History- Important places, persons in news

Sep, 05, 2019

Person in news: Dadabhai Naoroji


  • September 4, 2019 was the 194th birth anniversary of Dadabhai Naoroji, the “Grand Old Man of India”, who was among the first leaders who stirred national consciousness in the country.

Dadabhai Naoroji

  • Born in 1825 at Navsari, in present-day Gujarat, Naoroji was a prolific scholar with varied interests.
  • His distinguished political career aside, Naoroji was a professor of Gujarati, mathematics, and natural philosophy, and also worked as a businessman.
  • Naoroji’s lasting intellectual contribution was to expound the ‘Drain Theory’.
  • He was closely involved with the Indian National Congress in its early phase, and served as the first Indian member of the British parliament.

Early work in England

  • Naoroji began rousing public opinion in England on Indian issues in 1855, after he moved from India to Liverpool for business.
  • His first agitation, in 1859, concerned recruitment to the Indian Civil Service (today’s IAS).
  • During this period, Naoroji worked closely with Irish leaders in England, who found common cause with the Indian nationalist movement.
  • In 1865 and 1866, Naoroji helped found the London Indian Society and the East India Association
  • The two organisations sought to bring nationalist Indians and sympathetic Britons on one platform.
  • As the secretary of the East India Association, Naoroji travelled in India to gather funds and raise national awareness.

Leader of the INC

  • In 1885, Naoroji became a vice-president of the Bombay Presidency Association, was nominated to the Bombay legislative council by Governor Lord Reay, and helped form the INC.
  • He was Congress president thrice, in 1886, 1893, and 1906.
  • The first session of the Congress in 1885 passed a resolution calling for the formation of a standing committee in the British House of Commons for considering protests from legislative bodies in India.
  • Naoroji dedicated his efforts towards this objective when he returned to England in 1886.

Election to the British parliament

  • Naoroji first ran for the British Parliament in 1886, but did not get elected.
  • His second bid in 1892 was successful, when he won the Central Finsbury seat on a Liberal Party ticket.
  • In the British Parliament, Naoroji worked to bring Indian issues to the fore.
  • In 1893, he helped form an Indian parliamentary committee to attend to Indian interests.
  • The membership of the committee significantly grew in numbers in the coming years, becoming an important lobbying force.
  • Naoroji was a vocal critic of the colonial economic policy in India. In 1895, he became a member of the royal commission on Indian expenditure.
  • A moderate himself, Naoroji acted as a liaison between nationalist Indians and British parliamentarians.

Drain Theory

  • Dadabhai Naoroji was among the key proponents of the ‘Drain Theory’, disseminating it in his 1901 book ‘Poverty and Un-British Rule in India’.
  • Naoroji argued that imperial Britain was draining away India’s wealth to itself through exploitative economic policies including:
  1. The heavy financial burden of the British civil and military apparatus in India;
  2. The exploitation of the country due to free trade;
  3. Non-Indians taking away the money that they earned in India; and
  4. The interest that India paid on its public debt held in Britain.
Sep, 04, 2019

Asiatic Society of Bombay


  • On Saturday, the Asiatic Society of Mumbai, which was started by and for white European men in the early 19th century, elected the first woman president in the 215 years of its existence.
  • Prof Vispi Balaporia will head the institution that is a treasure house of remarkable historical artifacts.

Asiatic Society, Mumbai

  • The Asiatic Society is housed in the iconic Town Hall building in the colonial-era Fort precinct and has witnessed the evolution of the city’s intelligentsia in its long history.
  • It is a learned society whose activities include conducting historical research, awarding historians, and running an institute of post-graduate studies.
  • Its library, home to over 1 lakh books, consists of rare manuscripts contributed to it by the East India Company.
  • It has generous donations by the likes of Mountstuart Elphinstone, Jagannath Shankarsheth, Cowasji Jehangir, and Bhau Daji Lad.
  • The library recently scrapped its referral system for membership, thus expanding access to its resources.
  • Among the prized collections of the Society is an original copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and coins issued by Kumaragupta (5th century), Akbar (16th century), and Shivaji (17th century).
  • The Society offers Junior Fellowships for research and recommends scholars for the Tagore National Fellowship of the Ministry of Culture.
  • The Governor of Maharashtra is the Society’s Chief Patron.

A 200-year history

  • The Asiatic Society began its journey in 1804 as the Literary Society of Bombay.
  • It was founded by Sir James Mackintosh, a Scottish colonial administrator who had a keen interest in Oriental studies.
  • In 1826, the Literary Society became the Mumbai arm of the London-based Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland and came to be called the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (BBRAS).
  • In its early days, membership of the Society was restricted to European “gentlemen”, and the “natives” were not allowed to join until 1841.
  • The Bombay Geographical Society and the Anthropological Society of Bombay merged with the BBRAS in 1873 and 1896 respectively.
  • In 1954, the institution was severed from its London parent and became the Asiatic Society of Bombay. In 2002, it acquired its present name.
  • According to the Society’s website, its journal has been in publication since 1841.


Asiatic Society

  • The Asiatic Society was founded by civil servant Sir William Jones on 15 January 1784 in a meeting presided over by Sir William Jones, Justice of the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Calcutta.
  • It aimed to enhance and further the cause of Oriental research.
  • In 1832 the name was changed to “The Asiatic Society of Bengal” and again in 1936 it was renamed as “The Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal”.
  • One of the main activities of the Asiatic Society was to collect the old manuscripts of India. There was an enormous collection of Sanskrit manuscripts with the society.
Sep, 03, 2019

Explained: When India’s interim government was formed in 1946



  • On this day in 1946, the interim government of India led by Jawaharlal Nehru was formed.
  • It was the only such cabinet in India’s history in which arch-rivals Congress and the Muslim League shared power at the Centre.
  • The interim government functioned with a great degree of autonomy, and remained in power until the end of British rule, after which it was succeeded by the Dominions of India and Pakistan.

Formation of India’s interim government 

  • Starting with the Cripps mission in 1942, a number of attempts were made by colonial authorities to form an interim government in India.
  • In 1946, elections to the Constituent Assembly were held following the proposals of the British Cabinet Mission dispatched by the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee.
  • In this election, the Congress obtained a majority in the Assembly, and the Muslim League consolidated its support among the Muslim electorate.
  • Viceroy Wavell subsequently called upon Indian representatives to join the interim government.
  • A federal scheme had been visualized under the Government of India Act of 1935, but this component was never implemented due to the opposition from India’s princely states.
  • As a result, the interim government functioned according to the older Government of India Act of 1919.

The interim cabinet

  • On September 2, 1946, the Congress party formed the government. On September 23, the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) ratified the Congress Working Committee’s decision.
  • The Muslim League initially decided to sit out of the government, and three of the five ministries reserved for Muslims were occupied by Asaf Ali, Sir Shafaat Ahmad Khan, and Syed Ali Zaheer, all non-League Muslim representatives.
  • Two posts remained vacant.
  • However, after Lord Wavell agreed to allot all five reserved portfolios to the Muslim League if it agreed to cooperate, the latter finally joined.
  • In October, the cabinet was reshuffled to accommodate the new Muslim League members, and Sarat Chandra Bose, Sir Shafaat Ahmad Khan and Syed Ali Zaheer from the earlier team were dropped. Baldev Singh, C.H. Bhabha, and John Matthai continued to represent minority communities.

The cabinet after October 1946 was as follows:


  • Vice President of the Executive Council, External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations: Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Home Affairs, Information and Broadcasting: Vallabhbhai Patel
  • Agriculture and Food: Rajendra Prasad
  • Education and Arts: C. Rajagopalachari
  • Defence: Baldev Singh
  • Industries and Supplies: C. Rajagopalachari
  • Labour: Jagjivan Ram
  • Railways and Communications: Asaf Ali
  • Work, Mines and Power: C.H. Bhabha


  • Commerce: Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar
  • Finance: Liaquat Ali Khan
  • Health: Ghazanfar Ali Khan
  • Law: Jogendra Nath Mandal
  • Posts and Air: Abdur Rab Nishtar

Some of the decisions by the cabinet

  • In November 1946, India ratified the Convention on International Civil Aviation.
  • In the same month, a committee was appointed to advise the government on nationalizing the armed forces.
  • In December, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was inducted into the cabinet.

Major Work

Dawn of Indian Diplomacy

  • On September 26, 1946, Nehru declared the government’s plan to engage in direct diplomatic relations with all countries and goodwill missions.
  • The year 1947 saw the opening of diplomatic channels between India and many countries.
  • In April 1947, the US announced the appointment of Dr. Henry F. Grady as its ambassador to India.
  • Embassy level diplomatic relations with the USSR and the Netherlands also started in April.
  • In May, the first Chinese ambassador Dr. Lo Chia Luen arrived, and the Belgian Consul-General in Kolkata was appointed Belgium’s ambassador to India.
  • On June 1, the Indian Commonwealth Relations Department and the External Affairs Department were merged to form the single Department of External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations.

Managing Partition

  • After Partition was announced on June 3, a dedicated cabinet sub-committee was formed to deal with the situation on June 5, and consisted of Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Liaquat Ali Khan, Abdur Rab Nishtar and Baldev Singh.
  • Later, on June 16, a special cabinet committee aimed at tackling the administrative consequences of Partition was created.
  • It included the Viceroy, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Liaquat Ali Khan, and Abdur Rab Nishtar.
  • This committee was later replaced by a Partition Council.
Sep, 02, 2019

The Munich Agreement


Beginning of WW II

  • On this day 80 years ago — September 1, 1939 — German troops marched into Poland, triggering the beginning of World War II, the deadliest military conflict in the history of mankind.
  • Great Britain and France, which had assured help to Poland, declared war on Germany and its allies two days later, on September 3.
  • The beginning of the War exposed to the world the folly of the Munich Agreement that was signed less than a year previously — a deal that has been seen as a disastrous act of appeasement of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime.
  • This event is marked as historical evidence that expansionist totalitarianism cannot be dealt with through placation.

The Sudeten crisis

  • Hitler had threatened to bring war to Europe unless the German-majority areas in the north, south, and west of Czechoslovakia were surrendered to Germany.
  • The German-speaking people living in the area referred to in German had found themselves part of the new country that was created after the German-dominated Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed at the end of WW I in 1918.
  • The annexation of Sudetenland, home to over three million Sudeten Germans, was part of Hitler’s plan to create a “Greater Germany”.
  • Following the Munich Agreement, German troops occupied these areas between October 1 and October 10, 1938.

The Munich Agreement

  • The Agreement was signed among Germany, France, Italy, and Great Britain on September 29-30, 1938.
  • Hitler’s appeasement in an attempt to keep the peace in Europe was strongly supported by Great Britain’s Prime Minister at the time, Neville Chamberlain.
  • After coming back from Munich, Chamberlain waved the piece of paper signed by Hitler and called it a declaration of “peace with honour”.
  • In return for European peace, the Sudetenland region was permitted to be annexed by the Germans.

What changed with the treaty?

  • The Agreement, signed after Hitler met Chamberlain and French PM along with Italy’s Mussolini in Munich, allowed for the cessation to Germany of Sudetenland.
  • The German occupation was to be done in four stages from October 1-10, 1938.
  • The cessation in some places was subject to a plebiscite.
  • The Czechoslovak government was supposed to release from their military and police forces within four weeks of the signing of the Agreement, any Sudeten Germans who wished to be released, and all Sudeten German prisoners.
  • Six months after the Munich Agreement was signed, Hitler went back on his commitments and invaded the whole of Czechoslovakia. War was on its way.
Aug, 24, 2019

Explained: Indian Indentured Labourers


Indentured labourers during colonial period

  • The migration of indentured labour—bonded labour—is a lesser known part of the history of slavery and that of Indian migration.
  • Indentured servitude from India started in 1834 and lasted up till 1922, despite having been officially banned in 1917 by British India’s Imperial Legislative Council after pressure from freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi.

UNESCO recognition

  • In 1998, UNESCO designated August 23 as the International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade & Abolition to commemorate “the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples”.
  • UNESCO also established an international, intercultural project called ‘The Slave Route’ to document and conduct an analysis of the interactions to which it has given rise between Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.

What was indentured migrant labour from India?

  • From 1830 to 1860 the British, French and the Portuguese during the colonization of India prohibited slavery that was implemented by several acts under their individual domains.
  • In Europe in the 1820s, there was a new kind of liberal humanism where slavery was considered inhuman.
  • It was following this ideology that the colonizers stopped slavery in India, only to replace it with another form of bonded servitude and euphemistically term it ‘indentured labour’.
  • This practice of indentured labour resulted in the growth of a large diaspora with Indo-Carribean, Indo-African and Indo-Malaysian heritage that continue to live in the Carribean, Fiji, Réunion, Natal, Mauritius, Malaysia, Sri Lanka etc.

The new contract labourers

  • This migration started post the abolition of slavery to run sugar and rubber plantations that the British had set up in the West Indies.
  • The British Empire was expanding to South America, Africa and Asia and they needed new labour, but slavery was considered inhuman. So they developed the concept of contract labour.
  • The British turned to India and China that had a large population and found the surplus labour they needed to run these plantations in the new colonies.

No change in colonial attitude

  • The abolition of slavery failed to change the mindset of the planters which remained that of ‘slave owners’.
  • They were ‘accustomed to a mentality of coerced labour’ and desired ‘an alternative and competitive labour force which would give them same type of labour control that they were accustomed to under slavery.
  • After ruining the agriculture business in India, they exploited the mass unemployment that had hit small farmers the hardest.
  • The worst affected regions were the modern-day states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
  • They were poor farmers and the indenture lasted for 10 years. They were paid monthly wages and were living on the plantations in these colonies.

Family migration

  • Initially, single men were selected for indenture but the British Parliament decided to encourage family migration to provide “stability”.
  • Encouraging family migration hardly arose out of concern for the welfare of these bonded migrants.
  • According to the terms of indentured labour, the migrants had the right to return after finishing their 10 year terms of indenture.
  • The British were not interested in having them return to their homeland because it wouldn’t be a good return on their investment.
  • For every 100 males who were put on board the ships that transported the migrants, 40 were women, in an attempt to maintain the sex ratio.
  • Due to the skewed sex ratios, many men went on to settle permanently in these colonies and have families.

Why indentured labour was called slavery?

  • Indentured labour was definitely a new kind of slavery.
  • The British attempted to disassociate indentured labour from slavery by calling it an “agreement” when recruiting Indians who would be willing to migrate, to try and hide the true nature of the practice.
  • The British recruited young, single men from regions that had witnessed a collapse of the local agriculture business and were facing shortages and severe famine.
  • Widows who faced socio-cultural stigma wanted to migrate to these new lands to live life on their own terms.
  • According to Mishra, many urban women who were single and employed in various professions also chose to travel to get a fresh start.
  • Most aspiring migrants were misled about the work they would have to engage in, the wages they would receive, the living conditions and the places they were travelling to.

Why was sea voyage perilous for indentured Indian migrants?

  • The journey by sea was long and traumatic, with travel taking approximately 160 days to reach the Caribbean colonies.
  • The comfort of the migrants was not even a consideration for the British and the travellers were loaded onto cargo cargo ships that were not meant to carry passengers.
  • Many of these migrants had never even left their small villages, let alone engaged in travel to such distant lands.
  • On board the ships, there were cramped quarters and little space.
  • Many migrants were forced to sit on open decks that left them vulnerable to direct, harsh weather at sea. Sanitation was poor and there was little access to food and medication.
  • These conditions were particularly difficult for small children and there was high mortality. Those who died on board were simply thrown off the ships into the sea.
  • The migrants also faced physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the European ship captains and there was no means of escape except jumping off the ship into the water.
  • The migrants called it ‘crossing the kala pani ’.
  • Indians were not familiar with the sea and the (cultural) association with sea journeys was that crossing the sea would mean breaking free from attachments in the homeland.

What happened once indentured migrants reached far-flung colonies?

  • The migrants took their culture with them through their language, food and music and the meagre belongings that they were permitted to carry.
  • Once they reached these colonies, they created their unique socio-cultural ecosystems while they were limited to living in the confines of these large plantations.
  • Locals in the Mauritius, Suriname and Fiji opposed the presence of these migrants.
  • After their terms of indenture were over, some migrants returned to India while many stayed back.
  • Those who did stay back did so because they had rebuilt their lives and families in these colonies and were poor and had not been able to maintain contact or connections with their families and country.
  • Their families had forgotten them and there was a cultural gap that had resulted due to the years the migrants had spent overseas.
  • For some others, however, the cultural stigma of having a significant amount of time overseas and untouchability associated with the journey, resulted in a denial of acceptance once they returned to India.

How is indentured labour of Indian migrants commemorated around the world?

  • Along with UNESCO designating August 23 as the International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade & Abolition, several memorials exist around the world in commemoration of Indian indentured labour.
  • In Mauritius, the Immigration Depot or the Aapravasi Ghat in Port Louis was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2006 to mark its importance in world history.
  • Mauritius was the first British colony to receive indentured migrants and records indicate that approximately half a million indentured Indians arrived at the Immigration Depot between 1849 to 1923.
  • On the banks of the Hooghly near the Port of Kolkata, the Suriname Ghat is named after one of the colonies to where ships would depart from Kolkata.
  • At the Suriname Ghat, the Mai-Baap Memorial is an unassuming metal structure that was unveiled by India’s former Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj in 2015.
  • The statue is a replica of the Baba and Mai monument in Paramaribo , Suriname, that marks the first Indian migrants in Suriname.
Aug, 17, 2019

[pib] Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman


  • The President of India has awarded this year’s Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman to various dignitaries.

Details of the award

  • The distinction is conferred on persons once a year on the Independence Day (15 August) in recognition of their substantial contribution in the field of Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Pali, Prakrit, Classical Oriya, Classical Kannada, Classical Telugu and Classical Malayalam.
  • The award introduced in the year 2002, is given to selected young scholars in the age group of 30 to 45 years.
  • The Presidential award carries a certificate of honour, a memento and a onetime cash prize of Rs.1 lakh.

About Maharshi Badrayan Vyas

  • Badarayana was an Indian philosopher about whom almost no personal details are reliably known.
  • He wrote the foundational philosophical treatise Vedanta school of philosophy.
  • Badarayana is regarded as having written the basic text of the Vedanta system, the Vedāntasūtra a.k.a. Brahmasūtra.
  • He is thus considered the founder of the Vedānta system of philosophy.
  • The date of Badarayana and his Brahma Sutras is uncertain. Different scholars have dated the Brahma Sutras variously from 500 BCE to 450 BCE.
Aug, 02, 2019

Sanchi Stupa’s contribution to Indian architecture


Sanchi Stupa

  • The Sanchi Stupa is one of India’s primary Buddhist sites and contains some of the oldest stone structures in the country.
  • One of the first accounts of the Sanchi Stupa came from the British captain Edward Fell in 1819.
  • It was a further 93 years before the site was ‘rediscovered’ by John Marshall, and an additional seven before it was restored to its current
  • The magnificent carvings and inscriptions, are reflective of Indian architecture from the Mauryan era (3rd century BCE) to its later medieval-era decline (around 11th century CE).
  • The Sanchi complex is famous for the Mahastupa (Great Stupa), the Ashokan pillar (with its inscriptions) and its signature ornate torans (gateways).
  • The style of the torans and fencing is said to mimic the bamboo craft of the surrounding areas.
  • If one looks at the design of the fencing around the stupa, as well as the way the torans have been designed they’re reminiscent of bamboo craft and tied bamboo.


  • Stupas are semi-spherical domes with square bases that contain small receptacles for relics. There is generally a path for circumambulation around the outer structure of the stupa. They were initially built outside monasteries by pilgrims.
  • Sanchi is regarded as one of the first monastic stupas.
  • Nestled in the Vindhya Range, 46 km from Madhya Pradesh’s capital Bhopal, the historical city of Sanchi also boasts 50-odd other monuments, including temples and monasteries.
  • The Mahastupa was built by King Ashoka (304-232 BCE) in the 3rd century BCE to house the relics of Gautam Buddha (obtained by opening the eight primary stupas located at places relevant to Buddha’s life).
  • These were further scattered across 84,000 stupas to spread the influence of Buddhism.
  • Inscriptions on the southern toran vouch that the ivory workers of erstwhile Vidisha (now Besnagar) worked on these monuments, translating the same intricate talent onto stone.

Destruction and restoration

  • After the reign of the Mauryas, the Sanchi Stupa was vandalised by Pushyamitra Shungain the mid-2nd century BCE.
  • It was later encased in stone, rebuilt and expanded by future Shunga kings during 187-78 BCE.
  • The four signature torans – embellished with scenes from the Jataka Tales, Ashoka’s visit to the Bodhi tree, the war for Buddha’s relics, etc – were also later additions, constructed by the Satavahanas between the 1st century BCE and 1st century CE.

Connection with Buddhism

  • Interestingly, Buddha never visited Sanchi.
  • Neither did foreign travellers like Hiuen Tsang, who extensively documented the holy Buddhist circuit in India, but did not mention Sanchi in his writings.
  • Marshall in his The Monuments of Sanchi (1938), wrote that Sanchi was not as revered as other Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India.
  • Scholars like Alfred A Foucher say that the iconic depictions of Buddha (as the Bodhi tree, a rider-less horse, an empty throne, etc.) at Sanchi are products of Graeco-Buddhist architectural interaction.

Inspiration for future architects

  • The lion capital at Sanchi is similar to the one at Sarnath. The main difference between the two is that the monument at Sanchi depicts an abacus instead of a chakra.
  • However, the influence of the Sanchi Stupa on our national psyche goes beyond the lion capital; it inspired the design of several modern buildings, chief among which is the modern-day Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • Architect Edwin Lutyens was asked by Lord Charles Hardinge to incorporate symbols of India’s architectural past into the building, and modelled the colonnade to carry a Sanchi-style dome and balustrade railing.
  • In 1963, the dome of Kolkata’s Birla Planetarium was constructed to mirror the one at Sanchi.

With inputs from:


Jul, 08, 2019

Jaipur gets UNESCO World Heritage tag


  • The Walled City of Jaipur, known for its iconic architectural legacy and vibrant culture made its entry into the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
  • ICOMOS (The International Council on Monuments and Sites) had inspected the city in 2018, post its nomination.
  • With this, India now has 38 World Heritage Sites , that include 30 Cultural properties, 7 Natural properties and 1 mixed site.

About Jaipur

  • The historic walled city of Jaipur in Rajasthan was founded in 1727 AD under the patronage of Sawai Jai Singh II.
  • It serves as the capital city of the culturally-rich state of Rajasthan.

Why Jaipur?

  • The City of Jaipur is an exceptional urban example in indigenous city planning and construction in South Asia.
  • Unlike other medieval cities of the region, Jaipur was deliberately planned as a new city on the plains open for trade as opposed to hilly terrain and military cities of past.
  • In town planning, it shows an interchange of ancient Hindu, Mughal and contemporary Western ideas that resulted in the form of the city.
  • The site selected within the valley that lay to the south of Amber hills was comparatively flat and unmarred by any previous construction.
  • Besides an exemplary planning, its iconic monuments such as the Govind Dev temple, City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal excel in artistic and architectural craftsmanship of the period.
  • Jaipur is an expression of the astronomical skills, living traditions, unique urban form and exemplary foresighted city planning of an 18th century city from India.
  • Jaipur is an exemplary development in town planning and architecture that demonstrates amalgamation and important interchange of several ideas over the late medieval period.

 About the World Heritage Committee

  • The World Heritage Committee is composed of representatives of 21 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention who meet annually.
  • The Committee is in charge of implementing the Convention.
  • To date, 1,092 sites in 167 countries have been inscribed on the World Heritage List.


India’s first heritage city: Ahmedabad

  • Walled City of Ahmedabad, founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah in the 15th century, was declared India’s first World Heritage City in 2017
  • The 5.5 km walled city area with an approximate population of four lakh, living in century old wooden residences in around 600 pols or neighborhoods, is regarded as a living heritage.
  • The city on the eastern banks of Sabarmati river presents a rich architectural heritage from the sultanate period, notably the Bhadra citadel, the walls and gates of the Fort city and numerous mosques and tombs, as well as important Hindu and Jain temples of later periods.
  • There are 2600 heritage sites and over two dozen ASI protected monuments and sites in the walled city.
Jun, 28, 2019

Explained: The enduring legacy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh


  • Recently a statue of Ranjit Singh, who ruled Punjab for almost four decades (1801-39), was inaugurated in Lahore. June 27 is his death anniversary. His legacy endures for Punjabis around the world.

Ranjit Singh: Life and times

  • Ranjit Singh was born on November 13, 1780 in Gujranwala, now in Pakistan.
  • At that time, Punjab was ruled by powerful chieftains who had divided the territory into Misls.
  • Ranjit Singh overthrew the warring Misls and established a unified Sikh empire after he conquered Lahore in 1799.
  • He was given the title Lion of Punjab (Sher-e-Punjab) because he stemmed the tide of Afghan invaders in Lahore, which remained his capital until his death.
  • His general Hari Singh Nalwa built the Fort of Jamrud at the mouth of the Khyber Pass, the route the foreign rulers took to invade India.
  • At the time of his death, he was the only sovereign leader left in India, all others having come under the control of the East India Company in some way or the other.

Held a powerful and modernized Army

  • Ranjit Singh’s combined the strong points of the traditional Khalsa army with western advances in warfare to raise Asia’s most powerful indigenous army of that time.
  • His army was a match for the one raised by the East India Company.
  • He appointed French General Jean Franquis Allard to modernise his army.
  • He also employed a large number of European officers, especially French, to train his troops.
  • During the Battle of Chillianwala, the second of the Anglo-Sikh wars that followed Ranjit Singh’s death, the British suffered the maximum casualties of officers in their entire history in India.

His quest for empire

  • Ranjit Singh’s trans-regional empire spread over several states. His empire included the former Mughal provinces of Lahore and Multan besides part of Kabul and the entire Peshawar.
  • The boundaries of his state went up to Ladakh — Zorawar Singh, a general from Jammu, had conquered Ladakh in Ranjit Singh’s name — in the northeast.
  • His empire extended till Khyber pass in the northwest, and up to Panjnad in the south where the five rivers of Punjab fell into the Indus.
  • During his regime, Punjab was a land of six rivers, the sixth being the Indus.

His legacy

  • The maharaja was known for his just and secular rule; both Hindus and Muslims were given powerful positions in his Darbar.
  • The Sikhs take pride in him for he turned Harimandir Sahib at Amritsar into the Golden Temple by covering it with gold.
  • Right at the doorstep of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is a plaque that details how in 1830 AD, the maharaja did sewa over 10 years.
  • He is also credited with funding Hazoor Sahib gurudwara at the final resting place of Guru Gobind Singh in Nanded, Maharashtra.

Global recognition

  • In 2016, the town of St Tropez in France unveiled the maharaja’s bronze statue as a mark of respect.
  • Today, his throne is displayed prominently at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
  • Exhibitions on his rule are frequent in western countries home to the Punjabi diaspora.
  • Last year, London hosted an exhibition that focused on the history of the Sikh Empire and the international relations forged by the maharaja.
Jun, 19, 2019

Ajivika School of philosophy


  • Around the 6th century BC, at the time of the Buddha, there was an explosion all across India of different schools of thought and philosophy.
  • One of the most popular was the Ajivika sect. Though it had been around for ages, its most important leader Makkhali Goshala was a contemporary of both the Buddha and Mahavira.

Ajivika Philosophy

  • The Ajivikas’ central belief was that absolutely everything is predetermined by fate, or niyati, and hence human action has no consequence one way or the other.
  • According to them, each soul’s course was like a ball of thread that is unravelling.
  • It will go as it has to go, and similarly each cycle of life and death will have to be experienced, as will joy and sorrow.
  • Once the ball of thread is fully unwound, its journey will end, and so the soul will be liberated through nirvana.


  • Like Jains, Ajiviks wore no clothes, and lived as ascetic monks in organised groups.
  • They were known to practice extremely severe austerities, such as lying on nails, going through fire, exposing themselves to extreme weather, and even spending time in large earthen pots for penance!

Open for all

  • There was no caste discrimination and people from all walks of life joined them.

Patrons of Ajivika

  • Ajiviks were quite influential, and had many powerful followers. The sect reached its peak during the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka’s father’s (Bindusara’s) time.
  • Ashoka himself, best known for his spreading of Buddhism all over India and Southeast Asia, was an Ajivik for most of his life.
  • Interestingly, the oldest rock-cut caves in India, the Barabar Caves in Bihar dating from the Mauryan Empire, were made for Ajiviks and Jains to retreat and meditate!
  • Their reputation for such fearsome penance spread far and wide, and appeared in later Chinese and Japanese literature.

Rivalry with Jainism and Buddhism

  • Buddhist and Jain texts are very critical of the Ajiviks and Makkhali Goshala, which shows us that the Ajiviks must have been considered fairly important rivals of both.
  • For instance, Ajivik monks were known to eat very little food, but Buddhists accused them of eating secretly!
  • Jain texts describe a violent quarrel between Mahavira and Makkhali Goshal, which naturally, was won by their leader!
Jun, 15, 2019

Chaukhandi Stupa declared to be “of national importance”


  • An ancient Buddhist site in UP’s Sarnath known as Chaukhandi Stupa has been declared to be “of national importance” by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Chaukhandi Stupa

  • Chaukhandi Stupa was built to mark the place where Buddha met his first disciples Panchavargiya Bhikshus (Buddha’s five companions) who had previously deserted him at Rajgir, as he traveled from Bodhgaya to Sarnath.
  • The stupa got its name Chaukhandi’ because of its four armed plan.
  • It is a lofty mound of brick whose square edifice is surrounded by an octagonal tower.
  • The stupa is an ancient Buddhist site which evolved from burial mounds and served as a shrine for a relic of Buddha.


  • It appears to be in ruins and was originally constructed in 5th Century AD.
  • It also finds mention in account of Hiuen Tsang, celebrated Chinese traveler of 7th century AD.
  • The Chaukhandi Stupa is said to be originally a terraced temple during the Gupta period (4th to 6th century).
  • Govardhan, the son of Todarmal altered and modified the Chaukhandi Stupa to its present shape.
  • He built an octagonal tower to commemorate the visit of Humayun, the great Mughal ruler.


  • The current structure of the stupa is a high earthen mound covered with brickwork, to which stands atop a terraced rectangular plinth and it is capped by an octagonal Mughal tower.
  • Some images of Buddha, such as the image of Buddha in Dharmachakra Pravartana Mudra and other statues found during excavations at this Stupa are believed to be rare artifacts and classic examples of art from Gupta period.

About ASI

  • The ASI is an Indian government agency attached to the Ministry of Culture.
  • It is responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country.
  • It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who also became its first Director-General.
May, 28, 2019

Orchha on UNESCO world heritage sites tentative list


  • THE architectural heritage of Orchha town of Madhya Pradesh – has been included in the tentative list of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
  • It is declared following a proposal sent by the ASI to the UNESCO.

About Orchha

  • Orchha town in Niwari district of MP’s Bundelkhand region has a peculiar style of architecture used by the Bundela dynasty.
  • The town, located on the banks of river Betwa, around 80 km from MP’s Tikamgarh district and 15 km from Jhansi district of UP, was built by King Rudra Pratap Singh of Bundela dynasty in the 16th century.
  • The town is celebrated for its rich and ancient architecture of Chaturbhuj Temple, Orchha Fort Complex, and Raja Mahal among others.
  • It is famous for its two elevated minarets – Saavan and Bhadon; and four palaces – Jahangir Palace, Rai Praveen Mahal, Raja Mahal, and Sheesh Mahal.
  • It represents the concept of open bungalows, animal statues depicting the culture of Bundelkhand and stone work windows.
  • The site houses ‘Sri Ram Raja Mandir’, the only place in India where Lord Ram is worshipped as a King, not as a deity, with this dedicated temple in his name.

Mughal Confluence

  • The Orchha town is boasts of Bundela as well as Mughal architecture influence due to the closeness of both the dynasties.
  • Veer Singh Dev, King of Bundela dynasty, was a close friend of Mughal emperor Jahangir.
  • King Dev also fought wars as Mughal emperor Akbar’s aid.

What is tentative list?

  • As per rules, to be a part of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, the heritage or any historical site first has to be on the tentative list.
  • After it makes to the tentative list, another proposal is sent to UNESCO.
  • If the architectural splendour of Orchha makes it to the final list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, it would be the 38th site in India to form part of the treasured list.
  • Three historically famous sites in MP, including the rock shelters of Bhimbedka, Buddhist monuments at Sanchi, and the Khajuraho group of monuments are among the 37 Indian heritage sites on the UNESCO list.
May, 16, 2019

Person in news: Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar



  • Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was the 19th century intellectual giant whose bust was vandalized by some political goons in Kolkata.
  • However he was perhaps the first Indian reformer to put forward the issues of women.
  • Vidyasagar’s Bengali primer, Borno Porichoy, remains, more than 125 years after his death in 1891, the introduction to the alphabet for nearly all Bengali children.
  • Michael Madhusudan Dutt, the 19th century pioneer of Bengali drama, described Vidyasagar as having “the genius and wisdom of an ancient sage, the energy of an Englishman and the heart of a Bengali mother”.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

  • One of Bengal’s towering cultural icons, and among the greatest personalities of the Bengal Renaissance, Vidyasagar was a polymath who reconstructed the modern Bengali alphabet and initiated pathbreaking reform in traditional upper caste Hindu society.
  • He studied Sanskrit grammar, literature, Vedanta philosophy, logic, astronomy, and Hindu law for more than 12 years at Sanskrit College in Calcutta, and received the title of Vidyasagar — Ocean of Learning — at the age of just 21.
  • Privately, he studied English literature and philosophy and was appointed principal of Sanskrit College on January 22, 1851. He was all of 31 years old then.

Reforms by Ishwar Chandra

I. Widow Remarriage

  • The focus of his social reform was women — and he spent his life’s energies trying to ensure an end to the practice of child marriage and initiate widow remarriage.
  • He followed in the great reformist tradition of Raja Ram Mohun Roy (1772-1833), and argued, on the basis of scriptures and old commentaries, in favour of the remarriage of widows in the same way as Roy did for the abolition of Sati.
  • His earliest effort at social reform, however, came in the second half of 1850 when, in a paper on the evils of child marriage.
  • He launched a powerful attack on the practice of marrying off girls aged 10 or even younger, pointing to social, ethical, and hygiene issues, and rejecting the validity of the Dharma Shastras that advocated it.
  • He showed that there was no prohibition on widows remarrying in the entire body of ‘Smriti’ literature (the Sutras and the Shastras).

II. Campaign against polygamy

  • Alongside the campaign for widow remarriage, he campaigned against polygamy.
  • In 1857, a petition for the prohibition of polygamy among Kulin Brahmins was presented to the government with 25,000 signatures, led by the Maharaja of Burdwan.
  • The mutiny of the sepoys resulted in the postponement of action on this petition, but in 1866, Vidyasagar inspired another petition, this time with 21,000 signatures.
  • In the 1870s, the great rationalist, wrote two brilliant critiques of polygamy, arguing to the government that since polygamy was not sanctioned by the sacred texts, there could be no objection to suppressing it by legislation.

Impact of his reformist zeal

  • Vidyasagar’s first pamphlets in Bengali on widow remarriage created a tremendous stir in Hindu society.
  • Two thousand copies were sold out in a week, and a reprint of another 3,000 copies also did not last.
  • These were unprecedented sales figures for a book at that time.
  • On October 14, 1855, Vidyasagar presented a petition to the Government of India praying for early passing a law to remove all obstacles to the marriage of Hindu widows and to declare the issue of all such marriages to be legitimate.

Fruitful outcomes

  • On July 16, 1856, The Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, known as Act XV, was passed.
  • Inspired by Vidyasagar, a number of literary men produced dramas advocating the remarriage of widows, both in Bengal and elsewhere.
  • In 1864, Jyotiba Phule succeeded in persuading a Saraswat Brahmin widow to remarry.
  • In 1866 Vishnu Shastri Pandit translated Vidyasagar’s book on widow remarriage into Marathi.
May, 07, 2019

Thailand’s cultural roots with India



  • Recently Thailand observed an elaborate coronation ceremony for its new king.
  • Last time such a ceremony took place in the country was back in May 1950 for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as Rama IX.
  • Adulyadej passed away in 2016 at the age of 88, after having ruled for seven decades.

Indian roots of Coronation

  • The coronation ceremony is an interesting mix of Buddhist and Brahminical rituals, symbolically declaring the king as Devaraja (God-king) and upholder of Buddhism in Thailand.
  • The Indian roots of the Thai king’s coronation ceremony are reflexive of the rich, long relationship that South East Asian countries have shared with Hindu and Buddhist communities in India.
  • The Brahmanical character of the Thai coronation ceremony needs to be located in the context of such cultural exchange.
  • The Siamese preserve the ancient term for coronation as ‘Rajabhisheka’ which in ancient India referred to the coronation of ordinary kings.
  • For the Siamese, Rajabhisheka is rather a Rajasuya, a ceremony for the consecration of an emperor, and it is extremely interesting to find that some of its features can be traced back to the Vedic Rajasuya described in the Satapatha Brahmana.

Indianisation in SE Asia

  • French scholar George Coedes is known to be the first person to have carried out an in-depth study of the process of ‘Indianisation’ in South East Asia, whereby he coined the term ‘Farther India’.
  • Trade was perhaps the foremost cause of contact between the two regions.
  • As Coedus notes, individual traders had perhaps set up small kingdoms in South East Asian states, thereby carrying with them Buddhist and Hindu cultural motifs and value systems.

Observation of Brahminical features

  • The existence of Brahmanical features in the coronation ceremony can be traced back to the Sukhothai Kingdom of the thirteenth century.
  • Since then, despite the growth of Buddhism in the country, Brahmins had an extremely important role to play in the royal court.
  • Although Buddhism was the religion of the people, and was protected by the kings, Hinduism was still considered as essential to the monarchy, and received a great share of royal favour.
  • During the period of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, Brahmins were appointed in the court from Cambodia and from the Indian peninsula.
  • The Brahmanical nature of the court ceremonies was destroyed only when the Ayutthaya kingdom was sacked in the 18th century by the Burmese troops of the Konbaung Dynasty.
  • King Rama I, who founded the Rattanakosin Kingdom in the late 18th century, brought back the Brahmanical tradition of the coronation ceremony which continues to be observed till date.
May, 04, 2019

M.N. Roy and his contribution for anti-colonial struggle in India



  • The October Revolution in Russia (1917) ignited the spark of left wing ideology in India and other parts of the world.
  • By the second decade of the 20th century, the political thinking in India swung between Gandhian ideology and radical Communism.
  • This was so much that Bengali militant nationalist Manabendra Nath Roy became one of the founders of global Communism.

M. N. Roy

  • Having begun his political career at an early age, Roy first emerged as a powerful radical voice against the 1905 Partition of Bengal.
  • By 1915, as the WW I raged in Europe, he and several others were convinced that the only way of fighting the British in India was with German help.
  • Roy, who left India during this period to raise funds, soon found himself intimately involved in the growing Communist struggle across the world.

M. N. Roy in Mexico

  • When Roy set out from India in 1915, Mexico was nowhere on his itinerary. His destination was the Indonesian island of Java.
  • This trip turned out to be the prelude to many others, which took him to China, Japan as well as both coasts of the United States by late 1916.
  • In April 1917, when the US declared war on Germany, Indians implicated in the Indo-German conspiracy were under the spotlight along with their German backers.
  • Roy, like many other Indian revolutionaries, escaped America and moved south to Mexico.
  • In Mexico, he continued to organise revolutionary activities for India with the help of German diplomats.
  • As the success of the conspiratorial alliance with Germany appeared ever less likely, Roy began socializing with a group of North American Leftists.

Spread of Communism in America 

  • Under the influence of the Bolshevik revolution that had broken out in 1917, Roy along with the American Leftists and Mexican unionists and anarchists founded the Mexican Communist Party (PCM) in November 1917.
  • The PCM was one of the first legitimate Communist parties to be established outside Russia and played an important role in organising the workers’ movement in Mexico.
  • With the founding of the PCM, Roy’s name came to be associated with the expansion of Communism globally.
  • He and his party were invited by head of the Soviet Union Vladimir Lenin to be part of the Communist International’s Congress.
  • Roy helped Lenin develop the Communist International’s — also known as Third International — policies towards the colonies.

Contribution in anti-colonial struggle in India

  • Roy’s conversion from an Indian nationalist financed by the Germans to an international revolutionary thus occured in Mexico.
  • However, he continued to be focused on the anti-colonial struggle in India.
  • In 1922, he prepared a detailed programme for the consideration of Indian National Congress. In this he proposed nationalization of railways, mines, water ways.
  • He also suggested that the aim of the Congress party should be complete national independence from British domination.
  • He established CPI in Tashkent in 1925.
May, 03, 2019

750th birth anniversary of Vedanta Desikan


  • Vice-President has unveiled commemorative postage stamps on the 750th birth anniversary of ‘Vedanta Desikan’ a religious philosopher.

Vedanta Desikan (1268–1369)

  • Sri Vedanta Desikan was a Sri Vaishnava philosopher and one of the most brilliant stalwarts of Vaishnavism in the post-Ramanuja period.
  • He was a poet, devotee, philosopher and master-teacher (desikan).
  • He was the disciple of Kidambi Appullar, also known as Aathreya Ramanujachariar, who was of a master-disciple lineage that began with Ramanuja.
  • He composed many different works in languages such as Tamil, Sanskrit, Prakrit and Manipravala (a mixture of Sanskrit and Tamil).

His work

  • He was know by various titles such as ‘Kavitarkika-kesari’ and ‘Kavitarkika-simham’, the lion amongst poets; and ‘Ramanuja-daya-patram’, the recipient of Ramanuja’s causeless mercy, given in a laudatory verse composed by the famous Brahma Tantra Svatantra Swami.
  • He is known as Sarva-tantra-svatantra or a master of science, philosophy, arts and crafts.
Apr, 24, 2019

Soon, heritage by-laws for Purana Qila, Khair-ul-Manazil


  • The heritage by-laws, drafted in accordance with the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010, for Purana Qila and the Khair-ul-Manazil mosque, will be out in the public domain

NMA drafting rules

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) can only carry out repairs in the 100 metre-span from a protected area, which is called the prohibited area.
  • The area starting from 100 metres from such a monument till 300 metres away from it is the “regulated area”, as per the Act.
  • For the regulated areas, the NMA is drafting heritage by-laws for each monument or group of monuments that will determine the nature of new construction activity.
  • The proposed by-laws will lay down restrictions on the height of new constructions, among other features.


  • The by-laws would be aimed at ensuring new constructions are “in harmony” with the protected monuments.
  • After these two monuments in Delhi, the NMA will be working towards finalising by-laws for several monuments in MP and UP, for which drafts have been received from regional officials.


National Monuments Authority (NMA)

  • NMA under the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India has been setup as per provisions of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains AMASR (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 which was enacted in March, 2010.
  • Several functions have been assigned to the NMA for the protection and preservation of monuments and sites through management of the prohibited and regulated area around the centrally protected monuments.
  • One amongst these responsibilities of NMA is also to consider grant of permissions to applicants for construction related activity in the prohibited and regulated area.
  • The NMA and the Competent Authorities (CA) were setup and now all applications for construction related work in the prohibited and regulated area are to be submitted to the CA and then to NMA for consideration of the application.

Functions of NMA

  • Statutory provision for the ‘prohibited’ and regulated areas.
  • Complete ban on construction (including public projects) in the prohibited area.
  • Providing statutory procedures for applications seeking permission for construction/repair/renovation.
  • The authority shall make necessary scrutiny of the Heritage bye laws and accord approval after inviting objections/suggestions from the public
  • Grading and classification of monuments.
Apr, 18, 2019

World Heritage Day 2019: Significance and this year’s theme


World Heritage Day

  • The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in 1982 had decided to celebrate April 18 as as the International Day for Monuments and Sites or World Heritage Day.
  • Approved by UNESCO in 1983 during its 22nd General Conference, the day is dedicated to recognising sites of historical importance, raising awareness regarding them, and stressing on the need to restore and preserve them.
  • The day promotes cultural importance, while also highlighting the many impediments in doing so.
  • Every year, a theme is proposed for the day which guides the celebrations and the many activities that ICOMOS National and International Scientific Committees and by other bodies organise.
  • The theme for this year’s celebrations is ‘Rural Landscapes’, which is related to the theme of the 2019 ICOMOS Scientific Symposium on Rural heritage that will take place in Marrakesh, Morocco in October.

Rural Landscapes

  • ICOMOS defines rural landscape as, “Principles concerning rural landscapes as heritage”, adopted by the ICOMOS General Assembly in 2017.
  • Rural landscapes are defined as “terrestrial and aquatic areas co-produced by human-nature interaction used for the production of food and other renewable natural resources, via agriculture, animal husbandry and pastoralism, fishing and aquaculture, forestry, wild food gathering, hunting, and extraction of other resources, such as salt. Rural landscapes are multifunctional resources.
  • At the same time, all rural areas have cultural meanings attributed to them by people and communities: all rural areas are landscapes.
  • Rural landscape has been a site of both tangible and intangible heritage and has also helped in maintaining a balance between the environment and human activities.
Apr, 16, 2019

Explained: History behind Notre Dame- Soul of the French nation


  • Paris was struck in its very heart as flames devastated the roof of Notre-Dame, the medieval cathedral made famous by Victor Hugo.

Importance of Notre-Dam

  • The iconic cathedral has been deeply enmeshed in Paris’s history since construction began at the end of the 12th century; historians generally ascribe the date 1163 and lasted more than two centuries to 1345.
  • For French Catholics it has particular resonance, as the resting place of the crown of thorns believed to have been placed on Jesus’ head before his crucifixion.
  • For centuries France’s kings and queens were married and buried there.
  • Its massive tenor bell announced the liberation of the city from Nazi control on August 24, 1944, ending the dark years under German rule in World War II.
  • Napoleon was crowned emperor in Notre-Dame in 1804, and the joyous thanksgiving ceremony after the Liberation of Paris in 1944 took place there, led by Charles de Gaulle.
Apr, 12, 2019

[op-ed snap] Jallianwala Bagh massacre:


  • British Prime Minister Theresa May finally came out with: “We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused.”Britain’s refusal to squarely apologise for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre is expected but disappointing.

Problems With the nature of the statement

  • An aspect of the statement that stands out is its passiveness — “what happened”, “the suffering caused”. There is no hint of agency here; this could well be the statement of any observer and not of inheritors of the empire that committed the atrocity.
  • The blandness too is disturbing: one would have expected some sympathy for the victims or their descendants and some reference to the brutality of the massacre.

The history of incidence

  • On April 13, 1919, Baisakhi day, following unrest in Amritsar after protests against the Rowlatt Act, Brigadier General (temporary rank) Reginald Dyer took a strike force of 50 rifles and 40 khukri-wielding Gurkhas into an enclosed ground, Jallianwala Bagh, where a peaceful public meeting of 15,000-20,000 was being held.
  • The firing of 1,650 rounds was deliberate and targeted, using powerful rifles at virtually pointblank range.
  • Eyewitness accounts and information collected by Sewa Samiti, a charity organisation point to much higher numbers. Non-Indian writers place the number killed at anything between 500 to 600, with three times that number wounded.
  • Post incidence events – More was to follow after the proclamation, two days after the massacre, of Martial Law in Punjab: the infamous crawling order, the salaam order, public floggings, arbitrary arrests, torture and bombing of civilians by airplanes — all under a veil of strictly enforced censorship.

Evasion of responsibility

  • After calls for an investigation, including by liberals in Britain, a Disorders Inquiry Committee, soon to be known by the name of its Chairman, Lord Hunter, was set up.
  • In his testimony, Dyer asserted that his intention had been to punish the crowd, to make a “wide impression” and to strike terror not only in Amritsar but throughout Punjab.
  • The committee split along racial lines and submitted a majority and minority report.
  • Majority Report – The majority report of the Hunter Committee, using tactically selective criticism, established Dyer’s culpability but let off the Lieutenant Governor, Michael O’Dwyer.
  • Minority report – The minority report written by the three Indian members was more scathing in its criticism. By then Dyer had become a liability and he was asked to resign his command, after which he left for England.
  • The conservative Lords however took a different tack and rebuked the government for being unjust to the officer.
  • Similar sentiments in Dyer’s favour came from the right-wing press — the Morning Post started a fund for him which collected £26,000 — as well as from conservative sections of the public who believed he had saved India for the empire.

Similar Incidents

  • Dyer was certainly rogue, but he was not alone. He was one of a line of several such — John Nicholson, Frederick Cooper, J.L. Cowan — who resorted to severe disproportionate violence in 1857 and after the 1872 Kuka rebellion; he was also part of the despotic administration led by O’Dwyer (later assassinated by Udham Singh in 1940) which emboldened and then exonerated him.

Earlier Reactions on Massacre

  • The speech that carried the day in the House of Commons in 1920 was that of Winston Churchill, no fan of Gandhi and his satyagraha. He called Dyer’s deed “an extraordinary event, a monstrous event, an event which stands in sinister isolation”; privately he wrote that the “offence amounted to murder, or alternatively manslaughter”.
  • In 2013, then Prime Minister David Cameron quoted the same Churchill epithet of “monstrous”, adding that this was a “deeply shameful event in British history” and “we must never forget what happened here.”
  • The Queen had earlier termed it as a “distressing example” of past history. Again, general homilies with hands nicely off and no admission of a larger culpability of racialised colonial violence that underpinned imperialism.


  • Deep regret is all we may get instead of the unequivocal apology that is mandated.
  • The expectation could be that time will add more distance to the massacre, making these calls for apology increasingly an academic exercise.
  • We will no doubt also be advised to forgive and move on.
  • The fact remains that there are many ways to heal a festering wound between nations, as Canada’s apology for the Komagata Maru shows; clever drafting is not one of them



Apr, 08, 2019

Explained: Jallianwala Bagh Massacre


  • The upcoming 13th of April will mark centenary of the infamous Jallianwala Bagh Massacre that shook entire nation.
  • It has often been said that Britain lost its empire the day when, a hundred years ago when this massacre took place.

Protesting the contentious Rowlatt Act

  • The act officially known as the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act, 1919 was passed in 1919 by the Imperial Legislative Council.
  • It had authorised the British government to arrest anybody suspected of terrorist activities.
  • It also authorised the government to detain such people arrested for up to 2 years without trial.
  • It empowered the police to search a place without a warrant. It also placed severe restrictions on the freedom of the press.
  • The primary intention colonial govt. was to repress the growing nationalist movement in the country.
  • The British were also afraid of a Ghadarite revolution in Punjab and the rest of the country.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

  • The massacre took place on 13 April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Col. Reginald Dyer fired rifles into a crowd of Indians.
  • The civilians had assembled for a peaceful protest to condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew.
  • Dyer without warning ordered his troops to fire at the unarmed crowd which included children as well.
  • The indiscriminate firing went on for about 10 minutes which resulted in the deaths of at least 1000 people and injured more than 1500 people.


  • In protest against the massacre Rabindranath Tagore gave up his knighthood.
  • Gandhiji relinquished his title ‘Kaiser-e-hind’ bestowed on him by the British for his services during the Boer War in South Africa.
  • Michael O’Dwyer, the then Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, who had approved the actions of Dyer, was assassinated by Udham Singh in London in 1940 as revenge against the massacre.
  • The heroic treatment to Dyer’s heinous act again set a benchmark of colonial arrogance.

Hunter Commission

  • In October 1919 the Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, ordered the formation of a committee of inquiry into the events in Punjab.
  • Referred to as the Disorders Inquiry Committee, it was later more widely known as the Hunter Commission (Not to be consfused with Hunter Education Commission).
  • Still there are long-standing demands in India that Britain should apologize for the massacre.
Apr, 08, 2019

[pib] Battle of Kangla Tongbi


  • The Battle of Kangla Tongbi recently completed its platinum jubilee.

Battle of Kangla Tongbi

  • It is considered one of the fiercest battles of World War II, was fought by Ordnance personnel of 221 Advance Ordnance Depot (AOD) on the night of 6/7 April 1944.
  • Japanese forces had planned a three pronged offensive to capture Imphal and the surrounding areas.
  • At Kangla Tongbi, a small but determined detachment of 221 AOD put up stiff resistance against the advancing Japanese forces.
  • The position of 221 AOD was not at all sound from a tactical point of view and was exposed to the enemy from all sides and had to rely on its own combatant manpower for its defence.
  • However their combatant role shook the enemy and forced the Japanese to withdraw leaving many dead.

Significance of the battle

  • This battle is one of those fought during the Battle of Imphal that shook imperialist motives of Japan and made them reconsider.
  • Japanese armies attempted to destroy the Allied forces at Imphal and invade India, but were driven back into Burma with heavy losses.
  • The defeat was the largest defeat to that date in Japanese history with many of the Japanese deaths resulting from starvation, disease and exhaustion suffered during their retreat.
Apr, 01, 2019

Ramappa temple for world heritage site


Mains Paper 1: Arts and Culture| Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Ramappa Temple, UNESCO

Mains level: India’s rich cultural treasure and ways to preserve it


Ramappa Temple to get the tag

  • Telangana may get its first UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it may be the Ramappa Temple at Palampet near Warangal than any of the Qutb Shahi era sites in Hyderabad.
  • The Qutb Shahi monuments of Hyderabad, Golconda Fort, Qutb Shahi Tombs and Charminar have been on the tentative list of World Heritage Sites from September 2010.
  • The Ramappa Temple’s application filed as ‘The Glorious Kakatiya Temples and Gateways’ has been fast-tracked from April 2014.
  • Earlier, the Ramappa Temple was part of a ‘serial nomination’ along with the Thousand Pillar Temple, Swayambhu Temple and Keerti Thoranas of Warangal Fort.

About the temple

  • The Ramappa Temple is a jewel of the Kakatiya era and it stands out.
  • An inscription in the temple dates it to the year 1213 AD and says it was built by a General Recherla Rudra, during the period of the Kakatiya ruler Ganapati Deva.
  • The Siva temple is perhaps the only one in the country that is known by the name of the architect rather than the king who commissioned it or its presiding deity.
  • The stunning dance sculptures and friezes of the temple appear as if they have been machined into shape on black dolomite, rather than being chiseled.
  • The temple is built on a valley and it rests on bricks that are scientifically shown to float in water.

Agencies involved

  • The property is evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) then provides advice on conservation of the site, and training.
  • After all these steps, the World Heritage Committee evaluates the site and decides to inscribe it or send back the nomination.
  • It remains to be seen whether the Ramappa temple will win the prized inscription at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee meeting to be held in Azerbaijan this year.



  1. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris.
  2. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms etc.
  3. UNESCO implements its activities through the five programme areas: education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communication and information.
  4. It designates projects and places of cultural and scientific significance, such as:
  • Global Geoparks Network
  • Biosphere reserves (Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB), since 1971)
  • City of Literature
  • Endangered languages and linguistic diversity projects
  • Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
  • Memory of the World International Register, since 1997
  • Water resources management (International Hydrological Programme (IHP), since 1965)
  • World Heritage sites
  • World Digital Library

UNESCO World Heritage Committee

  • The World Heritage Committee selects the sites to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger.
  • It monitors the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties.
  • It is composed of 21 states parties that are elected by the General Assembly of States Parties for a four-year term.
  • India is NOT a member of this Committee.
Mar, 27, 2019

Explained: How researchers used science to show Bengal famine was man-made


Mains Paper 1: Indian History| All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Bengal Famine

Mains level: Bengal Famine: causes and consequences


  • The Bengal famine of 1943-44 was not caused by an agricultural drought but was man-made.
  • Researchers have proved this using old weather data and modern simulation methods to reach a conclusion long acknowledged by historians.

Soil moisture & famine

  • The research reconstructed agricultural droughts and established a link between famines and agricultural droughts in India in the half-century between 1870-2016.
  • Precipitation data from 1901 onwards was available from the IMD.
  • They estimated a measure called soil moisture percentile, or SMP. When the SMP was less than 20, it was categorised as drought.

British Policy Failure

  • The Bengal famine was completely due to the failure of policy during the British era.
  • The simulations showed that a majority of famines were caused by large-scale and severe soil moisture droughts that hampered food production.
  • Out of six major famines during the period (1873-74, 1876, 1877, 1896-97, 1899, 1943), the researchers concluded that the first five were linked to soil moisture.
  • All but two of the famines were found consistent with the drought periods identified by the analysis.
  • The exceptions were 1873-1874 and 1943-1944.

Immediate cause of such Famines

  • During World War II, market supplies and transport systems were disrupted. This is attributed to British policies, and prioritization of distribution of supplies to the military and other select groups.
  • Occupation of Burma by Japan in 1942 resulted in restriction on rice imports from Burma.
  • Restriction on inter-state trade of rice and other food grains at the time further aggravated the issue.
  • Hoarding of rice stocks by traders and farmers in anticipation of speculative rise in rice prices in future as rice shortage was becoming evident.
  • In early 1943, military and political events adversely affected Bengal’s economy, which was exacerbated by refugees from Burma.
  • Additionally, wartime grain import restrictions imposed by the British government played a major role in the famine.
Mar, 27, 2019

Sharda Peeth Corridor


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sharda Peeth Corridor (Location, importance)

Mains level: India-Pakistan Cultural Relations


  • The Pakistan government has approved a proposal to establish a corridor that will allow Hindu pilgrims from India to visit Sharda Peeth an ancient Hindu temple and cultural site in POK.
  • India had already sent a proposal to Pakistan to open the temple corridor.
  • The corridor when opened will be the second religious tract after Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan-controlled territory that will connect the two neighbouring nations.

Sharda Peeth Corridor

  • Established in 237 BC during the reign of Ashoka, the 5,000-year-old Sharada Peeth is an abandoned temple and ancient centre of learning dedicated to the Hindu goddess of learning.
  • Between the 6th and 12th centuries CE, Sharada Peeth was one of the foremost temple universities of the Indian subcontinent.
  • After Partition in 1947, the temple went under the control of Pakistan.
  •  It is about 150km from Muzaffarabad, the capital of PoK, and about 130km from Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • It is also one of the three famous holy sites for Kashmiri Pandits, the other two being the Martand Sun Temple in Anantnag and the Amarnath temple.
  • Kashmiri Pandit organisations have been demanding opening of the Sharda Peeth corridor for many years now.

Importance of the peeth

  • The peeth is also considered a historical seat of learning, and was once at par with the ancient seats of learning at Nalanda and Takshila.
  • Kashmiri Pandits consider Sharada as their “kuldevi” or principal deity.
  • The Sharada Peeth is believed to be one of the foremost temple universities of the subcontinent between the 6th and 12th centuries CE.
  • There are competing theories about when it was built, but it has been suggested that the temple is over 5,000-year-old.
Mar, 13, 2019

Role of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the Dandi march of 1930


Mains Paper 1: Freedom Struggle | its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Dandi March

Mains level: Contribution of Sardar Patel


  • On occasion of the 89th anniversary of the iconic Dandi March, PM Modi published a blog titled ‘When a handful of salt shook an empire’ paying tributes to the contributions made by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to the movement.

Dandi March

  • On March 12, 1930, Gandhi along with 80 satyagrahis started out from Sabarmati Ashram and marched over 390 km to reach the coastal village of Dandi.
  • The march, a protest against the coercive salt tax imposed by the British, was the most significant organised challenge to British authority after the Non-Cooperation Movement of the early 1920s.
  • The march sparked a series of acts of civil disobedience across India against the salt laws.
  • Over 60,000 people were arrested across the country. Soon after, the Congress planned a Satyagraha at the Dharasana Salt Works, 25 miles south of Dandi.
  • However, the plan was shelved after Gandhi was arrested days before the beginning of the movement.

Role of Sardar Patel

  • Sardar Patel indeed play a very significant role in mobilizing people for the Dandi march.
  • However, when Gandhi proposed the idea of a salt march, the working committee of the Congress was not convinced of the impact it would have.
  • However, once the decision was taken, Patel threw his entire weight behind it and gave the movement its initial momentum.
  • It is believed Patel chose Dandi, and even planned the route Gandhi would take.
  • As Patel went about mobilizing people for the march, the district administration of Surat realized it was necessary to get him out of the way.
  • Consequently, on March 7, five days before the march was scheduled, Patel was arrested.
Mar, 08, 2019

[pib] Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle (1857-1947)


Mains Paper 1: History | Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Dictionary of Martyrs Project

Mains level: Contribution of various freedom struggle


  • Hon’ble PM has released the Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle, at an event.

 “Dictionary of Martyrs” Project

  • The project for compilation of “Dictionary of Martyrs” of India’s Freedom Struggle was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, to the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) to commemorate the 150th anniversary of uprising of 1857.
  • In this dictionary a martyr has been defined as a person who died or who was killed in action or in detention, or was awarded capital punishment while participating in the national movement for emancipation of India.
  • It includes ex-INA or ex-military personnel who died fighting the British.
  • Information of about 13,500 martyrs has been recorded in these volumes.

Who are included?

  • It includes the martyrs of 1857 Uprising, Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (1919), Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-22), Civil Disobedience Movement (1930-34), Quit India Movement (1942-44), Revolutionary Movements (1915-34), Kissan Movements, Tribal Movements, Agitation for Responsible Government in the Princely States (Prajamandal), Indian National Army (INA, 1943-45), Royal Indian Navy Upsurge (RIN, 1946), etc.

Five Volumes

  • Volume 1: In this volume, more than 4400 martyrs of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have been listed.
  • Volume 2: In this volume more than 3500 martyrs of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir have been listed.
  • Volume 3: The number of martyrs covered in this volume is more than 1400. This volume covers the martyrs of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Sind.
  • Volume 4: The numbers of martyrs covered in this volume is more than 3300. This volume covers the martyrs of Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura.
  • Volume 5: The number of martyrs covered in this volume is more than 1450. This volume covers the martyrs of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Feb, 21, 2019

[pib] Guru Ravidas


Mains Paper 1: Indian History| All Syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Guru Ravidas and associated facts

Mains level: Bhakti Movement in medieval India


Guru Ravidas Jayanti

  • Guru Ravidas Jayanti is celebrated on Magh Purnima, which is the full moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Magha.
  • People celebrate this day by reading the holy book Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji.
  • Some devotees also take a holy bath in Ganga to celebrate this anniversary.

Who was Guru Ravidas?

  1. While the exact year of his birth is not known, it is believed that the mystic saint was born in 1377 C.E.
  2. Although there have been no concrete details, the saint was said to have been born in the village of Seer Goverdhanpur which is located near Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi.
  3. His birthplace has now been named Shri Guru Ravidas Janam Asthan and has become a major place of pilgrimage for the followers of Guru Ravidas.
  4. He belonged to a (so called) untouchable caste and suffered a lot of atrocities as a result.
  5. However the saint chose to focus on spiritual pursuits and also penned several devotional songs which made a huge impact in the Bhakti movement during the 14th to 16th century CE.

Teachings of Guru Ravidas

  1. Guru Ravidas spoke against the caste divisions and spoke of removing them to promote unity.
  2. The Adi Granth of Sikhs, in addition to the Panchvani are the two of the oldest documented sources of the literary works of Guru Ravidas.
  3. His teachings resonated with the people, leading to a religion being born called the Ravidassia religion, or Ravidassia Dharam based on his teachings.
  4. He taught about the omnipresence of God and said that a human soul is a particle of God and hence Ravidas rejected the idea that people considered lower caste cannot meet God.
  5. He said in his teachings that the only way to meet God was to free the mind from the duality.

With inputs from:

Financial Express

Feb, 04, 2019

Stupa-hopping in Sarnath


Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Sarnath Stupa and associated stories

Mains level:  Significance of Buddhism


Dhamek Stupa, Sarnath

  1. Dhamek Stupa is a massive stupa located at Sarnath, 13 km away from Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India.
  2. It was built in 500 CE to replace an earlier structure commissioned by Ashoka in 249 BCE, along with several other monuments, to commemorate the Buddha’s activities in this location.
  3. While visiting Sarnath in 640 CE, Xuanzang recorded that the colony had over 1,500 priests and the main stupa was nearly 300 feet (91 m) high.
  4. In its current shape, the stupa is a solid cylinder of bricks and stone reaching a height of 43.6 meters and having a diameter of 28 meters.
  5. The basement seems to have survived from Ashoka’s structure: the stone facing is chiseled and displays delicate floral carvings of Gupta origin.
  6. The wall is covered with exquisitely carved figures of humans and birds, as well as inscriptions in the Brāhmī script.

Importance of Sarnath

  1. The Dhamek Stupa is said to mark the spot Rishipattana, where Buddha gave the first sermon to his first five Brahmin disciples after attaining enlightenment, “revealing his Eightfold Path leading to nirvana”.
  2. In several of the ancient sources the site of the first sermon is mentioned to have been at a ″Mriga-dayaa-vanam″ or a sanctuary for animals.

Stories associated with Sarnath

  1. From Bodh Gaya, Buddha went to the Deer Park (Mrigadava) in Sarnath, where the five monks who had been with him during his ascetic phase were staying.
  2. It was there that he gave his first sermon, an event known as the Dharma Chakra Pravarttana, or turning of the wheel of law.
  3. In ancient times, this place was known by many names — Rishipatana, Mrigadava and Mrigadaya.
  4. The word Sarnath comes from a corruption of the name Saranganatha (lord of deer).

The first Sermon

  1. In his first sermon to the five companions, Buddha spoke of the Four Noble Truths and the eightfold path that frees people from suffering.
  2. He said that there are two ways of life: one is to indulge in all the pleasures of the world and the other is to deny oneself these pleasures.
  3. The middle path is the way to achieve nirvana, he said.

Foundation of Sangha

  1. It is in Sarnath that Buddha laid the foundation of his sangha, or organisation of monks.
  2. He had 60 disciples whom he sent to different parts of the country to spread his teachings.
  3. He also established an order of female monks, which was joined by his wife.

Excavation in Colonial Period

  1. The beautiful stupas and monasteries in Sarnath were excavated under Sir Alexander Cunningham.
  2. He excavated the Dhamekh, Dharmarajika, and Chaukhandi stupas along with a monastery and temple between 1834 and 36.
  3. Many excavations followed these, the most famous among them being the 1904-05 excavation by Friedrich Oscar Oertel of the Ashoka Pillar, including the Lion Capital.

National Emblem of India

  1. On top of the Ashokan pillar in Sarnath was the the Lion Capital and the Dharmachakra, but the Lion Capital is now housed in Sarnath museum, while the pillar remains where it was originally.
  2. The Lion Capital was adopted as the national emblem of India in 1950.

Survived several invasions

  1. After Ashoka, the other rulers who added to Sarnath’s glory were the Kushans, the Guptas and Harshavardhana.
  2. Under the Guptas, the Dharmekh stupa was encased with stone-carved floral designs.
  3. Sarnath suffered from the Huna invasions, but Harshavardhana later restored some of the earlier buildings.
  4. Sarnath also suffered when it was attacked by Mahmud of Ghazni. Mahipala, the Pala king, restored the monuments.

Cultural Significance

  1. Architect James Fergusson remarks that the sculptured band on the central part of the Dhamek stupa, which has geometric patterns of great intricacy similar to the mosques in Delhi and Ajmer.
  2. The calligraphy on the screen of Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, built by Qutbuddin Aibak in the Qutub complex in Delhi, does bear resemblance to the stupa.
Feb, 02, 2019

International conference on 8th century sage held to mark 50 years of India-Bhutan ties


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Guru Padmasambhava, Thangka Paintings

Mains level: India-Bhutan cultural relations


About the Conference

  • Celebrating 50-years of formalization of diplomatic ties between India and Bhutan, a two-day international conference on 8th century Himalayan sage Guru Padmasambhava was held in New Delhi.
  • The conference, organised by the Centre for Escalation of Peace (CEP) and titled ‘Life and Legacy of Guru Padmasambhava’, was held.

Guru Padmasambhava

  1. Guru Padmasambhava was born in India and has visited Bhutan two times.
  2. He spent a large amount of his time in Nalanda there and then he travelled across the Himalayas.
  3. He is known as the second Buddha because he brought Buddhism in Bhutan and other Himalayan countries.
  4. There is an image or painting of the guru in every Bhutanese home or temple.
  5. Thangka paintings, sculptures and photographs portrayed the life and teachings of the Guru.

(Note: Thangka is a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton, silk usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala)

Jan, 19, 2019

What is Goa’s ‘Opinion Poll Day’?


Mains Paper 1: Modern Indian History | Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Goan Asmitai Dis

Mains level: Goan freedom struggle and its consolidation



  1. Goa celebrated its 52nd ‘Asmitai Dis’ (Identity Day) or Opinion Poll Day on January 16.
  2. It was on this date in 1967 that Goans voted against merging with Maharashtra and chose to remain a Union Territory.
  3. Though referred to as an ‘opinion poll’, the vote was in fact a plebiscite.

Goan Liberation

  1. Soon after Goa’s liberation from colonial Portuguese rule in 1961, murmurs began of a merger with Maharashtra on grounds of cultural similarity.
  2. The argument was that Konkani was a dialect of Marathi and not an independent language.
  3. With factions who wanted a merger with Maharashtra, a plebiscite was held.
  4. On January 16, 1967, Goans voted against merging with Maharashtra and chose to remain a Union Territory.

Row for Plebiscite

  1. Jawaharlal Nehru had promised that Goa would get to decide its own future, but he had passed away in May 1964.
  2. Delegations from both sides met PM Shastri in New Delhi, but Shastri himself passed away in Tashkent in January 1966, before a decision could be made.
  3. In May 1966, Goan protagonists succeeded in convincing new PM Indira Gandhi that Assembly elections could not be a referendum on the merger question and that an ‘opinion poll’ was necessary.

Passing the Opinion Poll Act

  1. In December 1966, Parliament passed the Goa, Daman and Diu (Opinion Poll Act), 1966.
  2. It aimed to provide for the taking of an opinion poll to ascertain the wishes of the electors of Goa, Daman and Diu with regard to the future status thereof and for matters connected therewith.
  3. On voting day, voters were asked to put a tick against the ‘rose’ symbol if they were in favour of a merger, and a tick against the ‘two leaves’ symbol if they were not in favour.

Goa saves itself from merger

  1. Poll was held on January 16, 1967 and Goa stood as independent UT.
  2. Soon afterward began demands for statehood for Goa; however, it was only on May 30, 1987, that Goa became India’s 25th state. Daman and Diu continue to be Union Territories.
  3. Konkani was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution on August 20, 1992 (71st Amendment).
  4. Interestingly though, until 2018, the state government did not officially celebrate Opinion Poll Day.



  • Referendum is a process by which a government refers any issue of public importance including a constitutional amendment and right to self determination to the people for the approval by popular vote.


  • It is a kind of referendum held by the government on the strength of the right to self determination enjoyed by the section of people.
  • The outcome of Plebiscite may or may not be legally binding on the government.
  • Since it has the potential to disturb the territorial integrity of a country.
Dec, 19, 2018

How India fuelled slavery with the export of cotton


Mains Paper 1: Modern Indian History | From about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  The attached story is full of factual details

Mains level: Colonial trade and its impact on domestic artisans


200 years since cotton mills in India

  1. In 1708, the old English East India Company had just merged with the United Company of Merchants of England to become the East India Company.
  2. That same year, the company’s Indian headquarters shifted from Bombay to Calcutta.
  3. A century later, in 1818, the first Indian cotton mill, the Bowreah Mills, was created by Henry Gouger at Fort Gloster in the Hughli district of Calcutta.

Indian owned mills

  1. The first truly Indian cotton mill is usually attributed to Cowasjee Nanabhai Davar of Bombay Spinning and Weaving Company.
  2. Built in Bombay in 1851, it started work in 1854.
  3. The very first cotton mills in India, however, were powered by the British.

Quest for Indian Cotton

  1. When the American Civil War broke out (1861-65), the export of long-staple American cotton to the Lancashire Mills stopped, becoming the chief reason why Britain began to look towards India for raw cotton.
  2. Britain thus bought India’s crop, grown under strict regulations of imperial revenue and taxation, finished it into cheap textiles and oversold it to the colony under the monopoly of its administration.
  3. The number of cotton mills in India rose from 58 in 1880 to 79 in 1883, 193 in 1900, 271 in 1914, and 334 in 1929 — mostly in Bombay and Ahmedabad.

Fuelling slavery

  1. Indian cotton was the gasoline for the Industrial Revolution in Britain as well as the accelerator of railway projects in India.
  2. It is famously remarked that India “paid for its own oppression” under British rule.
  3. India has exported cotton and fabrics to Europe since the 16th century — in the process procuring its own slavery and that of Africa.
  4. And this came about a little over a century after driving millions of homespun cotton weavers and craftsmen to mortal bankruptcy.

Dhaka Muslin lost its popularity

  1. Indian muslins were known as aab-e-rawan (running water), shabnam (evening dew) and beft hawa (woven air).
  2. Before this revolution, Dhaka muslin was the lavish article in Britain, but soon the delicacy of Indian cotton was being feted.
  3. French travellers Francois Bernier and Jean-Baptiste Tavernier wrote of its ubiquity in Mughal harems and on the bodies of royal personages.

The three-continent spanning enterprise

  1. Even when East India Company took control of over 70% of the world’s saltpetre by controlling Bengal, cotton continued to be its principal export, occupying 75% of the company’s total trade in 1766.
  2. The India cotton trade became a three-continent spanning enterprise: “cotton from India, slaves from Africa, and sugar from the Caribbean moved across the planet in a complex commercial dance,” writes Beckert.
  3. Lancashire and Manchester — the cotton textile manufacturing and retailing cities of Britain — profited tremendously from the market for Indian cotton that had already existed in pre-industrial Europe.
  4. Mining the ‘white gold,’ as cotton was also called, became Britain’s native industry.

Deep paradox

  1. Gandhi understood the ghostliness of an industry that had mummified weavers into power looms.
  2. And one of the first strikes he led was at a cotton mill in Ahmedabad in 1918.
  3. The charkha was Gandhi’s attempt to crystallize the very deep paradox of an Indian economy and culture in the hands of Western imperialism.
  4. The real colonization was not just British economic exploitation, but the transition of India from a self-sustained economy to an industrialized nation, which would preserve and perpetuate the class divide.

India’s staggering cotton exports

  1. Five years ago, in 2013, there were about 2,000 cotton mills in India.
  2. This was still 600 less than the number of mills in Lancashire alone in 1860.
  3. Two hundred years after its first cotton mill, India has been unable to come close to the scale that Britain enjoyed during the Industrial Revolution.
  4. And from 2013 to 2017, although still the third biggest cotton exporter in the world, India’s total cotton exports have fallen by a staggering 59%.
Dec, 07, 2018

[op-ed snap] A larger freedom


Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Gandhi’s role and initiatives in the freedom struggle

Mains level: Relevance of Gandhian thoughts in current context


Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom experiences

  1. Throughout his public life in India (1915-48), Gandhi devoted his energies to both the political campaign for India’s freedom as well as a range of socio-economic interventions that were clubbed under the rubric of constructive work
  2. Such activities included communal harmony, the removal of untouchability, sanitation, khadi, village industries and basic education or Nai Talim

Factors that influenced Gandhi’s activities

  1. Subsequent to the Poona Pact, in 1933-34, Gandhi undertook a countrywide campaign against untouchability
  2. His experiences and thinking in that period deeply informed the shape of constructive work in the 1930s
  3. First, during his travels, Gandhi witnessed the severe distress across agrarian India that was subjected to the economic consequences of the Great Depression
  4. Second, sharp political differences had emerged between Gandhi and the Congress leadership
  5. Third, Gandhi was influenced by the unhappy experience of running khadi activities under the umbrella of the Congress in the 1920s

Gandhi’s views

  1. Throughout the 1930s, Gandhi was concerned with the quality of freedom to be obtained in a future free India
  2. In a context where ordinary citizens had limited education, skills and resources, the challenge of economic justice demanded that the masses be able to participate as meaningful actors in the economy of the country
  3. It is this demand of justice that lead him to devote his attention to the needs of the village
  4. In order to devote himself to addressing the economic needs of rural India, Gandhi resigned from the Congress in 1934, founded the All-India Village Industries Association (AIVIA) and eventually moved to Sevagram
  5. It is also in the 1930s that Gandhi introduced his radical approach of Nai Talim that sought to make elementary education accessible, affordable and meaningful to all children

Emphasis on constructive work

  1. In and after 1942, in an atmosphere suffused with the potential for violence, Gandhi become increasingly convinced of the efficacy and urgency of constructive work
  2. While Gandhi met with lesser success in his constructive work compared with his political campaigns, he saw them as an indivisible whole
  3. Arguably, constructive work can be thought of as a different mode of politics

Gandhi’s relevance in today’s India

  1. An independent India rejected his economic model that placed the individual and the agrarian economy at the centre and instead took to industrial modernity
  2. But the questions that Gandhi sought to address through constructive work are very much alive today
  3. While the country has witnessed high growth rates in recent decades, both urban and rural India are plagued by the problems of social and economic inequality and injustice as well as the challenges posed by a multitude of environmental crises
  4. Much like his approach to non-violent politics, Gandhi’s thinking on constructive work also offers useful contemporary lessons to those willing to listen and heed
Nov, 27, 2018

[op-ed snap] Legacies crucial for the commons


Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: UPSC has been asking comparison questions between famous personalities on a continuous basis. The editorial is very important in that context


Anniversaries of Gandhi & Marx

  1. The 150th birth anniversary year of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and the 200th birth anniversary of Karl Marx went by this year
  2. Such anniversaries can become occasions of tokenism — for instance, the Indian government has set up a committee with more than 100 members to coordinate celebrations of Gandhi’s anniversary
  3. Any meaningful homage to Gandhi would call into question the very fundamentals of today’s political and economic power, and point a sharply critical gaze at the rampant abuse of religion and nationalism and so too perhaps for Marx

Legacy of these stalwarts continues

  1. The celebrations are being led by so-called revolutionary governments in those parts of the world where Leftist parties still hold power
  2. This does not mean that these two figures are of no relevance now. On the contrary, they are even more so than before
  3. Their legacy is crucial for the majority of the world’s population, marginalised by capitalism, statism, patriarchy and other structures of oppression
  4. As it is for the rest of nature, so badly abused by humanity

Resistance and construction

  1. There are many movements of sangharsh (resistance) and nirman (construction) throughout the world
  2. These movements realise that the injustices they are facing, and the choices they must make, are not bound by the divides that ideologues play games with
  • Resistance movements
  1. At any given time in India, there are dozens of sites where Adivasis, farmers, fisherpersons, pastoralists and others are refusing to part with their land or forest or water to make way for so-called development projects
  2. News that is both inspiring and depressing keeps coming from Latin America, of indigenous people standing up for their territorial rights against mining and oil extraction, and all too frequently paying the price when state or corporate forces kill their leaders
  3. There have been movements for land and forest rights, communal harmony, workers’ security and other causes in India that are not so easy to place in any ideological camp
  • Construction of alternatives
  1. Across the world, there are incredible examples of sustainable and holistic agriculture, community-led water/energy/food sovereignty, worker takeover of production facilities, resource/knowledge commons, local governance, community health and alternative learning, inter-community peace-building, the reassertion of cultural diversity, gender and sexual pluralism, and much else

Common features of these movements

  1. There is the exploration of autonomy, self-reliance, people’s governance of politics and the economy, freedom with responsibility for the freedom of others, and respect for the rest of nature
  2. While these movements do often call for policy interventions from a more accountable state, there is also an underlying antipathy to the centralised state, as there is in both Gandhian swaraj and in Marxist communism and in many versions of anarchy
  3. Private property is also challenged
  4. While Gandhi was weak on challenging capital, and Marx on stressing the fundamental spiritual or ethical connections amongst humans, these movements often tend to bridge these gaps
  5. Many of them integrate the need to re-establish ecological resilience and wisdom, some even arguing for extending equal respect to other species
  6. They also encompass Marx’s vision of a society that bridges humanity’s ‘metabolic rift’ with nature, and Gandhi’s repeated emphasis on living lightly on the earth
  7. With this they also challenge the very fundamentals of ‘development’, especially its mad fixation on economic growth, reliance on ever-increasing production and consumption, and its utter disregard for inequality

Way forward

  1. There are points of tension between Gandhi & Marx, for instance, on the issue of non-violence as a principle
  2. There are points of ambiguity in recognising that indigenous peoples have already lived many elements of their dreams
  3. But there is critical common ground amongst them if our ultimate goals are well-being, justice, and equity, based on ecological wisdom
  4. We would do well to honour their legacy by identifying such common ground and building on the struggles and creativity of ‘ordinary’ people in communities across the world
Nov, 16, 2018

[op-ed snap] The impact of World War I on India


Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World War 1, Indian national movement

Mains level: How WW-I impacted India’s socioeconomic growth as well as its independence movement


India’s contribution in WW-I

  1. When the Lahore Division and the Meerut Division entered World War I, they were the first Indian soldiers ever to take part in a war in Europe
  2. By the time they sailed out from Marseilles 14 months later, they and their compatriots—138,608 Indians in all—had helped blunt Germany’s Schlieffen Plan
  3. Formulated by German Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen in 1905-06, the Plan envisaged a short war—a quick, decisive invasion and defeat of France via Belgium, forestalling the attritional war that would allow the superior strength of the probable Allied powers to be deployed
  4. With the 100th anniversary of the Armistice and the inauguration of monuments to Indian soldiers in France, it is a contribution worth remembering

Effect of the war on Indian national movement

  1. There was a surge of nationalism and rise of mass civil disobedience when the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms’ failed to deliver on the expectation of home rule that had led to popular support for the British war effort
  2. As the war dragged on, casualties mounted and recruitment methods grew more coercive, resentment grew
  3. It is no coincidence, perhaps, that Punjab—which supplied a large proportion of the troops thanks to the British martial races theory—turned into an epicentre of nationalism after the war
  4. Post-war military reforms to transform the Indian army into a modern force started a process that accelerated with the onset of World War II
  5. By 1946, the Indian military was a potent enough force that the prospect of its rebellion, triggered by the Royal Indian Naval Mutiny that year, was a major contributor to the British decision to fold

Socioeconomic impact

  1. Between 1911 and 1921, literacy rates (as well as the number of literate individuals) increased significantly in heavily recruited communities
  2. This effect is strongest for men of military age, which is consistent with the hypothesis that soldiers learned to read and write on their foreign campaigns
  3. A war economy is by definition a distorted one
  4. The logic of empire exaggerated this. Requisitioning of food supplies, particularly cereals, led to rampant food inflation
  5. The drain on the Indian economy in the form of cash, kind and loans to the British government came to about 367 million pounds

Rise in the domestic market

  1. Domestic manufacturing sectors such as cotton benefited from the decline in British goods that had dominated the pre-war market
  2. The steel sector—so crucial after independence—benefited as well. For instance, the ailing Tata steel mills were handed a lifeline in the form of a contract to supply rails to the Mesopotamian campaign
  3. British investment was rerouted to the UK, creating opportunities for Indian capital
  4. In short, the war economy boosted Indian capitalism in some ways at least


  1. The Indian national movement and the country’s socio-economic development did not take place in isolation
  2. World War I linked India to global events in profound ways with far-reaching consequences
Nov, 06, 2018

[op-ed snap] The forgotten million: on Indian soldiers in World War I


Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Quit India Movement

Mains level: World war 1, 2 & India’s contribution in it


Role of Indian soldiers in WW-I

  1. One hundred years after the end of World War I, the immense sacrifice and contributions of well over a million soldiers of undivided India are being incrementally recognised and memorialised the world over
  2. In France, the centenary celebrations of Armistice Day on November 11 will include the unveiling of the second overseas national war memorial for Indian soldiers
  3. The first such memorial abroad, formalised in 2002, is the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, which is a recognition that more than 130,000 Indian soldiers fought in WWI in Belgium, at least 10,000 of whom lost their lives on the battlefield
  4. Last month, British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to wear a khadi poppy in honour of more than 74,000 soldiers from pre-Partition India who fought on the side of the allies and died in battle

Not received proper respect from the British

  1. In the early days of the War, troops of the Indian Army, backed by the political bourgeoisie, were enthusiastic in responding to the British government’s call for military support from India
  2. This was because, although the swadeshi movement was underway, the freedom movement was in a fledgeling stage
  3. Even Mahatma Gandhi was open to Indians enlisting and learning to defend themselves using arms, as were leaders such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak
  4. Despite this, the Indian troops were given inhumane treatment, including floggings, denial of home leave, and brazenly racial-discriminatory treatment

Influence of World Wars on India’s freedom movement and future

  1. The pressure for the enlistment of Indians in the World War II effort produced an entirely different outcome — the Quit India movement and the escalation of the freedom movement
  2. WWI also influenced the collective psyche of the government of independent India, starting with the tenets of non-alignment that came to embody a core mantra of the country’s foreign policy ethos

Way forward

  1. While India remains wary of ‘treaty alliances’ and steers clear of combat involvement in third-party conflicts, it is the third-largest contributor of military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping missions
  2. Though the conditions faced by Indian peacekeepers must be difficult, they must be thankful that their country would never put them in the sort of situation that their predecessors faced from 1914 to 1918
Nov, 03, 2018

Cabinet clears renaming Jharsuguda aerodrome as Veer Surendra Sai airport


Mains Paper 1: Freedom Struggle | Various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Veer Surendra Sai

Mains level: Read the attached story



  • The Union Cabinet has approved renaming Jharsuguda aerodrome in Odisha as ‘Veer Surendra Sai Airport’.
  • Veer Surendra Sai is a well-known freedom fighter of Odisha.

About Veer Surendra Sai (1809-1884)

  1. Surendra Sai was an Indian freedom fighter and tribal leader who sacrificed his life fighting against the British East India Company.
  2. Surendra Sai and his associates resisted the British and successfully protected most parts of Western Odisha region for some time from the British rule.
  3. By virtue of the Doctrine of Lapse, Lord Dalhousie annexed Sambalpur in 1849 and ignored the claim of Surendra Sai for succession to throne of Sambalpur.
  4. The aim of Surendra Sai’s revolt was to drive the British out of Sambalpur.
  5. The resistance to British continued in Sambalpur under the leadership of Surendra Sai. He was supported by his brothers, sons, relatives and some Zamindars.
  6. His revolution against the British commenced from 1827 when he was only 18 years of age and continued till 1862 when he surrendered and even after that, until he was finally arrested in 1864
Oct, 31, 2018

[pib] Statue of Unity


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Statue of Unity

Mains level: Not Much



  • The Prime Minister will dedicate the world’s tallest statue, the “Statue of Unity”, to the Nation, today on October 31, 2018.

About Statue of Unity

  1. It is located facing the Narmada Dam, at Kevadiya in Gujarat
  2. The monument along with its surroundings occupies over 20,000 square metres, and is surrounded by a 12 square km artificial lake.
  3. It is the world’s tallest statue with the height of 182 metres (597 ft) designed by Ram V. Sutar and designed and executed by Larsen & Toubro.
  4. The total height of the statue from its base will be 240-metre consisting base level of 58 meters and statue of 182 meters.
  5. It is constructed with steel framing, reinforced cement concrete, and bronze cladding.
  6. The statue needed 75,000 cubic metres of concrete, 5,700 tonnes of steel structure, 18,500 tonnes of reinforced steel rods, 22,500 tonnes of bronze sheets for construction.
  7. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), a special purpose vehicle was established by the Government of Gujarat for its construction and the outreach programme was carried out across India starting December 2013.
Oct, 20, 2018

[pib] 75th Year of Establishment of Azad Hind Government


Mains Paper 1: Freedom Struggle | Various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Azad Hind Govt.

Mains level: Contribution of AHG in Indian Independence



  • Hon’ble PM will unveil the plaque to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the formation of Azad Hind Government, at the Red Fort, Delhi.

Azad Hind Government

  1. The Provisional Government of Free India, or, more simply, Free India (Azad Hind), was an Indian provisional government established in occupied Singapore in 1943.
  2. S.C. Bose was the leader of Azad Hind Government (AHG) and also the Head of State of this Provisional Indian Government-in-exile.
  3. It was established by Indian nationalists-in-exile during the latter part of the Second World War in Singapore with monetary, military and political assistance from Imperial Japan.
  4. It was a part of the freedom movement, originating in 1940s outside India with a purpose of allying with Axis powers to free India from British rule.
  5. Pertinently, the role of Azad Hind Fauj or the Indian National Army (INA) had been crucial in bequeathing a much needed impetus to India’s struggle for Independence.

Administration of the AHG

  1. Azad Hind was recognised as a legitimate state by only a small number of countries limited solely to Axis powers and their allies.
  2. Azad Hind had diplomatic relations with nine countries: Nazi Germany, the Empire of Japan, Italian Social Republic, Independent State of Croatia and Wang Jingwei Government, Thailand, the State of Burma, Manchukuo and the Second Philippine Republic.

Territories under AHG

  1. AHG had been given a limited form of governmental jurisdiction over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which had been captured by the Imperial Japanese Navy early on in the war.
  2. Once under the jurisdiction of Azad Hind, the islands formed the government’s first claims to territory.
  3. The islands themselves were renamed “Shaheed” and “Swaraj respectively.

Collapse of AHG

  1. INA under the leadership of Bose got defeated severely at Rangoon due to lack of support of Japanese.
  2. Bose was suggested to leave Burma to continue his struggle for Indian independence and returned to Singapore before the fall of Rangoon.
  3. The AHG govt in the islands collapsed when the island garrisons of Japanese and Indian troops were defeated by British troops and the islands themselves retaken.
  4. The Provisional Government of Free India ceased to exist with the deaths of the Axis, the INA, and Bose in 1945.
  5. It was followed by the Famous Trials at Red Fort.

Importance of INA and AHG

  1. The true extent to which the AHG and INA activities weakened the very foundation of the British Empire in India was the sparking of mutiny among Indian Soldiers.
  2. The Royal Indian Navy Mutiny made the British realize that the support of the Indian armed forces could no longer be relied upon.
Oct, 17, 2018

How Satyagraha still drives change globally


Mains Paper 1: World History | Political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global non-violence movements

Mains level: Success of non-violent struggle across the globe


Gandhi: A leader with a Global Cause

  1. Gandhi is a global figure who is rarely studied and analysed from a global perspective.
  2. As a global thinker with a trans-historical influence, Gandhi applied his experiments with truth and practice of non-violence, not only at an individual level but also in the process of the global affairs.
  3. Therefore, as in the case of means and ends, truth and non-violence were interchangeable entities beyond cultural borders and mental ghettos for Gandhi.

Gandhi’s Relevance in Global Politics

  1. According to Gandhi, non-violence in international politics was a matter of non-violent organization of the world bringing peace and inter-connectedness among cultures and civilizations.
  2. Gandhi was always concerned with cooperation among nations in terms of mutual understanding, empathetic friendship and non-violent partnership.

Cultural Harmony and Peaceful Co-existence

  1. The heart of Gandhi’s ethics of inter-connectedness and mutuality was to look within oneself, change oneself and then change the world.
  2. That is to say, at a more fundamental level, for Gandhi, cultures and nations were not isolated entities, because they all played a special role in the making of human history.
  3. Therefore, Gandhi rarely spoke in terms of a linear world history. His goal for every culture (including his own) was the same as his goal for every individual: to find the truth and establish peace.
  4. This was a way for him to open up the world to a harmonic exchange and a transformative dialogue among nations.
  5. Therefore, at a more philosophical level, Gandhi believed that every culture should learn from others.

Democratization of Cultural Pluralism

  1. Gandhi’s conception of “enlarged pluralism” took on the task of fostering togetherness and solidarity among cultures and traditions.
  2. It was in the interest of democratizing modernity and bringing about a more just global order.

Global success of Satyagraha

  1. Satyagraha turned into a global instrument of non-violent dissent against authoritarianism and a pragmatic tool of the powerless against the powerful.
  2. There have been several successful experiences of Satyagraha in the past 50 years.
  3. Many of Gandhi’s followers successfully launched their own Satyagraha against racial, religious and economic injustice and struggled for human rights.
  4. One could mention names like Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Benigno Aquino, Jr. and many others.

[I] Defying Religion and Ethnicity: Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan

  1. Gandhian non-violence was already invoked during his lifetime by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as the “Frontier Gandhi”.
  2. Few people know about Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan as a Muslim proponent of non-violence, who stressed the compatibility of Islam and Satyagraha.
  3. The recent history of non-violent action around the world has shown us clearly that Satyagraha is a seed that can grow and flourish in other cultures and religions rather than only in the Hindu society.

 [II] Defying Racism: Martin Luther King, Jr

  1. Often labelled as the “American Gandhi”, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized Gandhi’s legacy of non-violence for the effectiveness of his own campaigns in areas such as integration and voting rights.
  2. He embraced Gandhi’s Satyagraha as a method of struggle for the emancipation of blacks in the US.
  3. Non-violent action was related to a permanent struggle in human nature between good and evil as per King.
  4. King adopted two principal tactics of non-cooperation and civil disobedience against racist laws in the US.
  5. For him, the practical consequence of the belief in Gandhian Satyagraha was an active application of the two concepts of love and community in terms of the concrete realities of black experience in America.

[III] Democratic Deliberations and Civic Participation: Nelson Mandela

  1. The Gandhian experience of non-violent action found its most authentic exemplification in the African continent with Nelson Mandela.
  2. Undoubtedly, Mandela’s imprint and influence on our world and times as a non-violent leader remain as powerful as that of Gandhi.
  3. His release after having served twenty-seven years in prison was celebrated as the triumph of empathetic truth and non-violence over injustice and repression.
  4. By practicing Gandhian non-violence in South African politics, Mandela became one of the key models for global Gandhism in the 21st century.

Mandela: the unparalleled Gandhi

  1. Mandel opined that in order to make peace with an enemy, one must work with that enemy, and that enemy becomes your partner.
  2. This is the clue to Mandela’s Gandhian moment, which puzzled thoughts in the black and in the white communities within South Africa
  3. Mandela strengthened the institutional bases of the Gandhian moment by engaging his moral capital in the direction of civic participation and democratic deliberation in South Africa.

[IV] Against Autocratic State: Arab Spring

  1. In the past 30 years, the world witnessed non-violent campaigns and movements in places such as Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, Myanmar, Iran, the Palestinian Territories, Egypt, and Tunisia.
  2. The non-violent democratic awakenings in West Asia from 2009 to 2012 demonstrated once again that Gandhian non-violence could help to provide the disobedient space that is needed.
  3. What united Tunisian and Egyptian citizens in their democratic uprisings was freedom from interference and a struggle against the concentration of arbitrary power.
  4. Their freedom meant putting an end to the unjust accumulation of power and to demand their governments to be based on public accountability and popular sovereignty.
  5. Though these non-violent social movements were not homogeneous, they provided the West Asian societies with a new Gandhian tool of struggle beyond the rule of political parties.


  1. In many countries, non-violent civic pressure has been used to fight colonialism and foreign occupation, advance women’s and minority rights, and improve transparency and good governance.
  2. Gandhian non-violence has been instrumental in political transitions from authoritarian or oppressive rule for many decades.
  3. Indeed, non-violent revolutions, characterized by civil society organization, mass mobilization, and negotiation, have revolutionized the very concept of revolution.
  4. Long gone are the days when the very concept of revolution was synonymous with violent struggle from below and armed efforts at state capture or overthrow.
Oct, 11, 2018

[pib] Sir Chhotu Ram and his Agricultural Reforms


Mains Paper 1: Freedom Struggle| Various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sir Chhotu Ram and his Reforms

Mains level: Agricultural reforms in colonial period



  • PM unveiled a statue of Deenbandhu Sir Chhotu Ram in Rohtak, Haryana.

Sir Chhotu Ram (1881-1945)

  1. Sir Chhotu Ram was a prominent politician in British India’s Punjab Province, an ideologue of the peasants of pre-Independent India.
  2. He championed the interest of oppressed peasants of the Indian Sub-continent.
  3. He tried to create a non-sectarian peasant group consciousness.
  4. He formed the Unionist Party (Zamindara League) in 1923, which was a cross-communal alliance of Hindu Jats and Muslim agriculturists.
  5. He was awarded the title of ‘Rao Bahadur’ and was accorded knighthood in 1937.
  6. He popularly came to be known as Deen Bandhu.

Political activities

  1. The Congress boycotted the 1920 elections, while Chhotu Ram got elected on a Zamindara Party ticket.
  2. His coalition party won the general elections of 1936 and formed a coalition government with himself becoming Revenue Minister.
  3. Chhotu Ram helped in the British Army recruitment effort for the First World War, and was instrumental in the recruitment of 22,144 from Rohtak area.
  4. He again backed a massive recruitment drive of the British during the Second World War.

Notable Agricultural Reforms

  1. As a member of the pre-Partition Punjab Legislative Council, his first major achievement was the passage of the Punjab Land Revenue (Amendment) Act, 1929, which remains a landmark social legislation till date.
  2. The exploitation of the peasantry by moneylenders was brought to an end with a series of measures, starting with the Punjab Regulation of Accounts Act, 1930.
  3. It was followed by the Punjab Debtors Protection Act of 1936 and the Punjab Relief of Indebtedness Act, 1943.
  4. It became mandatory for moneylenders to register themselves, without which they could not advance loans or prosecute farmers.
  5. All land attached and sold after June 8, 1901, and mortgaged for 37 years, was restored to its owners. Farmers were required only to give an application on plain paper to the district collector.
  6. If any moneylender had recovered twice the loan amount, the farmer was given his land back.
  7. Reconciliation boards were set up; confiscation of milch cattle, oxen, camels and carts or means of earning was barred.
  8. The Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act was passed in 1939, popularly called the Mandi Act which provided for the constitution of market committees in notified areas, and helped free the farmer from exploitation.
  9. A consolidation of land holdings was undertaken after passing the Consolidations Holding Act, 1936, amended in 1945.
  10. Not only were all these laws passed; Chhotu Ram also ensured their implementation.
Sep, 25, 2018

[pib] Centenary Celebrations of Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha


Mains Paper 1: Freedom Struggle| Various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha

Mains level: Hindi Movement in South India.



  1. Institutions like the Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha have played a very important role in strengthening the emotional unity of our country.
  2. The Sabha has developed a network of about 20,000 Hindi campaigners.

Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha

  1. Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha is an organisation whose main goal is to improve Hindi literacy among the non-Hindi speaking people of South Indi and is headquartered in Chennai.
  2. The organisation was established by Annie Besant with support from Mahatma Gandhi, who became the founder president of the Sabha, who held the post till his death.
  3. The first Hindi class here was taken by M. Gandhi’s son Devdas Gandhi.
  4. In 1964, the institution was recognised by the Indian Government as one of the Institutes of National Importance.

Hindi Movement in South India

  1. The Hindi movement in South India was started in the year 1918 by Mahatma Gandhi.
  2. Gandhi saw the need to unite the northern and southern states of the country in the greatest interest of integration of the nation, as Hindi was spoken by the largest section of the people of India.
  3. Therefore, he founded this Sabha at Madras to propagate the study of Hindi in the then Madras Presidency and other princely states.
  4. Under this, Hindi training schools were started in Andhra and Tamil Nadu.
  5. By 1927, the Hindi Prachar Sabha emerged as an independent organization, and Mahatma Gandhi remained its president until his death in 1948.
  6. Gandhiji desired that the ‘Hindi Prachar‘in the south should be carried on by involving the local people of the respective area.
Sep, 07, 2018

[pib] Centenary of the Battle of Haifa Celebrated


Mains Paper 1: World History | History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Battle of Haifa

Mains level: Contribution of Indian Soldiers in World Wars.



  • The Embassy of India held a ceremony in Haifa to mark the Centenary of the Battle of Haifa when on 23 Sep 1918; Indian soldiers from the Jodhpur, Mysore and Hyderabad Lancers liberated the city of Haifa.

Battle of Haifa

  1. Owing to its rail and harbour, Israeli port city of Haifa was a strategic supply base.
  2. In addition to Haifa, the Allied Forces also engineered a plan to annexe Nazareth and Damascus in present-day Israel and Syria.
  3. On September 23, 1918, the 15th (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade comprising lancers from the regiments of princely states of Jodhpur and Mysore inflicted heavy assault on positions held by Ottoman Turks in and around the city of Haifa.
  4. Eventually, the Indian cavalry brigades fighting under the leadership of British General Edmund Allenby helped liberate Haifa from the clutches of the Turkish-German forces.
  5. A total of 1,350 German and Ottoman prisoners were captured by the two Indian regiments.

Significance of Haifa war

  1. The victory was more special as the Indian soldiers were armed only with lances (a kind of spear) and swords while the Turks had in their possession advance artillery and machine guns.
  2. The Indian troops displayed exemplary cavalry skills and valour during what was considered to be the last major cavalry campaign in military history.
  3. No more remarkable cavalry action of its scale was fought in the whole course of the campaign.

Haifa War in news

  1. As a symbolic gesture of friendship with Israel, India renamed the iconic Teen Murti Chowk, a war memorial, during the visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Haifa Chowk.
  2. Every year on September 23, the Indian Army celebrates ‘Haifa Day’ to commemorate the war dead during the Battle.
Aug, 25, 2018

20 years since slave trade was abolished


Mains Paper 1: World History | Events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Haitian Revolution

Mains level: Abolition of Slave Trade


United Nations’ International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

  1. This day is observed every year on August 23 to remind people of the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade, the largest deportation in history.
  2. The day is commemorated to pay tribute to all those who fought for freedom and worked hard to abolish the slave trade and slavery throughout the world.
  3. It was first celebrated in many countries, in particular in Haiti, on August 23, 1998, and in Senegal on August 23, 1999.
  4. Each year, the UN invites people all over the world, including educators, students, and artists and organize events that are the center of the theme on this day.

Additional steps taken by UNESCO

  1. To honour the history of the slave trade and its abolition in 2017 added to its World Heritage List the Mbanza Kongo, Vestiges of the Capital of the former Kingdom of Kongo (Angola) and the Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site (Brazil).
  2. UNESCO also started an initiative in 1994 known as the ‘Slave Route’ project to contribute to a better understanding of the causes, forms of operation, issues and consequences of slavery in the world;

Background of the Haitian Revolution

  1. The Haitian Revolution was a successful anti-slavery and anti-colonial insurrection by self-liberated slaves against French colonial rule in Saint-Domingue, now the sovereign nation of Haiti.
  2. The night of August 22-23, 1791saw the beginning of the uprising that would play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
  3. Men and women sold into slavery, revolted against the slave system to obtain freedom and independence for Haiti.
  4. The rebellion weakened the Caribbean colonial system, sparking an uprising that led to abolishing slavery and giving the island its independence.
  5. It marked the beginning of the destruction of the slavery system, the slave trade, and colonialism.
  6. The large and well-organized uprising, better known as the Haitian Revolution, lasted 13 years and ended with the independent nation of Haiti.

Impact of the Revolution

  1. Its effects on the institution of slavery were felt throughout the Americas.
  2. The end of French rule and the abolition of slavery in the former colony was followed by a successful defense of the freedoms they won, and, with the collaboration of free persons of color, their independence from white Europeans.
  3. It represents the largest slave uprising since Spartacus’s unsuccessful revolt against the Roman Republic nearly 1,900 years earlier.
  4. It challenged long-held European beliefs about alleged black inferiority and about enslaved persons’ capacity to achieve and maintain their own freedom.
  5. The rebels’ organizational capacity and tenacity under pressure inspired stories that shocked and frightened slave owners in the hemisphere.
  6. The success of the rebellion, led by the slaves is a deep source of inspiration today for the fight against all forms of servitude, racism, prejudice, racial discrimination and social injustice that are a legacy of slavery.
Aug, 14, 2018

[pib] First project under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme the ‘North East Circuit to be inaugurated


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: North-East Circuit and Swadesh Darshan Scheme

Mains level: Expanding tourism in NE India


  1. “Development of North East Circuit: Imphal & Khongjom” implemented under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme of Ministry of Tourism was inaugurated
  2. It is the first project under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme being inaugurated in the country

About Imphal & Khongjom

  1. The project covers two sites i.e. Kangla Fort and Khongjom
  2. Kangla Fort is one of the most important historic and archaeological sites of Manipur located in the heart of the Imphal city
  3. It served as the seat of Manipur’s power till 1891
  4. Kangla has a special place in the hearts and minds of the people of Manipur
  5. The old Govindajee Temple, outer and inner moat and other relics are perfect reflections of the rich art and architectural heritage of Manipur
  6. Khongjom is the place where the last war of resistance of Anglo Manipur War of 1891 was fought


Swadesh Darshan

  1. India’s rich cultural, historical, religious and natural heritage provides a huge potential for development of tourism and job creation in the country
  2. This can be achieved only through an integrated approach by providing engaging experiences for distinct categories of tourists i.e. Domestic and International
  3. In due recognition to this the Government of India, Ministry of Tourism (MoT) launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme (Central Sector Scheme) for integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits in the country in 2014-15
  4. Various themes which are unique and specific to the area can include beaches, culture, heritage, wildlife etc.
  5. Such theme based tourist circuits are developed in a manner that supports communities, provides employment and fosters social integration without comprising upon the environmental concerns and provides unique experiences to the tourists
  6. This scheme is envisioned to synergise with other Government of India schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill India, Make in India etc. with the idea of positioning the tourism sector as a major engine for job creation and economic growth.
Aug, 07, 2018

[op-ed snap] Thirty years after the 8888 uprising


Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 8888 uprising

Mains level: Military intervention in Myanmar’s democracy & its impact on government functioning


Myanmar’s 8888 uprising

  1. August 8 marks the 30th anniversary of the people’s uprising in Myanmar
  2. The ‘8888’ uprising (or the eighth day of August 1988) is one of Myanmar’s most important historic days in the context of the pro-democracy movement
  3. For a few years now, the day has also been observed in different parts of the world by Burmese expatriates
  4. Inside Myanmar too, it has been marked by pro-democracy groups in different capacities

Importance of the movement

  1. ‘8888’ was a people’s movement that challenged the then ruling Burma Socialist Programme Party’s grip on political, economic and social affairs which led the country into extreme poverty
  2. The protests and the bloody crackdown gave rise to the National League for Democracy (NLD)
  3. Ii was a political party which paved the way for the current Myanmar State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi’s entry into politics and for the pro-democracy movement to continue
  4. The past 30 years have seen a change in leadership — from military dictatorship to a military-backed semi-democracy and then to a negotiated hybrid regime with power being shared between unelected military personnel and an elected civilian leadership

Objective of the 8888 movement

The objective of ‘8888’ was two-fold:

  • to push for the transfer of power from the military to a civilian leadership and
  • a change in the political system from an authoritarian regime to a multi-party democracy

Minorities still struggling for rights

  1. For the country’s ethnic minorities, their struggle and political demands that date back to before Myanmar’s independence in 1948 continue
  2. The non-Burman ethnic armed groups have fought for a federal democracy that guarantees autonomy or self-determination in their respective areas and the right for control over their people and resources
  3. The kind of federalism the ethnic minorities want, based on equality of rights to all citizens, has been denied by the military leadership and the government

Military’s role in democracy

  1. The democratic transition in Myanmar thus far has been meticulously designed by the military
  2. The primary objective, which is laid out in the country’s 2008 Constitution, is to give the military a dominant role in politics
  3. In a parallel to the ‘Burmese way to socialism’ introduced by former military leader Ne Win in the 1960s, Myanmar now practices what can be called the ‘Burmese way to democracy’ outlined in the military’s seven-step roadmap to a flourishing democracy announced in 2003

Way forward

  1. No democracy can succeed when the military holds the reins and is unaccountable to an elected civilian leadership
  2. For democracy to strike deep roots in Myanmar, the role of the ‘8888’ leaders remains important
  3. The military must note that the people of Myanmar, as well as members of the international community, want a democracy that respects the rights of all its people, including the minorities
Aug, 04, 2018

Who was Pingali Venkayya?


Mains Paper 1: Freedom Struggle| Various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Contribution of Pingali Venkayya

Mains level:  Read the attached story


The story of Indian Flag

  1. Pingali Venkayya was a freedom fighter and the designer of the Indian National Tricolour who went on to become synonymous with the spirit of free and independent India.
  2. Venkayya earlier served as a soldier in the British Army in South Africa during the Anglo Boer war in Africa.
  3. A firm believer in Gandhian principles and an ardent nationalist, Venkayya met the Mahatma during the war.
  4. Between 1918 and 1921, Venkayya raised the issue of having an own flag in every session of the Congress. Back then, he was working as a lecturer in the Andhra National College in Machilipatnam.
  5. He met the Mahatma once again in Vijayawada and showed him his publication with the various designs of the flag.
  6. Acknowledging the need for a national flag, Gandhi then asked Venkayya to design a fresh one at the national congress meeting in 1921.
  7. Initially, Venkayya came up with saffron and green colours, but it later evolved with a spinning wheel at the centre and a third colour-white.
  8. The flag was officially adopted by the Indian National Congress in 1931.
Jul, 26, 2018

[op-ed snap] India’s Magna Carta


Mains Paper 1: Freedom Struggle| Various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  100th year of Montford Reform , GoI Act 1919, Rowlatt Act.

Mains level:  Role of Montford Reforms in forming a responsible government in India



This month marks the 100th year of the publication of the ‘Report on Indian Constitutional Reforms’, commonly known as the Montagu-Chelmsford Report (MCR).

Montague-Chelmsford Reforms 

  1. Edwin Montagu, then Secretary of State for India, had advocated for increased participation of Indians in the British Indian administration and had begun consultations nearly a year earlier.
  2. After many meetings with Indian representatives, Montagu and the then Governor-General, Lord Chelmsford, published the MCR on July 8, 1918.
  3. It drew up a report, with the help of Bhupendra Nath Bose, Lord Donoghmore, William Duke and Charles Roberts.

Created background for Government of India Act 1919

  1. The important features of this act were as follows:
  • The Central Legislative Council was now to consist of two houses- The Imperial Legislative and The Council of States.
  • The provinces were to follow the Dual Government System or
  1. Accordingly, the Rights of the Central and Provincial Governments were divided in clear-cut terms.
  2. The central list included rights over defence, foreign affairs, telegraphs, railways, postal, foreign trade etc.
  3. The provincial list dealt with the affairs like health, sanitation, education, public work, irrigation, jail, police, justice etc.
  4. The powers which were not included in the state list vested in the hands of the Centre.
  5. In case of any conflict between the ‘reserved’ and ‘unreserved’ powers of the State (the former included finance, police, revenue, publication of books, etc. and the latter included health, sanitation, local-self government etc.), the Governor had its final say.
  6. In 1921, the “Diarchy” was installed in Bengal, Madras, Bombay, United Provinces, M.P., Punjab, Bihar, Orissa and Assam and in 1932; it was extended to the North-West Frontier Province.


  1. The MCR stands out for proposing some of the most radical administrative changes for giving provincial legislatures the mantle of self-governance.
  2. The report recommended that the Provinces are the domain in which the earlier steps towards the progressive realisation of responsible government should be taken.
  3. Another one of the most far-reaching objectives of the report was to elucidate the principle of accountable governance by directing that the “Government of India must remain wholly responsible to Parliament.

Reception in India

  1. Many Indians had fought with the British in First World War and they expected much greater concessions. Congress and the league had recently come together demanding for self-rule.
  2. The 1919 reforms did not satisfy political demands in India. The British repressed opposition, and restrictions on the press and on movement were re-enacted through the Rowlatt Acts introduced in 1919.
  3. The act allowed certain political cases to be tried without juries and permitted internment of suspects without trial.
  4. These measures were rammed through the Legislative Council with the unanimous opposition of the Indian members. Several members of the council including Jinnah resigned in protest.
  5. These measures were widely seen throughout India of the betrayal of strong support given by the population for the British war effort.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

  1. Gandhi launched a nationwide protest against the Rowlatt Acts with the strongest level of protest in the Punjab.
  2. The situation worsened in Amritsar in April 1919, when General Dyer ordered his troops to open fire on demonstrators hemmed into a tight square, resulting in the deaths of 379 civilians.
  3. Montagu ordered an inquiry into the events at Amritsar by Lord Hunter.
  4. The Hunter Inquiry recommended that General Dyer, who commanded the troops, be dismissed, leading to Dyer’s sacking.
  5. The Amritsar massacre further inflamed Indian nationalist sentiment ending the initial response of reluctant co-operation.
  6. At the Indian National Congress annual session in September 1920, delegates supported Gandhi’s proposal of swaraj or self-rule – preferably within the British Empire or out of it if necessary.
  7. The proposal was to be implemented through a policy of non-cooperation with British rule meaning that Congress did not field candidates in the first elections held under the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms in 1921.

Paving way for the 1935 Act

  1. The Montagu-Chelmsford report stated that there should be a review after 10 years.
  2. Sir John Simon headed the committee (Simon Commission) responsible for the review which recommended further constitutional change.
  3. Three round table conferences were held in London in 1930, 1931 and 1932 with representation of the major interests. Mahatma Gandhi attended the 1931 round table after negotiations with the British Government.
  4. The major disagreement between the Indian National Congress and the British was separate electorates for each community which Congress opposed but which were retained in Ramsay MacDonald’s Communal Award.
  5. A new Government of India Act 1935 was passed continuing the move towards self-government first made in the Montagu-Chelmsford Report

Magna Carta of Modern India

  1. The MCR went on to become the basis for the Government of India Act, 1919 and 1935, and, ultimately, the Constitution.
  2. The key principles of responsible government, self-governance and federal structure grew out of these reforms.
  3. The MCR on Indian constitutional reforms along with the Montagu Declaration are, thus, worthy claimants of the title of the Magna Carta of Modern India.
Jul, 04, 2018

[pib] Behdienkhlam Festival, Meghalaya


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of Behdienkhlam Festival

Mains level: Not Much 


The famous 4-day Meghalaya Annual Cultural Festival, “Behdienkhlam”, held every year at the small peripheral town of Jowai, Meghalaya.

Behdienkhlam Festival

  1. Behdienkhlam Festival is the most celebrated religious festival among the Pnars Tribals. It is popular at Jowai the District headquarters of Jaintia Hills District, Meghalaya.
  2. “Khlam” means plague or pestilence’and “beh dien” means to drive away with sticks.
  3. The festival is also known as the festival for chasing away the Demon of Cholera.
  4. It is celebrated mid-July every year after the sowing is over.
  5. The festival reaches its conclusion with the Dad-lawakor ceremony in which groups of men jostle for the possession of a wooden ball, a game which is remotely similar to football.
  6. The festival ends with a final salutation to the divine powers when the women of the tribe offer sacrificial food to their almighty.
Jul, 03, 2018

A 216-foot-tall celebration of Ramanuja


Mains Paper 1: Arts and Culture| Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of Ramanujacharya’s philosophy

Mains level:  Bhakti Movement and Contribution of Ramanujacharya


Millennium Celebration of Ramanujacharya

  1. The world’s second tallest statue of a seated figure, at 216 feet of Bhakti saint Ramanujacharya is to be inaugurated in Hyderabad, named as “Statue of Equality”
  2. Currently, the Great Buddha of Thailand is the tallest statue, at 302-feet.
  3. Once the Ramanujacharya statue is unveiled, it will become the second tallest, a distinction now held by the Guanyin figure on Mount Xiqiao in China’s Guangdong region, at 203 feet.


Ramanuja (1017–1137 AD)

  1. Rāmānuja’s philosophical foundation was qualified monism and is called Vishishtadvaita in the Hindu tradition.
  2. His ideas are one of three subschools in Vedānta, the other two are known as Ādi Shankara’s Advaita (absolute monism) and Madhvāchārya’s Dvaita (dualism)
  3. Important writings include:
  • Vedārthasangraha (literally, “Summary of the Vedas meaning”),
  • Sri Bhāshya (a review and commentary on the Brahma Sutras),
  • Bhagavad Gita Bhāshya (a review and commentary on the Bhagavad Gita), and
  • the minor works titled Vedāntapida, Vedāntasāra, Gadya Trayam (which is a compilation of three texts called the Saranāgati Gadyam, Sriranga Gadyam and the Srivaikunta Gadyam), and Nitya Grantham.
Jun, 29, 2018

[pib] 500th death anniversary of the great saint and poet, Kabir


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Philosophy of Kabir and Kabir Panth

Mains level: Role of Kabir and various other saints during Bhakti Movement.


Sant Kabir

  1. Kabir was a 15th-century Indian mystic poet and saint, whose writings influenced Hinduism’s Bhakti movement and his verses are found in Sikhism’s scripture Guru Granth Sahib.
  2. His early life was in a Muslim family, but he was strongly influenced by his teacher, the Hindu bhakti leader Ramananda.
  3. Kabir is known for being critical of both Hinduism and Islam, stating that the former was misguided by the Vedas, and questioning their meaningless rites of initiation such as the sacred thread and circumcision respectively.
  4. Kabir suggested that True God is with the person who is on the path of righteousness, considered all creatures on earth as his own self, and who is passively detached from the affairs of the world.
  5. Kabir’s legacy survives and continues through the Kabir Panth (“Path of Kabir”), a religious community that recognizes him as its founder and its members are known as Kabir panthis.
  6. Kabir’s poetry is very famous in popular culture as ‘Dohas’.
Jun, 25, 2018

Century not out, Jamiat still bats for an India with a composite culture


Mains Paper 1: Indian Society | Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Khilafat Movement, Deoband Movement

Mains level: The newscard highlights the contribution of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind’s in maintaining the composite culture of India


Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind marks 100 years since inception

  1. A century ago, a Muslim organization was set up to pursue two broad goals: freedom for India and the restoration of the Muslim Caliphate after Turkey’s defeat in the First World War.
  2. Cut to the present, when the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind is observing its 100th anniversary, and the organisation has emerged as a voice for Muslim causes in independent India.

Messenger of Composite Nationalism

  1. It famously espoused a composite nationalism for India, opposed the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan and took part in the freedom struggle.
  2. The Jamiat’s most notable contributions included a critique of the two-nation theory in the 1930s and 1940s.
  3. In 1938, when the idea of a separate homeland for Muslims had already been conceived, came a landmark book by Deobandi Muslim scholar Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani, who was a leading light of the Jamiat.
  4. It argued that the Indian nation could not be based on religion, and that India was a single nation with a composite culture.
  5. It stringently criticised the demand for Pakistan from Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League as “dangerous”.
  6. As late as 1945-46, when the Congress, too, had reconciled to Pakistan, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind never accepted the idea. This is the most notable aspect of its history.

Sustained a deep divide

  1. During the split among Indian Muslims in the 1936-1947 period, two views emerged:
  2. One, that freedom should not be linked to special rights for educated and propertied Muslims and that the community should join the anti-colonial struggle;
  3. And the other that independence and transfer of power would be dangerous unless the question of special rights of Muslims was settled.
  4. While the Muslim League veered around to the second position and drifted away from the Congress by the 1940s, the Jamiat stood with the freedom struggle.
  5. Post-independence, the Jamiat worked to inject confidence among Indian Muslims.
  6. They took up the cause of Urdu, the need to protect Muslim personal laws as “integral” to Muslim religio-cultural identity and worked to spread education among Muslims, running schools, colleges and madrasas.

But Not a Monolith

  1. The differences between the Muslim League and the Jamiat were more of a strategic character, as none of them truly transcended religion but accepted its deeper centrality to life.
  2. The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind did stand with the All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s position on the question of instant triple talaq, contending that Islamic law is necessary for Muslims.
Jun, 08, 2018

‘Birth of Satyagraha’: Sushma travels to Pietermaritzburg

Related image


Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Satyagraha principles, Gandhi’s contribution to India as well as African efforts of independence

Mains level: Relevance of Satyagraha in today’s world


Remembering the start of ‘Satyagraha’

  1. External Affairs Minister undertook a train journey on Thursday from Pentrich to Pietermaritzburg
  2. It is a railway station in South Africa where a young Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out of a “Whites-only” compartment 125 years ago

What happened to Gandhi that led to the birth of the transformational idea  

  1. On the night of June 7, 1893, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, then a young lawyer, was thrown off the train’s first class compartment at Pietermaritzburg station after he refused to give up his seat as ordered by racially prejudiced officials
  2. The incident led him to develop his Satyagraha principles of peaceful resistance and mobilize people in South Africa and in India against the discriminatory rules of the British
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