[ Day 2 – Synopsis ] 75 Days Mains Revision Plan 2022 – Art & Culture & Ethics – PuuchoIAS



NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.

Art and Culture

Q1. In what ways did Paintings in medieval India act as a mirror of social reality and the times. (10M)


Paintings in medieval India date back to the early 9th century, a period dominated by the Chola rulers, who encouraged art and literature. While most of the Ancient paintings are Mural paintings which are of large size and painted on walls, Medieval paintings consist of murals, frescos as well as Miniature paintings (of small size but detailed).


General features of Medieval paintings.

  • Majority are miniature paintings and of portrait
  • Most of them show a Side profile, bulging eyes and pointed nose.
  • Women were shown with long hair and slim waist.
  • Traditional cloth for both men and women.
  • Mughals paintings show a Fairer shade of skin, and Rajasthan Paintings show a Darker shade of skin.

Paintings in medieval India acted as a mirror of social reality and the times.

Delhi Sultanate paintings

  • Shows Persian Influence: They are the Fusion of Persian elements and the Indian traditional system.
    • We have references of the coming of Persian and Arabic illustrated manuscripts from Iran and the Arab world for the Muslim elites.
  • Natural Themes like trees, rocks etc were included in these paintings, showing the importance given to Nature.
  • Social aspect: During the Delhi Sultanate, the society was in the transition phase. Royalty was divided into the nobility and the chiefs.
    • Paintings of this time (most of them were Illustrated Manuscripts) show these transition through stories- of royal victory or royal darbars or everyday life.
    • ExampleNimatnama Book during the reign of Nasir shah of Mandu, is a book on cookery that shows Cooking skills of that time.

(Figures are given just for illustration purposes and for better understanding)

Pala Paintings: The Pala kings were Buddhists, and remarkably liberal in their attitude to other faiths. In the days of the Palas, the Mahayana cult of the faith developed its Tantrayana-Vajrayana-Kalachakrayana aspects. The Pala miniatures show these cults.

Vijayanagara era paintings   (also called Lepakshi Paintings)                                                

  • These mural paintings were executed on temple walls.
  • They generally do not follow a religious theme, rather they are secular paintings. This shows that Vijaynagar rulers patronized most of the religions.

Mughal Paintings

  • They had distinctive styles as they were drawn from Persian antecedents.
  • The focus shifted from god to glorifying the ruler and showing his life.
  • They focused on hunting scenes, historical events and court scenes.
  • These paintings are of miniature paintings and are known for their diverse themes.
  • Humayun Illustatred paintings can be seen under his regime.
  • Akbar- established a separate department of painting Tasvir Khana.
    • 3D effect and Calligraphy in paintings.
    • Indian influence is added feature in his time.
    • Ex – Tutinama.
  • Jahangir – Introduced Portrait painting and added Naturalistic elements like flora, fauna
  • Shahjahan – Because of European influence artificial elements were added

Reduced the Naturalistic themes and so the liveliness of paintings.

Rajasthani School of paintings.

  • They retained local features, in addition to this practices of Mughals paintings were included.
  • Portrait paintings and court scenes are quite common.
  • Themes from Mythology, poetry and Folk stories show the influence of Bhakti.

Pahari Styles of Paintings.

  • Kangra School – Love scenes of Krishna, and Nala Damayanti can be seen in these paintings. Inspiration from Vaishnavaite Tradition. The painting shows the architecture of hills and distinct clothing styles.
  • Ragamala Paintings – Shows an amalgamation of Art, Poetry and Classical Music.


Thus Medieval era paintings are reflective of the social, Religious, Roayl Court, and Importance of Nature that existed at that point in time.


Q2. Perhaps the greatest contribution of Buddhism and Jainism is in the realm of literature more than anything else. Comment (10M)


Buddhism and Jainism which emerged in the 6th century against social evils like the “Jati” and ” Varna” systems of the Vedic age are a part of Sharamana tradition. Some of their greatest contributions are in Indian literature, which consists of Teachings of Buddha, and Mahavira, Stories of their lives, Rules and the Importance of their respective religion.


Contribution of Buddhism and Jainism to Literature

  • Development of religious as well as non-religious texts: The Buddhist literature can be divided into Canonical (e.g. Tripitikas) and Non-canonical works (e.g. Jatakas)
    • Jain’s non-Agam literature consists of commentary and explanation of Agam literature and independent works, compiled by elder monks, nuns, and scholars.
    • They are written in many languages such as Prakrit, Sanskrit, Old Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannad, Tamil, German, and English
  • Development of common language: Buddha used Pali and Prakrit language to give his sermons and it is in the same language that his teachings have been recorded.
    • Mahavir’s preachings were written in Ardha Magadhi (a form of Prakrit language)- They are called Agams.
  • Development of regional languages: Many regional languages emerged out of the Prakrit language, particularly shauraseni, out of which grew the Marathi language. Also Contributed to the growth of the Kannada language.
    • Jainas composed the earliest important works in Apabhramsha and prepared its grammar.
  • Development of Sanskrit: With the gradual march of time, Sanskrit became the medium of preaching Buddhism.
    • Mahabivasha’ was a book on Buddhism written in Sanskrit. ‘Sariputta Prakarana’Vajra Suchi’ and ‘Sutralankara’ etc. were other Sanskrit books on Buddhism. Thus, literature also flourished due to the rise of Buddhism.
    • Jaina texts like ‘Anga’, ‘Upanga’, ‘Kalpasutra’, ‘Archarangasutra’, ‘Uttaradhyayanasutra’ were also written in Sanskrit.
  • Development of universities further gave impetus to literature: The Buddhist temples and monasteries were used as educational institutes
    • g. Taxila, Nalanda, Udyantpuri, Vikramshila, Vallabhi, and other cities progressed greatly at the height of Buddhist teaching centres; it helped in the development and enhanced the literature in Pali and Sanskrit.
    • The scriptures documented in Pali and Sanskrit were enriched and developed by scholars of the Hinayana and Mahayana sects
    • Somapura Mahavira (under Pala Dynasty): It was the centre of learning for Buddhists, Jains and Hinduism as well. Even Jains were known to reside in Nalanda university.


Although Buddhism and Jainism contributed to other aspects such as Architecture ( e.g. Sanchi Stupas, Barabara Caves of Jains), Paintings ( e.g. Ajanta and Ellora paintings) but the greater contribution was in the form of preachings in the local language and development of literature, which influenced the society away from social hierarchy and towards equality, it allowed and gave equality to women and Shudras, and challenged the orthodox philosophy of that era. Buddhism and Jainism’s contribution is not just limited to India, they also spread to other regions of the World and gave their contribution.



Q3. “The selfish nature of leading a life in the 21st century is inherently at odds with selfless behaviour that ethics demand”. Do you agree with this view? Justify your opinion (10M)


        Selfishness refers to concentrating or seeking one’s own pleasure, gain or advantage without regard for others. Whereas, Selfless refers to being concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.

In this materialistic world, people are more concerned about their own welfare and maximizing self-gains over others.

Selfish nature at odds with selfless behaviour:

  1. Environmental domain; – the people of the 21st century are more consumption centric and their behaviour is inherently causing environmental damage. Environmental problems are closely related to human activities, especially economic activities. Nevertheless, on a personal level, we do not face these problems and seem to avoid them.
    • . As economic activities for self-profit, including money, are the essence of human behaviour, we have reached that level where “selfishness and endless desire are the essences of human beings’ instinct for survival, and as a result, environmental destruction occurs”.
  1. For instance, the use of plastic despite knowing it is harmful to the environment, not taking effective decisions to reduce the impacts of global warming and not committing to the protection of the Amazon forest.
  1. Political life; – politics is the most sought-after profession since ancient times and at least here one should practice ethics as it has a larger influence on the societal level. Unfortunately, in the 21st-century politics as a profession is seen as the corrupt one, due to the selfish behaviour of politicians.
    • . At the international level, most politicians want peace and harmony but in practice they make weapons of mass destruction and many times attack other countries for political and economic gain.
      • . For instance, USA’s role in the Middle East, Arms race among different countries.
  1. The ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia is the latest example of it.
  1. Social Domain; – Selfish behaviour often involves displays of greediness, exploitation, and a lack of concern for how others are impacted. At the societal level, people are concerned more about their own self-interest and rarely do they care about their fellow beings in society.
    • . For instance, rising private schools vs providing free quality education.


  1. Economic domain;-Selfish behaviour practised by MNCs and economic organisations/units has led to wider exploitation of natural resources and creation of negative externalities on the economy and environment which has resulted in polluting of environment and rivers. For instance, pollution of rivers like Ganga, Yamuna etc.
    • . Due to selfish behaviour, many firms are charging higher prices because consumers don’t have any alternatives. However, although the firm benefits from higher profit, it causes inequality and consumers are exploited by the profit-maximizing monopoly.
  2. Personal life; -It Indulges one to promote partiality, nepotism, and favouritism. Many times real talents don’t get the opportunity because of selfish behaviour practised by one’s at a personal level. For instance, Bollywood is known to promote nepotism which has led many actors to criticize it.
    • . During Covid times and even during post-CoVID, we saw many examples of selfish behaviour of people at the personal level.
      • . For instance, hoarding of essential medicines, oxygen cylinders etc. More recently, due to the rise of inflation, many people are hoarding grains so that their selfish needs are fulfilled by getting high prices later.
  1. Also, it may be in your self-interest to play loud music late at night. But, this creates an external cost for your neighbours living nearby. If you pursue your self-interest, it causes deadweight welfare loss because your neighbours can’t sleep.

Selfishness is not sustainable, we face systematic Inequality and Social divides that continue to drive people apart. So Selfless way is the solution to minimize these consequences and maximise the welfare of society.

Way to lead Selfless life:

  1. Nikshkama Karma – Selfless/desireless action mentioned in Bhagavat Geeta by Krishna enables one to maximize the welfare of others.
  2. Cultivating Altruism within ourselves and those around us is a vital step.
  3. Human values like Morality, Ethics, Compassion etc. as the basis of decisions and actions.
  4. Possessing the High virtuous values like Love, Courtesy, Humanity, Impartiality and nonpartisanship.
  5. Learning lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders and reformers like Mahatma Gandhi, Raja Ram Mohan Roy etc.
  6. Maximizing one’s gains but in an ethical way rather than involving in unethical paths.
  7. Restricting oneself to desirable, moral characteristics.
  8. Respecting Each other’s Rights.
  9. Cooperation improves the chances of promoting values due to the things like Resource sharing.


      In this 21st century even if selfishness is not avoided, people pursuing selfish ends, have to ensure that their ends are not at the expense of other interests and thus it has to promote the welfare of all sections of society leading to an ethical society.


Case Study (20M)

Q4. You are posted in a district as a ‘Block Education Officer (BEO)’ to overlook the quality of education at the block level. Few days into the job, you find out that the schools in the block are working in a careless manner. The management of the school just wants to extort money every month in the form of fees without providing quality service to the kids, this has been made possible due to the fact that the block consists of parents who themselves are illiterate and possess no real voice to demand accountability from the schools in the region.

Due to the lackadaisical attitude of the school management, the kids are also picking up activities that are unethical in nature. Your predecessor was hand in glove with these schools and rarely cared to change this situation. Your senior management too have not reciprocated your requests to hold these schools accountable.

In this context, answer the following questions:

a) What are the challenges for you in this situation?

b) What are the possible course of action in this situation? Suggest the course of action you will pick and the reason behind the action.



                          Case study highlights the mismanagement of the education system by school authorities and the misuse of power by high officials in providing quality education in India. The case study also shows prevailing illiteracy at a lower level, and a lack of interest by the higher official to reform the system as a result of all these unethical practices followed by children.


  1. Challenges in this situation.
  2. Prevailing Illiteracy of parents hampers the efforts to solve this issue and to hold schools accountable by people by raising their voices.
  3. Like agreement or close relationship established by schools management along with my predecessor by offering perks.
  4. Lethargic attitude by my senior management to act on my requests.
  5. Unchanging attitude and lack of accountability and transparency by the school management negatively affect the growth of children as they are following Unethical practices.
  6. Lack of Accountability and transparency has been multiplied by dishonest and careless officials.
  7. Profit-minded school management extorts illiterate people for maximizing their profits.


  1. Possible course of actions 
  1. As a Block Education officer, I will personally visit schools and warn the school management about their mismanagement and tell about providing quality education.
  1. If the same lackadaisical attitude is followed by the school management, I will once again request my senior management to take action against
  2. If Senior management once again has not reciprocated my request, I will complain Department of primary and secondary Education.
  1. Educating people about their rights and supporting them to raise their voices against the school management.
  1. Motivating and persuading children to follow ethical, moral practices rather than choosing unethical activities.
  1. Complaining senior management to take action against my predecessor as he/she has been Hand in glove with school management.

Course of action to be followed by me :

I will request and persuade senior authorities to take action against the mismanagement of the education system as it not only compromising the quality of education but also ruins precious learning years of Children as well as the hard-earned income of parents. once again if they have not reciprocated my request I will complain concerned department about the issue and take action against all those involved in this mismanagement of the education system.


  • Senior management misused their power and repeatedly rejected my requests to reform the system.
  • Lackadaisical attitude by the school management compromises the quality of education.
  • To uphold My Values like the voice of conscience, Integrity, Honesty, Courage, and Impartiality.
  • Implementing the Right to education.
  • Quality of education for children will help them to choose ethical practices.


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