in PPP mode.
      • Creation of Sports Infrastructure at mofussil, Tehsil, District, State levels among others.
    • Merger: The scheme is a merger of three schemes namely:
      • Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan: Infrastructure in rural areas and encouraging sports through competitions
      • Urban Infrastructure Scheme: Development of Infrastructure in urban areas.
      • National Sports Talent Search: Identifying sports talent.
    • Key Features of the Scheme:
      • Under the scheme, Talented players identified in priority sports disciplines at various levels by the High-Powered Committee will be provided annual financial assistance of INR 5 lakh per annum for 8 years.
      • State wise budget allocation is not made and projects are sanctioned based on their viability. Funds are released project wise.
    • Verticals: To meet the objectives of Khelo India, the entire programme is divided in 12 verticals as mentioned in the below picture:

    Khelo India 1

    Note: Sports being a State subject, the responsibility of promotion of sports, including identification of young talent and its nurturing rests with State Governments. Government of India supplements the efforts of State Governments through its various schemes.

Festivals and others

  • Official Language Status for “Tulu Language” Demanded

    What is the News? 

    Several organizations have initiated a campaign in Karnataka and Kerala. They are demanding the official language status for Tulu.

    About Tulu Language:
    • Tulu is a Dravidian language. It is mainly spoken in two coastal districts, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi of Karnataka and Kasaragod district of Kerala.
      • Kasaragod district is called the ‘Sapta bhasha Samgama Bhumi (the confluence of seven languages)’ and Tulu is one among the seven.
    • Thus, the Tulu speakers mainly from Karnataka and Kerala are requesting an official language status for Tulu by its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.
    Tulu Art and Culture:
    • Tulu has a rich oral literature tradition with folk-song forms like paddana and traditional folk theatre yakshagana.
    • Tulu also has an active tradition of cinema, with around 5 to 7 Tulu language movies produced a year.
    • Moreover, Tulu films are screened every day in Mangalore and Udupi in at least one theater.
    Why Should Tulu be included in the Eight Schedule?
    • Firstly, According to the 2011 Census, there are around 18 lakh native speakers of Tulu in India. This is more than the speakers of Manipuri and Sanskrit, which have the Eighth Schedule status.
    • Secondly, Robert Caldwell (1814-1891), in his book, “A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Or South-Indian Family of Languages” has called Tulu as one of the most highly developed languages of the Dravidian family.
    • Thirdly, Article 29 of the Indian Constitution provides that a section of citizens with a distinct language, script or culture have the right to conserve the same.
    • Lastly, the Yuelu Proclamation made by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at Changsha, China in 2018 provides for the protection and promotion of linguistic diversity.

    Advantages of including Tulu in Eight Schedule: If it is included in the Eighth Schedule, it would get the following benefits:

    • Recognition from the Sahitya Akademi.
    • Translation of Tulu literary works into other languages.
    • Members of Parliament (MP) and Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) could speak Tulu in Parliament and State Assemblies, respectively.
    • Option to take competitive exams in Tulu including all-India competitive examinations like the Civil Services exam.

    Source: Indian Express

  • What is “Shigmotsav Festival” of Goa?
    What is the news?

    There is a rise in Covid-19 cases across a number of states in the country. However, the Goa government permitted the celebrations of the Shigmotsav Festival. Questions are being raised over the scale of celebrations of the festival in Goa.

    About Shigmotsav Festival:
    • Shigmotsav festival also known as Shigmo is a spring festival celebrated in the state of Goa.
    • The festival is the celebration of a rich, golden harvest of paddy by the tribal communities of Goa.
    • Communities: Agricultural communities including the Kunbis, Gawdas and Velips celebrate the festival.
    Key Features of the Shigmotsav Festival:
    • Firstly, the festival begins with ‘Naman’. It means the invocation of the local folk deities on the village stage or the village ‘maand’.
    • Secondly, Instruments used: The percussion instruments like the Ghumat, Dhol, Mhadle and Tashe are used by the male folk. This is called the ‘romta mell’.
    • Thirdly, Folk Dances: Many dances performed by the participating communities. This includes Folk dances like Ghode Modni (a dance of equestrian(horse riding) warriors), Gopha and Phugadi, etc.
    • Lastly, during the festival, the Goa government organize float parades. This draw both domestic and international tourists.

    Source: Indian Express


  • ‘Jaapi’|’xorai’ |’gamosa’ in Assam
    What is the News?

    Decorative jaapi (field hats), hand-woven gamosa, and bell-metal xorais are making frequent appearances in Assam as the election is coming closer.

    About Jaapi:
    • Jaapi is a conical hat. It is made of bamboo and covered with dried tokou leaves (Tokou is a palm tree found in the rainforests of Upper Assam).
    • Uses:
      • Jaapi is most often used in official functions in Assam to felicitate guests.
      • Farmers also use jaapi in Assam. They use them to protect themselves from the harsh weather, both sun and rain while working in the fields.
    About Xorai:
    • Xorai is essentially a tray with a stand at the bottom with or without a cover. Every Assamese household has it.
    • Uses:
      • Xorai is primarily used as an offering tray during prayers. They are also used to serve tamale-paan (betel-nut) to guests.
      • It is also presented along with the jaapi and gamosa while felicitating someone.
    • Made of: The bulk of xorai in Assam are made in the state’s bell metal hub Sarthebari in the Bajali district.
    About Gamosa:
    • Gamosa is an article of significance for the people of Assam. It is generally a white rectangular piece of cloth with primarily a red border on three sides and red woven motifs on the fourth.
    • Made: The most common material for making gamosa is cotton yarn. But on special occasions, they are also made from Pat silk.
    • Uses: It can be used at home as a towel (uka gamosa) or in public functions (phulam/floral gamosa). This is also used to felicitate dignitaries or celebrities.

    Source: Indian Express

  • 11th edition of “Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav”

    What is the news?

    The 11th edition of the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav is being held in West Bengal this year.

    Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav:

    • Nodal Ministry: It is a festival started by the Ministry of Culture in the year 2015.
    • Objective: It enhances mutual understanding and bonding between people of diverse cultures. Thereby it secures stronger unity and integrity of India.
    • Participation of Zonal Centres: The festival witnesses the active participation of Seven Zonal Culture Centres. These zonal centres play a key role in taking the vibrant culture of India to the masses.
    • Significance: The festival is instrumental in showcasing folk and tribal art, dance, music, cuisines & culture of one state in other states. It is reinforcing the cherished goal of “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” and at the same time supporting their livelihood.
    • The 10th edition of the festival was held in Madhya Pradesh in October 2019.

    Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme:

    • It was launched by the Prime Minister in 2016. It will promote engagement amongst the people of different States/UTs to enhance mutual understanding and bonding between people of diverse cultures. Thereby it is securing stronger unity and integrity of India.
    • The states carry out activities to promote a sustained and structured cultural connect. Activities are taken in the areas of language learning, culture, traditions & music, tourism & cuisine, sports, and sharing of best practices.

    Source: The Hindu 

Government initiatives

  • Preserving National Archives annexes of India

    Synopsis- The government proposes to remove the National Archives of India’s Annexes as a part of the Central Vista redevelopment project. But the government proposal to remove the National Archives annexes required proper planning and execution to manage the process of shifting invaluable archives.

    • A group of archivists, scholars, historians, students, among others from across the world filed a petition. The petition has urged for greater transparency in the proposed removal of National Archives annexes.
    • The petition also mentions that there has been no public consultation regarding the National Archives annexes. Further, the government proposal also not mentioned how to manage the process of shifting invaluable archives.
    Importance of National Achieves of India

    The National Archives of India contains records that contained several centuries of Indian history.

    • The archival records include 4.5 million files, 25,000 rare manuscripts, 100,000 plus maps, treaties, 280,000 pre-modern documents and several thousand private papers.
    • It also preserved the cartography section and 1,50,000 oriental records in Persian, Arabic and Urdu.
    • According to UNESCO, the National Archives birchbark and clay-coated Gilgit Manuscripts are India’s oldest surviving manuscripts.
    • So, The National Archives of India documents are naturally brittle and require delicate, expert handling. The loss or damage to a single object or archival record would be an irrevocable loss.
    The present condition of NAI

    Read Also :-Central Vista Project – Demolition of National Institutions

    • Poor maintenance of Archives:  A series of articles published in The New York Times in 2012, highlighted the vulnerable state of the National Archives. The articles mention that Indian archives are exposed to humid weather, staff negligence and mishandling, and improper preservation methods. This led to ruining of national archives. The articles especially mentioned the vulnerability of letters penned by Mohandas K. Gandhi, B.R. Ambedkar, Gopalkrishna Gokhale, and other eminent Indian nationalists in particular.
    • At present, there is a lack of expertise to manage certain national archives. This leads to the locking up of some rare documents in Persian, Urdu, Arabic, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Tamil, Malayalam, and Modi (records from Maharashtra).
    Suggestion to shift the National Archives annexes
    • Wider public consultation is the need of the hour: The Indian government should arrange for public consultation. For example, the Federal Government of the United States decided to move the National Archive, there were extensive public consultations. No such measures were taken in India.
    • Required careful planning and execution in moving the Archives
      • Experts need to produce a detailed report on how to move the contents and share it with the government.
      • They should also recommend an integrated national strategy to archival management that includes state archives, as state archives are also in bad condition.
    • Getting adequate information from global practices: Many best global practices are available on shifting national archives. For example, The British Library’s guide on “Moving Library and Archive Collections” is concise and comprehensive. India can follow such a guide to shift the national archives without any disruption.

    Source – The Hindu

    Read Also :-National Archives of India

  • Issue of shifting National Archives of India’s annexes – Explained, pointwise

    The Government of India’s Central Vista redevelopment project is being treated as a national priority amid a pandemic. The project will shift the National Museum of India, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA). The project will also remove the National Archives of India’s annexes and rebuild them.

    Thus, last month nearly 76 scholars, artists, writers, curators, and museum professionals highlighted major concerns associated with the project. Further, the government is also required huge government expenditure to complete the project. Shifting the National Archives of India’s annexes presents some inherent challenges to the government.

    About National Archives of India(NAI)
    • National Archives of India (NAI) is a custodian of the non-current records of the enduring value of the Indian Government. It holds them in trust for the use of administrators and scholars.
    • Origin: It was originally established as the Imperial Record Department in 1891 in Calcutta(Kolkata). This department was then transferred to the new capital, New Delhi, in 1911. Later, it was shifted into the present building in 1926.
    • Nodal Ministry: It functions as an Attached Office of the Department of Culture under the Ministry of Culture.
    • Headquarters: New Delhi. It also has a Regional Office at Bhopal and three Record Centres at Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, and Pondicherry.
    • Abhilekh patal is an online portal to access the National Archives of India’s reference media and its digitized collections via the internet.
      • The name ‘Abhilekh patal’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Abhilekh’ meaning the records of ancient times and the word ‘patal’ meaning the platform, board, or surface.
    Significance of National Archives of India:

    Several centuries of India’s history lie in the documents that make up the National Archives of India. It has a vast corpus of records viz., public records, oriental records among others which constitute an invaluable source of information.

    • The archival records include 4.5 million files, 25,000 rare manuscripts, more than 100,000 maps, treaties, 280,000 premodern documents, and several thousand private papers. It is the biggest archival repository in South Asia.
    • According to UNESCO, the birchbark and clay-coated Gilgit Manuscripts in the National Archives are, “the oldest surviving manuscripts in India”. These include “canonical and non-canonical Buddhist works that throw light on the evolution of Sanskrit, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mongolian, Manchu and Tibetan religion-philosophical literature”.
    • The annexe also houses the cartography section and 1,50,000 oriental records in Persian, Arabic, and Urdu.
    • The National Archives Annexe also hosted technical training in the preservation and allied subjects for archivists across India.
    • Further, The National Archives’ “Annexe” is also called as the “Research Room” among historians. They conduct their historical research, Ph.D research in the Annexe building.

    The loss or damage to any single object or archival record will cause an irrevocable loss.

    Justifications in shifting the National Archives of India’s annexes
    1. Better maintenance of Archives:  A series of articles published in The New York Times in 2012, highlighted the vulnerable state of the National Archives. The articles mention that Indian archives are exposed to humid weather, staff negligence and mishandling, and improper preservation methods. This led to ruining of national archives. The articles especially mentioned the vulnerability of letters penned by Mohandas K. Gandhi, B.R. Ambedkar, Gopalkrishna Gokhale, and other eminent Indian nationalists in particular.
      • With the shift to a new place, the new annexe building can provide a better environment for maintaining the archives in a better way.
    2. Enhanced display potential of national archives in the future: At present, there is a lack of expertise to manage certain national archives. This leads to the locking up of some rare documents in Persian, Urdu, Arabic, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Tamil, Malayalam, and Modi (records from Maharashtra). With the new annexe building, these factors can also be considered and provide better access to Indian historians and students.
    3. The move is in line with international practices. For instance, the Egyptian Government is planning to replace the crowded Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in Cairo with an impressive Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza.
    Challenges in shifting the National Archives of India’s annexes
    1. Division of cultural buildings: the vision of a single, linked cultural district is disregarded in the Central Vista Redevelopment Project.
      • For instance, the existing architecture plan has four cultural buildings which are arranged to form a single, linked cultural district. (Archaeological Survey of India, the National Museum, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, the National Archives).
      • However, according to the Central Vista Redevelopment Projectall four cultural buildings will be set up in different places. Similarly, the new annexe building may not be physically connected to the National Archives of India
    2. The scale of arranging packers and movers for each of the archives poses a big logistical challenge. The packers and movers have to count the moisture, humidity, temperature changes, etc. that can impact the archives.
    3. Lack of safety: Many buildings in the North and South Blocks are structurally unsafe. They are also ill-equipped to meet even the basic fire and earthquake safety norms. Moving prestigious assets such as national museums and national archives to that location will make the assets more vulnerable.
    4. Lack of public data: National Archives of India website as of now do not have any notification about the demolition, plans for the safe removal of materials, and any indication of how long access might be cut off for the public.
    5. Make Indian historians in a disadvantaged state in a short time: Outside India, the British Library is one of the largest repositories for India’s Colonial archives. To shift the National archives of India to a new place, it has to be closed for an indefinite time (until the proper shift to a new place is done). Historians around the world have access to British libraries have the exclusive right to write Indian history as Indian historians cannot access national archives. This will create differential access among students, researchers, and scholars located in India and abroad
    Suggestions to shift the National Archives of India’s annexe building
    1. Wider public consultation is the need of the hour: The Indian government should arrange for public consultation. For example, the Federal Government of the United States decided to move the National Archive, there were extensive public consultations. No such measures were taken in India.
    2. Getting adequate information from global practices: Many best global practices are available on shifting national archives. For example, The British Library’s guide on “Moving Library and Archive Collections” is concise and comprehensive. India can follow such a guide to shift the national archives without any disruption.
    3. Bring in private talent: The government can bring in the private sector to construct a world-class building within the next two years as part of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). This will not only reduce government expenditure but also bring in new talents, faster completion of projects, etc.

    The National Archives is the primary repository of documents on India’s past. With the advancement in technology, the speed of excavations in the country increased manifold. This would generate greater artefacts in the future, that would require bigger storage space. So, the government has to use the pandemic to shift not only the National Archives of India but also the National Museum and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.

  • Reason behind the decision to shift the National Museum


    The government is planning to shift the National Museum in Delhi to the North and South Blocks. This would serve the collection, comfort, and audience experience needs of the Museum in a better way.

    • The National Museum in Delhi is a repository of India’s rich history and proud heritage.
    • However, now the government has planned to shift it to the North and South Blocks.
    Why the national museum is being shifted?
    • Bigger space: The new location is four and a half times bigger than the current space. This would enable organizing bigger and better cultural events. Bigger space would also allow hosting national and international travelling exhibitions, which is not possible in current space.
      • Advancement in technology has increased the speed of excavations in the country. This would generate greater artefacts in future which would require bigger storage space.
    • Enhanced display potential: Current building only displays 6% of its 2 lakh cultural collections available with the museum. The new museum would enable the creation of additional galleries for enhancing display potential.
    • Expansion of National Museum Institute: The new building would enable the expansion of the National Museum Institute (NMI). The students of NMI would benefit from a large increase in laboratory, gallery and teaching facilities. 
      • Further, it will allow incorporation of NMI’s programmes in Museology, Art History and Conservation along with other programmes in Archaeology, Archival Studies and so on.
    • Vulnerable & old design: The current building is of outdated design and more vulnerable to disasters and pests attacks.
    • The move is in line with international practices. For instance, the Egyptian Government is planning to replace the crowded Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in Cairo with an impressive Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza.
    Way Ahead:
    • There are certain challenges associated with the National Museum. But, the revamped National Museum would become the foundation for a vibrant museum movement in India. 
    • The government should duly preserve the artefacts until the new building is completed. Upon completion, there should be careful movement of artefacts with safe packing and robust transportation facilities.

    Source: The Hindu

  • Challenges involved in Shifting the  National Museum of India

    Synopsis:  Shifting the National Museum of India as per the Central Vista Redevelopment Project has many issues and challenges.


    According to the plans of the “Central Vista Redevelopment Project”, the National Museum of India will be shifted to the South Block offices as well as the North Block offices of the Indian government.

    What are the issues and challenges involved in shifting the National Museum of India?
    1. First, the major issue is that the vision of urban planning for a single, linked cultural district is disregarded in the Central Vista Redevelopment Project.
      • For instance, the existing architecture plan in which the four cultural buildings are arranged form a single, linked cultural district. (Archaeological Survey of India, the National Museum, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, the National Archives).
      • However, according to the Central Vista Redevelopment Project, all four cultural buildings will be set up in different places.
    2. Second, implementing the Central Vista Redevelopment Project results in Disaggregation, rather than the unification of India’s cultures. For instance, The National Museum’s collections have to be split up. Some in the Red Fort, some in storage, some in new buildings.
    3. Third, the scale of arranging packers and movers of each of the Museum’s artifacts poses a big logistical challenge.
    4. For instance, the Museum houses a variety of artifacts, from small delicate objects to as heavy as a tonne. For example, paintings on birch-bark, palm leaf, and paper, Pallava and Chola sculptures weigh many tonnes.
    5. Fourth, there is absence of more qualified conservation personnel and trained staff. They are required to file the documentation about the condition of the artifacts at the time of packing. For example, recently, Vacancies for 92 posts at the National Museum were closed as finding qualified specialists in India could not be completed for years.
    6. Fifth, the lack of public information about the collections in a museum will reduce accountability and transparency in the shifting process. For instance, in many world museums, each artifact is connected to an online location index by providing a way barcode number.
      • It allowed curators, the conservators, and researchers with access to the collections even while they were in storage.
      • More importantly, they allowed the inventory to be safeguarded. However, the National Museum has more than 2,06,000 objects, but the official Museums of India website still only has a fraction of the collection on it.
    7. Sixth, issue of cost and time. Refurbishing old buildings such as the North and South Blocks to provide the facilities for a museum will cost money and time. Also, it demands exceptional skill, and few architects have the necessary experience in adapting historic buildings.
    8. Seventh, lack of safety. Many buildings in the North and South Blocks are structurally unsafe. They are also ill-equipped to meet even the basic fire and earthquake safety norms.

    Source: The Hindu

How to Read History for UPSC IAS – for beginners

History for UPSC is divided into three parts Ancient, Medieval and Modern India. History is significant part of both UPSC Prelims and Mains Syllabus. History questions are asked in UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper- I and UPSC Mains General Studies Paper-I. History is very important subject as every year around 15-20% questions are asked in UPSC Prelims and 2-5 questions are asked in UPSC Mains. With little hard work and right strategy, you can score well in this subject.

In this article, we will discuss the trend analysis of History, overview of the syllabus and preparation strategy for the same.

Trend analysis of History for UPSC:

Subject: History20202019201820172016
UPSC Prelims General Studies-Paper I20 Questions17 Questions22 Questions14 Questions15 Questions
UPSC Mains General Studies Paper- I2 Questions4 Questions3 Questions5 Questions4 Questions
Overview of the Syllabus of History for UPSC:
Subject: HistorySyllabus
UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper-I· History of India and Indian National Movement.
UPSC Mains General Studies Paper-I· Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues.

· The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.

· Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.

· History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.

Preparation Strategy of History for UPSC:
  • Start with syllabus:To read History for UPSC, you must go through the syllabus twice or thrice of both UPSC Prelims and Mains. The syllabus of History for UPSC Prelims has mentioned just one line and for Mains, syllabus has explained little more. Syllabus will help you to analyze and identify what all you have to study.
  • Segregate the syllabus:As mentioned above, syllabus of History for UPSC is not given in detail. So, your next task before you start your preparation is to segregate the syllabus in to sub parts:
    • Ancient History- Initial period (stone age) to mid of 8thCentury AD.
    • Medieval History- Mid of 8thCentury AD to beginning of 18th Century AD.
    • Modern History- Mid of 18thCentury till Independence of India.
    • History of Post-Independence
  • Basic reading of NCERT textbooks:History is a subject which requires interlinkages of topics. For that you must start your preparation with NCERT textbooks of Class VI and Class XI. It is related to Ancient India. It would be better if you will read old NCERT textbooks. You should focus on topics like, Stone age, Paleolithic age, Mesolithic age, Neolithic age, Chalcolithic age, Indus Valley Civilization, Vedic period, Later Vedic period, Buddhism and Jainism etc. Your focus should be on timeline, social system, religion etc. From this section, questions are asked in both UPSC Prelims and Mains.
    • After that you must read Medieval India- Class VII, Class IX-Story of Civilization Part-I (Old), Class X-Story of Civilization Part-II (Old), Class XI NCERT textbooks. Old NCERT textbooks will be preferred. In Medieval History, you should focus on timeline, religious movements, Rulers and their reign, Art and Architecture, Sufi and Bhakti movements etc. Every year, around 1-3 questions in UPSC Prelims are asked from Medieval India. Still this subject is very important as it provides linkages in History.
    • Just after completing Medieval India, you should start reading Modern India. Modern India includes history about emergence of foreign power in India till India achieved Independence. This section is very important as many questions are asked in both UPSC Prelims and Mains. To understand Modern History, you must read Class VIII and Class XII NCERT textbooks (both Old).In Modern History for UPSC, you must focus on Indian Freedom Struggle and Indian Independence movements, their causes and consequences. Here also Chronology is very important to remember. Instead of wasting time in making notes, you can highlight the important points and read them multiple times.
  • Read standard books:After reading basic NCERT textbooks, you must towards reading standard book of History for UPSC. You must read History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra. After that the most important book for Modern India, which you should read is, Spectrum of Modern India. You should read this book’s each line word by word. Highlight it, learn it byheart, do anything but you must have full command over this book. You should read this book in such a way that, if any question is asked from this book, then you will be able to give answer. This book will also help you create interlinkages of various topics.
    • For post-independence, you can refer India Since Independence by Bipin Chandra and India After Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha.
  • Refer past years’ question papers: Past years’ question papers are very important to prepare History for UPSC. It helps you to analyze nature of the questions asked in both UPSC Prelims and Mains exam. Instead of just referring questions, you must try to solve them. It will help you to analyze your preparation.
  • Solve mock tests:After completing the whole syllabus once, you must solve as many mock tests as possible. It will help you to identify where you get stuck and where you need to enhance your preparation.
  • Answer writing practice:Daily answer writing of History for UPSC is very important to write quality answers in limited span of time. It will also help you in understanding the questions, writing to the point answers etc.
  • Revision:Revision is mandatory in case of History. It will help you to corelate the topics starting from Ancient till Modern History. As the syllabus of History is vast, revision will be important for you to remember the things.