For the aspirants of Civil Services, it is very important to choose such readings which are more informative as well as less exhaustive to study. The textbooks provided by NCERT are of such kind which contains a complete package of any stream. Such textbooks are very important for the aspirants who are engaged in preparing for various competitive exams. The aspirants always faces challenges to completed their given syllabus of respective exams, so, NCERT textbooks have been proved as a better tools for the preparation competitive Exams.
Chapter 1: WHAT, WHERE, HOW AND WHEN?
There are several things we can find out — what people ate, the kinds of clothes they wore, the houses in which they lived. We can find out about the lives of hunters, herders, farmers, rulers, merchants, priests, crafts persons, artists, musicians, and scientists. We can also find out about the games children played, the stories they heard, the plays they saw, the songs they sang.
Chapter 2: ON THE TRAIL OF THE EARLIEST PEOPLE
We know about people who lived in the subcontinent as early as two million years ago. Today, we describe them as hunter-gatherers. The name comes from the way in which they got their food. Generally, they hunted wild animals, caught fish and birds, gathered fruits, roots, nuts, seeds, leaves, stalks and eggs. The immense variety of plants in a tropical land like ours meant that gathering plant produce was an extremely important means of obtaining food.
Chapter 3: FROM GATHERING TO GROWING FOOD
Today, most of our food such as fruit, vegetables, grain, milk and meat comes from plants that are grown and animals that are reared. Different plants grow in different conditions — rice, for example, requires more water than wheat and barley. This explains why farmers grow some crops in some areas and not in other areas. Different animals too, prefer different environments — for instance, sheep and goat can survive more easily than cattle in dry, hilly environments. But, as you saw in Chapter 2, women and men did not always produce their own food.
Chapter 4: IN THE EARLIEST CITIES
Very often, old buildings have a story to tell. Nearly a hundred and fifty years ago, when railway lines were being laid down for the first time in the Punjab, engineers stumbled upon the site of Harappa in present-day Pakistan. To them, it seemed like a mound that was a rich source of ready made, high quality bricks. So they carried off thousands of bricks from the walls of the old buildings of the city to build railway lines. Many buildings were completely destroyed
Chapter 5: WHAT BOOKS AND BURIALS TELL US
You may have heard about the Vedas. There are four of them – the Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda. The oldest Veda is the Rigveda, composed about 3500 years ago. The Rigveda includes more than a thousand hymns, called sukta or “well-said”. These hymns are in praise of various gods and goddesses. Three gods are especially important: Agni, the god of fire; Indra, a warrior god; and Soma, a plant from which a special drink was prepared.
Chapter 6: KINGDOMS, KINGS AND AN EARLY REPUBLIC
Choosing leaders or rulers by voting is something that has become common during the last fifty years or so. How did men become rulers in the past? Some of the rajas we read about in Chapter 5 were probably chosen by the jana, the people. But, around 3000 years ago, we find some changes taking place in the ways in which rajas were chosen. Some men now became recognised as rajas by performing very big sacrifices.
Chapter 7: NEW QUESTIONS AND IDEAS
Siddhartha, also known as Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, was born about 2500 years ago. This was a time of rapid change in the lives of people. As you saw in Chapter 6, some kings in the mahajanapadas were growing more powerful. New cities were developing, and life was changing in the villages as well (see Chapter 10). Many thinkers were trying to understand these changes in society.
Chapter 8: ASHOKA, THE EMPEROR WHO GAVE UP WAR
The lions that we see on our notes and coins have a long history. They were carved in stone, and placed on top of a massive stone pillar at Sarnath (about which you read in Chapter 7). Ashoka was one of the greatest rulers known to history and on his instructions inscriptions were carved on pillars, as well as on rock surfaces. Before we find out what was written in these inscriptions, let us see why his kingdom was called an empire.
Chapter 9: VITAL VILLAGES, THRIVING TOWNS
We often take the use of iron for granted today. Things made of iron (and steel) are a part of our daily lives. The use of iron began in the subcontinent around 3000 years ago. Some of the largest collections of iron tools and weapons were found in the megalithic burials, about which you read in Chapter 5.
Chapter 10: TRADERS, KINGS AND PILGRIMS
You read about the Northern Black Polished Ware in Chapter 9. This fine pottery, especially bowls and plates, were found from several archaeological sites throughout the subcontinent. How do you think it reached these places? Traders may have carried them from the places where they were made, to sell them at other places.
Chapter 11: NEW EMPIRES AND KINGDOMS
Arvind was supposed to be acting as Samudragupta, a famous ruler of a dynasty known as the Guptas. We know about Samudragupta from a long inscription, actually a poem in Sanskrit, composed by his court poet, Harishena nearly1700 years ago. This was inscribed on the Ashokan pillar at Allahabad.
Chapter 12: BUILDINGS, PAINTINGS AND BOOKS
The iron pillar at Mehrauli, Delhi, is a remarkable example of the skill of Indian crafts persons. It is made of iron, 7.2. m high, and weighs over 3 tonnes. It was made about 1500 years ago. We know the date because there is an inscription on the pillar mentioning a ruler named Chandra, who probably belonged to the Gupta dynasty (Chapter 11). What is amazing is the fact that the pillar has not rusted in all these years.