SYNOPSIS [12th OCTOBER,2020] Day 1: IASbaba’s TLP (Phase 2): UPSC Mains Answer Writing (General Studies)

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  • October 13, 2020
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Question Compilation, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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SYNOPSIS [12th OCTOBER,2020] Day 1: IASbaba’s TLP (Phase 2): UPSC Mains Answer Writing (General Studies)


1. The portrayal of Buddha in different forms and moods is a recurring theme in India’s ancient artistic culture. Illustrate with the help of suitable examples.


It expects students to write about how Buddha’s images were influenced at different stages of history and its various depictions and styles (with suitable examples)


Buddhist Art originated on the Indian subcontinent following the historical life of Siddhartha Gautama and thereafter evolved by contact with other cultures as it spread throughout Asia and the world. Therefore, Indian Buddhist art reflects all the important stages in the history of Buddhism.


Buddha images began with representations of Sakyamuni Buddha and later following the spread of Buddhism, Buddha images of different forms and moods were developed according to time period, geographic location, and cultural traditions of an area. 

Responding to religious belief, local craftsmen and artisans created differing Buddha images that were both imposing and tranquil in appearance. 


  1. Stupa-1 at Sanchi: This was built during first century BCE. Buddha is shown symbolically as an empty throne, feet, chhatra, stupas etc. 
  2. Seated Buddha, Katra mound, Mathura: This belongs to the period of second century BCE during Kushana period. Buddha is seen with two Bodhisattvas. Buddha is seated on lion throne and has a large halo around head. There is more flexibility compared to rigid images of the past. 
  3. Gandhara style: Buddha head (2nd century CE) at Taxila, Gandhara, Pakistan has Greco Roman elements. It shows hybridized pictorial conventions with assimilation of Achaemenian, Parthian Bactrian traditions. Buddha is in a spiritual state with wavy hair and fewer ornaments.
  4. Saranath school of sculpture: Seated Buddha at Sarnath developed during 5th century CE represents Dhammachakrapravartana. Buddha is seated on throne in Padmasana. Face is rouund, eyes are half closed. Roundness of cheeks has reduced compared to Kushana period.
  5. Standing Buddha: Another example of Sarnath School of the Gupta art, the standing Buddha holds with his left hand one end of the robe which closely fits the body. The right hand is in abhaya mudra suggesting quelling of fear and promising assurance and protection. A feature that is restricted to the Gupta period is the webbed fingers of the Buddha.


The source of development of Buddha’s images were mainly influenced by geo-political conditions, narratives of life of Buddha, narrations from Jataka stories and Bodhisattva images, which can be seen across different periods of time and different locations.

2. India’s ancient temple architectures depict the vibrant social life and the spiritual sensibilities prevalent during those times. Elucidate.


It expects students to write about depiction of cultural aspects of historical times like social life, spiritual sensibilities with the help of different examples in chronological order and geographical variations.


Temple architecture in ancient India with different styles like Nagara, Dravidian and Vesara facilitated various art forms like sculpting, painting, dance forms and theatre forms. Artistic liberty, royal influence, societal traditions along with religious affinity dominated subjects of sculpting, inscriptions and paintings. 


Evidence of temples in India found since post Mauryan era. Gupta period accelerated temple building in India which continued to flourish till modern times.   

Temple as centre of vibrant social life:

  • Institution of temple: It was like urban centre consists of temple land and various crafts created economic model based on royal patronage. Temples in return of patronage provided legitimacy to rulers of various dynasties. It employed dancing women popularly known as devdasis for deity, dancing teachers, drummers, tailors, goldsmiths and accountants. E.g. Jagannath temple complex in Puri, Meenakshi temple in Madurai, Brihadeshwara temple of Tanjavur.     
  • Inscriptions on temples: Temple patrons included chieftains, landowners, merchants, villages and town assemblies. Merchants generally donated money and livestock, sometimes gold and silver ornaments and took responsibility of perpetual lamps in temples. E.g. Tanjavur temples.
  • The abundance of evidence of women donors in various religious traditions gives a picture of active participation in women in social life.
  • Temple architecture depicts celebration of various festivals and marriages in mandapas of temple and temple premises.  
  • Tirumukkudal Perumal temple inscription of Tamilnadu mentions existence of hospital attached to it and massive land grant to it by Rajendra chola. 
  • Depictions erotic sculptures at Khajuraho temples part of the Hindu tradition of treating kama as an essential and proper part of human life, and its symbolic or explicit display is common in Hindu temples.    
  • Temples as landed magnates in south India and signify the increasing oppression of peasantry and the growth of feudal agrarian relations as per D.N. Jha.  

Spiritual sensibilities:

  • The worship of Yakshas and Yakshinis: Sculptures of Yaksha and Yakshinis in religions of Jain, Buddhists and Hindus were associated with water, fertility, trees, the forest and the wilderness.  
  • Shakti Cult sculptures: Temple architecture indicates Mahishasurmardini sculpture in various temples indicate prevalence of shakti cult and worship of Saptamatrikas. E.g. Sivadol temple Sibasagar, Virupaksh temple pattadakal, Nataraja temple Chidambaram. Yogini sculpture in Chausant Yogini temple at Bheraghat, Khajuraho, Lalitpur.          
  • Puranic Vaishnavism: Worship of various avatars of Vishnu as per Matsypurana and Vayupurana.   Krishna lifting Govardhana Mountain and Vishnu resting on sheshnag at deogarh, Ravan shaking Kailash Mountain of Ellora Kailash temple indicate Puranic themes.
  • Shaivism: It is associated with the worship of Shiva along with Parvati and Ganesha.  Tripurantaka sculpture of Brihadeshwara temple resonates with Chola ruler’s trait of conquests. Sculpture of Linga worship at Mathura temple indicates continuity in belief of fertility cult.  
  • Buddhist iconography in Sirpur temple of Odhisha school in Chhattisgarh along with Hindu sculptures indicate harmony between different religions of ancient India. 
  • Jain temple at Dilwara, mount Abu, Khajuraho Jain temples indicates that Jains were prolific temple builders like the Hindus.  


Temple architecture in Ancient India indicate shift of Vedic Sanatan dharma to Puranic Hinduism with rapidly changing social conditions and rise of Bhakti movement. Temple architecture not only focussed on religious but also secular sensitivities of ancient India.  

3. India has a rich tradition of storytelling through paintings. With the help of suitable examples, examine the periods in India’s history when this practice was highly prevalent.


It expects students to write about various tradition of storytelling through painting in various time periods of Indian history.


Painting and drawing were one of the oldest art forms practised by human beings to express themselves. Use of vegetable and mineral colours, Buddhist and Hindu religious themes, synthesis of Persian and Indian style and adoption of European style in late medieval and early modern period are some of the major characteristics of Indian paintings.    


Painting remains arguably only source to gauge progress of standard of life in Palaeolithic and Mesolithic times. Scenes of paintings help to reconstruct the emotional and cultural sensitivities of prehistoric people.  

Prehistoric times: 

  • Bhimbetka painting: The hunting scenes depict people hunting in groups, armed with barbed spears, pointed sticks, arrows and bows. In some paintings these primitive men are shown with traps and snares probably to catch animals.
  • In the process, some injured men are depicted lying scattered on the ground. In another scene, an animal is shown in the agony of death and the men are depicted dancing. These kinds of paintings might have given man a sense of power over the animals he would meet in the open.
  • In another painting man was killed by wild animal shown indicate harsh realities of their survival. 
  • Lakhudiyar painting: Hand linked painting indicates social life of hunter gatherers.  

Spread of Buddhism in different parts of India led to royal support for Stupas, Viharas and Chaitya constructions by different kings. Rich merchants, officers of rulers also used to fund the cave building and paintings in early Christian times. E.g. Vakataka rulers funded Ajanta cave complex. 

Buddhist Paintings: 

  • Ajanta is the only surviving example of painting of the first century BCE and Buddha, the Jatakas and the Avadanas. Simhala Avadana painting in which the fifth century CE. It depicts jataka stories of Buddha’s previous lives.
  • The themes of the paintings are the events from the life of the merchant simhala is shown with beautiful women.
  • Mahajanaka Jataka story painting at Ajanta describes the future Buddha’s birth as a prince named Mahajanaka. 
  • Painting of Boddhisattva, Chaddanta, is shown removing his own tusk and giving it to the hunter, Sonuttar to depict story of Chaddanta jataka. 

Revival of Puranic Hinduism since Gupta age with flourishing temple architecture and growth of Bhakti movement in southern India created mural paintings of caves and temples. It started depicting stories of Puranas especially in Badami by Chalukya rulers.  

Hindu and Jain paintings: 

  • Mural paintings of Badami (6th to 8th century CE): It depicts stories of Matsyapurana and Vayupurana depicted. Painting of Jain tirthankara Adinath depicts Jain saints relinquishing the world for attainment of knowledge. 
  • Shiva chasing the boar a scene from Kiratarjuniya in which Arjuna fights with Lord Shiva depicted in Lepaksh temple.
  • Painting of Shiva killing Tripuraasura is depicted in Thanjavoor and painting of Rama kills Ravana, a scene from Ramayana panel, Mattancheri Palace.
  • We find many examples of paintings in Ramayana and Mahabharata depicted in the form of continuous paintings such as Pattachitra of Odisha. 

Along with ancient and early medieval period, Sultanate and Mughal period also saw progress of miniature paintings which tried to depict court scenes and ibadat khana discussion as aspect of cultural life. However, there was lack of storytelling through paintings.  Provincial schools of painting in medieval era like various schools of painting in Rajasthan style and Pahari style continued to depict stories of Bhagavata purana.


Paintings helped to reconstruct prevalent socio-religious ideas of ancient times. Paintings brought emotions of characters in stories alive which is not always case for literary sources cultural history.

4. In the age of widespread fake news and misinformation, it has become imperative to regulate the media. Do you agree? Is it possible to make the media organisations behave responsibly without stifling the right to freedom of expression? Share your views.


In the introduction mention what do you mean by fake news and misinformation or give recent example of fake news. Then in the main part of answer mention about causes of spread of fake news, need of regulation of media (try to mention examples), give some measures or innovative solutions to regulate media.


Fake news refers to deliberate creation of misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media shaping belief of people around the nation and world. Fake news, defined by the New York Times as “a made-up story with an intention to deceive”.


Causes of spread of fake news:

  • Lack of verification/authenticity: Everyone is busy in sharing/forwarding news items without verifying news.People don’t care about finding truth behind a news item and instead look for evidence to support their preferred narrative.
  • Social media: It decentralised creation &propagation of fake news. The vastness of social media users and internet makes tracing the origin of fake news almost impossible
  • Lack of legislation: There is no specific law or codes of practices to deal with fake news in India.  Traditional news sources, journalist follow strict code of practices. However, internet enabled a whole new way to publish, share and consume information with very little or no regulation.
  • Organised fake news: Misinformation is no longer considered rare & isolated phenomenon, but appears to be organised and disseminated to target certain section of society.

There is need to regulate media due to following threats posed by fake news:

  • Fake news and misinformation can disturb fraternity & brotherhood in society, which then lead to creating enmity & hatred among two or more communities. It can flare up communal violence, hurt sentiments of people. Example: Child kidnapping rumours leads to lynching by mob in Jharkhand.
  • As communal tendencies emerged in politics due to spread of fake news economic development taken back seat. Social conditions in country impacts the investor’s sentiments.
  • Political parties and political leaders try to polarize voter’s mind which then further leads to growing tension between different sections of society.Political campaigning during elections has progressed from mere mass appeal in name of identity to something akin to psychological warfare. 

By following measures fake news and misinformation can be managed without stifling the right to freedom of expression:

  • Internal regulations: Regulating social media to put proper checks through rigorous internal editorial standards and imposing fines upon its inability to stop proliferating fake news.
  • Accountability of Social Media: Social media websites should be made accountable of such activities so that it becomes their responsibility to have better control over the spread of fake news.
  • Strict regulations:Government should establish new independent agency to verify data circulated in social & other media platforms. The agency should have tasked with presenting real facts and figures.
  • Legislation: Properly define broad forms of fake news to avoid unnecessary litigation and putting in place strong monitoring mechanism for proper implementation. Government should have mechanism for immediately issuing of notice against websites/agencies/peoples involved in fake news.
  • Spreading awareness: About legal and social consequences of fake news. Government must take initiative to make all sections of population aware of realities of fake news. Italy, for example, added ‘recognising fake news’ in school syllabus.


In today’s technologically advanced and connected world, fake news poses a grave threat to democratic setup. Correct steps need to be taken to ensure distinction between news, opinion and rumour.

5. Is it ethical for the judges to become legislators after retirement? Critically examine.


It  expects to ascertain as to what extent the appointment for the Judges to take up positions in the government post-retirement justified. While introducing the question candidate can start with the respective independence and autonomy of judiciary. Whereas in the main body part it is necessary for a candidate to throw light on the negatives and positives of judges becoming legislators after retirement. Then on can conclude with the respective opinions of whether it is ethical  or not for judges to become legislators. 


The judiciary  has been assigned a very significant role in the Indian democratic political system. Therefore, its independence becomes very essential for the effective discharge of the duties assigned to it. To maintain its impartiality and integrity Article 124(7) of the Indian Constitution provides that a retired Supreme Court judge cannot “plead or act in any court or before any authority within the territory of India”. 


Former Chief Justice of India’s  (CJI) nomination to the Rajya Sabha, just four months after his retirement, raises the question on  integrity and impartiality of judges. Hence, it becomes imperative to check the positive as well as negative arguments in this regard. 

Arguments against judges becoming legislature after retirement:

  • The very fact that a judge accepts such an appointment could cast doubt on his judgements. For instance, former CJI had presided over politically sensitive cases (Assam NRC, Sabarimala, Ayodhya, Rafale, CBI) where all the decisions went in favour of the government. 
  • This gave rise to the impression that his nomination was a reward for these ‘favours’. Hence, it also raises a question on the integrity of the such judge who became legislator.
  • The desire of a post-retirement job can influence pre-retirement judgments. Hence, a situation of ‘conflict of interest’ can occur or ‘favouritism’ could take place. 
  • It might also signal that the judiciary is not independent, but is vulnerable to dictates of the executive. Hence, it might hamper the foundational principle of ‘Separation of Powers’.
  • It will undermine the very constitutional values of impartiality in the dispensation of justice. 
  • Deteriorates the Public Perception about the integrity of the Judiciary and thus the functioning of our Democracy.

Arguments in favour of  judges becoming legislature after retirement:

  • Article 124(7) of the Indian Constitution restricts post-retirement appointments in Judiciary itself, but not in posts of president, governor, member of parliament, etc.
  • In this context, Former Chief Justice of India  viewed that membership of the Rajya Sabha was not a job but a service and hence there accepting RS nomination is not ethically conflicting.
  • With regard to judgements, former CJI has said that he did not deliver the judgements alone and that there were other judges also. Hence, there cannot be quid-pro-quo arrangements.

In its 14th report in 1958, the Law Commission noted that retired Supreme Court judges used to engage in two kinds of work after retirement:

  • Firstly, “chamber practice” (a term which would, today, mean giving opinions to clients and serving as arbitrators in private disputes) and secondly, “employment in important positions under the government”. The Law Commission frowned upon chamber practice, but did not recommend its abolition.
  • However, it strongly recommended banning post-retirement government employment for Supreme Court judges because the government was a large litigant in the courts. The Commission’s recommendations were never implemented.

In constitutional democracy, it is time to have a law in place either by way of a constitutional amendment or a parliamentary enactment barring/regulating post-retirement appointments of Judges. 


Several appointments to administrative bodies require a cooling-off period for individuals so as to eliminate the possibility or suspicion of a conflict of interest or quid pro quo. This cooling-off period must be extended to Indian Judiciary. So that people’s trust in the judiciary is maintained and its impartiality will not be questioned citing attack on principle of separation of power. 


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