History- Important places, persons in news

History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] Who was Lachit Borphukan?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lachit Borphukan

Mains level : Not Much

The Prime Minister has paid tribute to Lachit Borphukan on Lachit Diwas.

Try this PYQ:

Q.What was the immediate cause for Ahmad Shah Abdali to invade and fight the Third Battle of Panipat:

(a) He wanted to avenge the expulsion by Marathas of his viceroy Timur Shah from Lahore

(b) The frustrated governor of Jullundhar Adina Beg khan invited him to invade Punjab

(c) He wanted to punish Mughal administration for non-payment of the revenues of the Chahar Mahal (Gujrat Aurangabad, Sialkot and Pasrur)

(d) He wanted to annex all the fertile plains of Punjab upto borders of Delhi to his kingdom

Who was Lachit Borphukan?

  • The year was 1671 and the decisive Battle of Saraighat was fought on the raging waters of the Brahmaputra.
  • On one side was Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s army headed by Ram Singh of Amer (Jaipur) and on the other was the Ahom General Lachit Borphukan.
  • He was a commander in the Ahom kingdom, located in present-day Assam.
  • Ram Singh failed to make any advance against the Assamese army during the first phase of the war.
  • Lachit Borphukan emerged victorious in the war and the Mughals were forced to retreat from Guwahati.

Lachit Diwas

  • On 24 November each year, Lachit Divas is celebrated statewide in Assam to commemorate the heroism of Lachit Borphukan.
  • On this day, Borphukan has defeated the Mughal army on the banks of the Brahmaputra in the Battle of Saraighat in 1671.
  • The best passing out cadet of National Defence Academy has conferred the Lachit gold medal every year since 1999 commemorating his valour.

History- Important places, persons in news

[pib]  Person in news: Guru Teg Bahadur


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Guru Teg Bahadur

Mains level : NA

The President of India’s has delivered a special message on the eve of ‘Martyrdom Day’ of Guru Teg Bahadur.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following Bhakti Saints:

  1. Dadu Dayal
  2. Guru Nanak
  3. Tyagaraja

Who among the above was/were preaching when the Lodi dynasty fell and Babur took over?

(a) 1 and 3

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3

(d) 1 and 2

Guru Teg Bahadur (1621-1675)

  • Guru Teg Bahadur was the ninth of ten Gurus of the Sikh religion.
  • One hundred and fifteen of his hymns are in Guru Granth Sahib.
  • He stood up for the rights of Kashmiri Pandits who approached him against the imposition jizya tax.
  • He was publicly killed in 1675 on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi for refusing to convert.
  • In the words of Noel King of the University of California, “Guru Teg Bahadur’s martyrdom was the first-ever martyrdom for human rights in the world.
  • He is fondly remembered as ‘Hind di Chaadar’.

History- Important places, persons in news

Punjab Connection of the Irish freedom movement


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Irish mutiny in India

Mains level : Decolonization (World History)

Ireland is commemorating 100 years of the mutiny by a British Army battalion stationed in Jalandhar and Solan in Punjab in support of the Irish freedom movement.

Try this PYQ:

Q.With reference to the Indian freedom struggle, consider the following events:

  1. Mutiny in Royal Indian Navy
  2. Quit India Movement launched
  3. Second Round Table Conference

What is the correct chronological sequence of the above events?

(a) 1-2-3

(b) 2-1-3

(c) 3-2-1

(d) 3-1-2

Irish mutiny in India

  • The Connaught Rangers were raised during the British Army reforms of 1881.
  • A British Army battalion belonging to the Connaught Rangers was the one in which Irish soldiers mutinied in Jalandhar and Solan in Punjab.
  • Solan now lies in Himachal Pradesh but in 1920 it was part of Punjab. The Ist Battalion of the Connaught Rangers was stationed in Jalandhar since January 1920 after it had taken part in the First World War.

Why did the mutiny take place?

  • The troops were protesting against the behaviour of the ‘Black and Tans’ during the Irish War of Independence (1919-22).
  • The Black and Tan were members of the Irish constabulary which had been recruited from Great Britain and mostly comprised demobilized soldiers who had fought in the First World War.
  • The Irish soldiers felt that they must rise in solidarity with their compatriots back in Ireland and hence in June and July 1920 some of the regiment’s men mutinied.
  • Some of the mutinied soldiers were later put through a court-martial.

Who were the Black and Tans?

  • They were constables recruited into the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) as reinforcements during the Irish War of Independence.
  • Recruitment began in Great Britain in January 1920 and about 10,000 men enlisted during the conflict.
  • The vast majority were unemployed former soldiers from Great Britain who fought in the First World War, although some were from Ireland.

History- Important places, persons in news

Who was Maharani Jindan Kaur?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Maharani Jindan Kaur, Anglo-Sikh Wars

Mains level : Not Much

Maharani Jindan Kaur, the last wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, is in news for the auction of some of her jewellery in London.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following Bhakti Saints:

  1. Dadu Dayal
  2. Guru Nanak
  3. Tyagaraja

Who among the above was/were preaching when the Lodi dynasty fell and Babur took over?

(a) 1 and 3

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3

(d) 1 and 2

Who was Rani Jindan (1817-1863)?

  • She was the youngest wife of Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh empire, whose boundaries stretched from Kabul to Kashmir and the borders of Delhi.
  • She was also the mother of Duleep Singh, the last ruler of the empire, who was raised by the British.
  • Duleep Singh was five years old when he was placed on the throne in 1843 after the death of two heirs to Ranjit Singh. Since he was just a child, Maharani Jindan was made the regent.
  • Not a rubber stamp, she took an active interest in running the kingdom, introducing changes in the revenue system.

Anglo-Sikh War and Jindan

  • The British declared war on the Sikh empire in December 1845. After their victory in the first Anglo-Sikh war, they retained Duleep Singh as the ruler but imprisoned Jind Kaur.
  • She escaped and arrived at Kathmandu on April 29, 1849, where she was given asylum by Jung Bahadur, the prime minister.
  • She was given a house on the banks of river Bhagmati. She stayed in Nepal till 1860, where she continued to reach out to rebels in Punjab and Jammu-Kashmir.

History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] Architectural Heritage of Bundi


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bundi architecture

Mains level : Not Much

A recent episode of the Ministry of Tourism’s Dekho Apna Desh Webinar series has focused on the architectural heritage of Bundi, Rajasthan.

Try this PYQ:

Q.With reference to Dhrupad, one of the major traditions of India that has been kept alive for centuries, which of the following statements are correct?

  1. Dhrupad originated and developed in the Rajput kingdoms during the Mughal period.
  2. Dhrupad is primarily a piece of devotional and spiritual music.
  3. Dhrupad Alap uses Sanskrit syllables from Mantras.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1, 2 and 3

(d) None of the above

About Bundi

  • Bundi erstwhile capital of Hada Rajput province known as Hadauti located in south-eastern Rajasthan is one such place.
  • Bundi is also known as City of step walls, blue city and also as Chotti Kashi.
  • In ancient times, the area around Bundi was apparently inhabited by various local tribes, of which the Parihar Tribes, Meena was prominent.
  • Later the region was governed by Rao Deva, who took over Bundi from Jaita Meena in 1242, renaming the surrounding area as Haravati or Haroti.
  • For the next two centuries, the Hadas of Bundi were the vassals of the Sisodias of Mewar and ruled by the title of Rao until 1569, after Emperor Akbar.

Important architecture

  • The City of Bundi grew outwards Taragarh hill. A small habitat developed at the foothills of the fort itself.
  • The location of the royal palace was on a steep slope overlooking the valley below, providing a view of the vast surrounding hinterland.
  • Garh Mahal became the focus and an imposing landmark on the skyline of Bundi was visible from the valley below. In the next 200 years, the entire cluster was built.
  • The best example of medieval Indian city exhibiting water harvesting methods adopted at settlement level as well as the finest examples of water architecture.
  • Location of Baoris and Kunds outside the walled city was also influenced by social considerations as access to baoris and kunds were located within the walled city was controlled.

Architectural heritage of Bundi can be classified as:

1) Garh (Fort): Taragarh

2) Garh Mahal (Royal Palace)

  • Bhoj Mahal
  • Chattar Mahal
  • Ummed Mahal

3) Baori (Step well)

  • Khoj Darwaja ki Baori
  • Bhawaldi Baori

4) Kund (Stepped tank)

  • Dhabhai ji ka Kund
  • Nagar Kund & Sagar Kund
  • Rani Kund

5) Sagar mahal (Lake Palace)

  • Moti Mahal
  • Sukh Mahal
  • Shikar Burj

History- Important places, persons in news

‘Pagri Sambhal Jatta’ Movement


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ajit Singh , Pagri Sambhal Movement

Mains level : Peasants movements in colonial India

Sardar Ajit Singh Sandhu,  the brain behind the ‘Pagri Sambhal Jatta’ movement is now being remembered in the ongoing agrarian resentments in Punjab.

Try this PYQ:

Q.What was the immediate cause for the launch of the Swadeshi movement?

(a) The partition of Bengal done by Lord Curzon.

(b) A sentence of 18 months rigorous imprisonment imposed on Lokmanya Tilak.

(c) The arrest and deportation of Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh; and passing of the Punjab Colonization Bill.

(d) Death sentence pronounced on the Chapekar brothers.

‘Pagri Sambhal Jatta’ Movement

  • In 1879, the British constructed the Upper Bari Doab canal to draw water from the Chenab river and take it to Lyallpur (now in Pakistan and renamed Faisalabad) to set up settlements in uninhabited areas.
  • Promising to allot free land with several amenities, the government persuaded peasants and ex-servicemen from Jalandhar, Amritsar and Hoshiarpur to settle there.
  • In 1907, in Lyallpur, Ajit Singh Sandhu also Bhagat Singh’s uncle headed the movement that articulated this discontent.
  • The catchy slogan, Pagdi Sambhal Jatta, the name of the movement, was inspired by the song by Banke Lal, the editor of the Jang Sayal newspaper.
  • The agitated protestors ransacked government buildings, post offices, banks, overturning telephone poles and pulling down telephone wires.

Who was Ajit Singh?

  • He was a revolutionary and a nationalist during the time of British rule in India.
  • With compatriots, he organised agitation by Punjabi peasants against anti-farmer laws known as the Punjab Colonization Act (Amendment) 1906 and administrative orders increasing water rate charges.
  • He was an early protester in the Punjab region of India who challenged British rule and openly criticized the Indian colonial government.
  • In May 1907, with Lala Lajpat Rai, he was exiled to Mandalay in Burma.
  • Due to great public pressure and apprehension of unrest in the Indian Army, the bills of exile were withdrawn and both men were released in November 1907.

History- Important places, persons in news

Personality in news: Shyamji Krishna Varma


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various social reformers

Mains level : NA

PM has paid rich tributes to revolutionary freedom fighter Shyamji Krishna Varma on his birth anniversary.

Try this PYQ:

Q. The Ghadr (Ghadar) was a –

(a) Revolutionary association of Indians with headquarters at San Francisco.

(b) Nationalist organization operating from Singapore

(c) Militant organization with headquarters at Berlin

(d) Communist movement for India’s freedom with head-quarters at Tashkent

About Shyamji Krishna Varma

  • SK Varma (1857–1930) was an Indian revolutionary fighter, a patriot, lawyer and journalist who founded the Indian Home Rule Society, India House and The Indian Sociologist in London.
  • He was a noted scholar in Sanskrit and other Indian languages.
  • He pursued a brief legal career in India and served as the Divan of a number of Indian princely states in India.
  • He had, however, differences with Crown authority, was dismissed following a supposed conspiracy of local British officials at Junagadh and chose to return to England.
  • An admirer of Dayanand Saraswati’s approach of cultural nationalism, and of Herbert Spencer, Krishna Varma believed in Spencer’s dictum: “Resistance to aggression is not simply justified, but imperative”.

History- Important places, persons in news

Who was Kanaklata Barua ?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kanaklata Barua

Mains level : Role of women in Indian National Movement

A Fast Patrol Vessel (FPV) named ICGS Kanaklata Barua was commissioned in the Indian Coast Guard on Wednesday, in Kolkata. It is named after a teenage freedom fighter who was shot dead in Assam during the Quit India Movement.

Who was Kanaklata Barua ?

  • One of the youngest martyrs of the Quit India Movement, Kanaklata Barua has iconic status in Assam. Barua.
  • Then 17, led the Mukti Bahini, a procession of freedom fighters to unfurl the Tricolour at Gohpur police station on September 20, 1942. When police did not let them move forward, an altercation led to firing, killing Barua at the head of the procession.
  • She had joined the Mrityu Bahini [a kind of a suicide squad] just two days before the incident. The squad strictly admitted members aged 18 and above but Kanaklata was an exception. She wanted to lead the procession and after much persuasion she was allowed to.
  •  Even as Barua fell to bullets, she did not let go of the flag. She did not want it to touch the ground. Another woman volunteer behind her — Mukunda Kakoty — came and held the flag, and she, too, was shot.

    How important is her legacy ?

  •  1940’s was a time where you saw a lot of women coming to the fore, leading processions, patriotic fervour was at its peak — and Kanaklata was a product of this time.
  • There are schools named after her, there are two statues, there is a ship. While we see her as an icon now, people in her village hated her then — she was a rebel, who questioned patriarchy.

History- Important places, persons in news

Eden Gardens: India’s oldest cricketing ground


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Eden Gardens

Mains level : NA

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in TH.

UPSC may ask a question like this:

Q. In which Governor-General/Viceroy’s term was the famous cricketing ground ‘Eden Gardens’ was built?

Eden Gardens

  • The first cricket club outside Britain was the Calcutta Cricket Club founded in 1792, and the first match was played 12 years later between the Etonians, senior civil servants and other company officials.
  • In 1825 the club got a plot of land on the ground between Government House and Fort William to be used as a cricket ground.
  • In 1841, the club was permitted to enclose the ground with a fence. But the Army at Fort William described the club as an “encroacher”.
  • Cricket Club of Calcutta authorities then looked for an alternative ground and at ₹1,000, found a new one, fenced it and made it playable.
  • In 1864, the land was laid out for a ground for Calcutta Cricket Club in the extended part of Eden Gardens.

Deriving its name

  • Eden Gardens made its first appearance during the time of Governor-General Lord Auckland (1836-42).
  • According to the achieves, a local landlord gifted this land to Lord Auckland and his sisters Emily Eden and Fanny Eden helped him save his third daughter from a deadly disease.

History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] Who was Pritilata Waddedar?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pritilata Waddedar

Mains level : Not Much

The government of Bangladesh is financing a film on the life of revolutionary freedom fighter Pritilata Waddedar.

Try this PYQ:

Q.The Ghadr (Ghadar) was a –

(a) Revolutionary association of Indians with headquarters at San Francisco.

(b) Nationalist organization operating from Singapore

(c) Militant organization with headquarters at Berlin

(d) Communist movement for Pritilata Waddedar

Pritilata Waddedar (1911-1932)

  • She was a Bengali revolutionary nationalist from the Indian subcontinent who was influential in the Indian independence movement.
  • After completing her education in Chittagong and Dhaka, she attended Bethune College in Kolkata.
  • She graduated in philosophy with distinction and became a school teacher.
  • Pritilata joined a revolutionary group headed by Surya Sen. She is known for leading fifteen revolutionaries in the 1932 armed attack on the Pahartali European Club, during which one person was killed and eleven injured.
  • The revolutionaries torched the club and were later caught by the British police. To avoid arrest, Pritilata consumed cyanide and died.

History- Important places, persons in news

Who was Subramania Bharatiyar?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Subramania Bharati and his works

Mains level : Not Much

This newscard is an excerpt from an article originally published in TH.

Try this question from CSP 2016:

Q.A recent movie titled The Man Who Knew Infinity is based on the biography of-

(a) S. Ramanujan
(b) S. Chandrasekhar
(c) S. N. Bose
(d) C. V. Raman

Subramania Bharati

  • Bharati was a Tamil writer, poet, journalist, Indian independence activist, social reformer and polyglot.
  • Popularly known as “Mahakavi Bharathi”, he was a pioneer of modern Tamil poetry and is considered one of the greatest Tamil literary figures of all time.
  • His numerous works included fiery songs kindling patriotism during the Indian Independence movement.

Literary works

  • As a working journalist, Bharati necessarily employed prose to communicate, and his writings in Swadesamitran and India made an important contribution to Tamil political vocabulary.
  • He wrote stories, commentaries, and was also the pioneer of column writing in Tamil.
  • Active participation in the day-to-day politics of the nationalist movement notwithstanding, Bharati never lost sight of the future, the dream of how a free India should look like.
  • Aspects of this dream form part of his fantasy story, Gnanaratham (The Chariot of Wisdom), written when he was still in his late 20s.

History- Important places, persons in news

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


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : “Dictionary of Martyrs” Project

Mains level : India's freedom struggle

Four martyrs of Communist movement of Kerala will be added to the ‘Dictionary of Martyrs India’s Freedom Struggle (1857-1947)’, if an earlier review report to the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR) is accepted.

Communist revolutionaries of Kerala

  • The four who may make it to the list include Aboobacker and Chirukandan of Kayyur, “who walked to the gallows shouting Inquilab Zindabad and Communist Party Zindabad” and “died as brave communists,” as mentioned in the fifth volume of the dictionary.
  • Abu of Mambram, a Communist and active partner in the nationalist and anti-imperialist movements, and Chattukutty, an active Communist cadre involved in the agitations for price control, wage hike, and relief to peasants, who were killed in the Tellichery police firing on September 15, 1940, would also qualify.
  • The report had suggested the deletion of the martyrs of Punnapra-Vayalar, Karivelloor, and Kavumbayi agitations as they were rioters against the interim government headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.

Back2Basics: “Dictionary of Martyrs” Project

  • The project for the 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 the 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 the 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.

History- Important places, persons in news

US Presidents who have won Nobel Peace Prize


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Persons mentioned in the news, Nobel Prize

Mains level : Not Much

A Norwegian legislator has nominated US President Donald Trump for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts towards furthering peace in the Middle East.

Take a look at the Presidents and Vice-Presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize:

These trivial facts are too unlikely to be asked in the CS prelims, but may hold importance for CAPF and other exams.

 (1) Theodore Roosevelt (1906)

  • Roosevelt, the 26th occupant of the White House (1901-09), was not only the first American president but also the world’s first statesman to win the honour, five years after the Peace Prize was instituted in 1901.
  • He was given the prize for negotiating peace between imperial Russia and Japan after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05.
  • He was also praised for his efforts in resolving a dispute between the US and Mexico through arbitration, and for extending the use of arbitration as a means for settling international disputes.
  • At home, Roosevelt launched radical social and economic reform policies and earned a reputation as a “trust buster” for breaking up monopolies.

(2) Woodrow Wilson (1919)

  • Wilson (1913-21) was given the award for his efforts in ending World War I, and for being the key architect of the League of Nations– born out of his famous ‘Fourteen Points’.
  • Although the League faltered in a few years, it served as a blueprint for the United Nations after World War II.
  • At home, Wilson saw the reduction of import duties, started America’s central bank and a national business oversight body, and strengthened anti-monopoly and labour laws.
  • In his second term, the US passed its 19th constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.

(3) Jimmy Carter (2002)

  • The 39th President was awarded the Peace Prize “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development”.
  • During his presidency (1977-81), Carter earned praise for his role in bringing about a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.
  • His later years were more fraught, including foreign policy failures such as the conflict with Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, culminating in him losing re-election to the conservative Ronald Reagan in 1980.
  • Post his presidency, Carter pursued peace and mediation efforts independently and co-founded the Carter Center, a non-profit that chiefly works to advance human rights.

(4) Barack Obama (2009)

  • The country’s 44th President (2009-2017) was given the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”.
  • Cited among Obama’s achievements were his promotion of nuclear non-proliferation, and bringing a “new climate” in international relations.
  • Obama donated the full prize money – 10 million Swedish kronor (around $1.4 million) – to charity.

(5) Al Gore (1993-2001)

  • Apart from the four Presidents, one Vice President– Al Gore (1993-2001) – has been given the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • He shared the honour in 2007 with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for their joint efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change.

History- Important places, persons in news

Centenary of Aligarh Muslim University


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AMU, Sir Saiyad Ahmad Khan

Mains level : Not Much

In its centenary year, Aligarh Muslim University is planning to bury a time capsule, containing its history and achievements for posterity.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following:

  1. Calcutta Unitarian Committee
  2. Tabernacle of New Dispensation
  3. Indian Reforms Association

Keshab Chandra Sen is associated with the establishment of which of the above?

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Aligarh Muslim University

  • AMU is a public central university in Aligarh, India, which was originally established by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan as the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875.
  • Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College became Aligarh Muslim University in 1920, following the Aligarh Muslim University Act.
  • It has three off-campus centres in Malappuram (Kerala), AMU Murshidabad centre (West Bengal), and Kishanganj Centre (Bihar).

Its establishment

  • The university was established as the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental (MAO) College in 1875 by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, starting functioning on 24 May 1875.
  • The movement associated with Syed Ahmad Khan and the college came to be known as the Aligarh Movement, which pushed to realize the need for establishing a modern education system for the Indian Muslim populace.
  • He considered competence in English and Western sciences necessary skills for maintaining Muslims’ political influence.
  • Khan’s vision for the college was based on his visit to Oxford University and Cambridge University, and he wanted to establish an education system similar to the British model.

About Syed Ahmad Khan

  • He was an Islamic pragmatist, reformer, and philosopher of nineteenth-century British India.
  • Born into a family with strong debts to the Mughal court, Ahmed studied the Quran and Sciences within the court.
  • He was awarded an honorary LLD from the University of Edinburgh in 1889.
  • In 1838, Syed Ahmed entered the service of East India Company and went on to become a judge at a Small Causes Court in 1867, retiring from 1876.
  • During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, he remained loyal to the British Raj and was noted for his actions in saving European lives.
  • In 1878, he was nominated to the Viceroy’s Legislative Council.
  • He supported the efforts of Indian political leaders Surendranath Banerjee and Dadabhai Naoroji to obtain representation for Indians in the government and civil services.

History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] Heritage of Punjab


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Heritage of Punjab

Mains level : Not Much

The Ministry of Tourism’s DekhoApnaDesh Webinar series titled “Punjab- A historic perspective” has recently gone live.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Rivers that passes through Himachal Pradesh are: (CSP 2012)

(a) Beas and Chenab only

(b) Beas and Ravi only

(c) Chenab, Ravi, and Satluj only

(d) Beas, Chenab, Ravi, Satluj, and Yamuna

Heritage of Punjab

  • Punjab means ‘the land of Five Waters’ referring to the rivers Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas.
  • Much of the Frontier was occupied by Maharaja Ranjit Singh also known as Sher-e-Punjab in the early 19th century and then taken over by the East India Company when it annexed Punjab in 1849.
  • The state is divided into three parts- Majha, Doaba and Malwa.
  • It’s many festivals–Teej, Lohri, Basant Panchami, Baisakhi and Hola Mahalla to name some are celebrations that mirror the farming ethos.
  • Historically, Punjab has played host to a number of ethnicities, including the Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Afghans and Mongols, thus bestowed with a rich tangible heritage.
  • The southeastern city of Punjab, Patiala was once a princely state established under Baba Ala Singh, a Jat Sikh chieftain. He laid the foundation of the fort and now, is located in the region around Qila Mubarak or the Fortunate Castle.
  • Important tourist attractions are Kali Temple, Baradari Garden, Sheesh Mahal, Gurudwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib, Qila Mubarak complex etc.

Holy shrines

  • The most sacred of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple, is a major pilgrimage destination for devotees from around the world, as well as, an ever-increasing popular tourist attraction.
  • Construction of the Amrit Sarovar (pool of nectar) was initiated by Guru Amar Das, the third Guru, in 1570 and was completed by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Guru.
  • His successor, Guru Arjan Dev began work on the building after inviting Mian Mir, the Sufi saint, to lay its foundation stone in 1588.
  • Three years later, the Harimandar Sahib, or Darbar Sahib got completed.
  • In step with Sikhism’s basic tenet of universal brotherhood and all-inclusive ethos, the Golden Temple can be accessed from all directions.

Legend of Banda Bahadur

  • The city of Fatehgarh Sahib is of special significance to Sikhs. The word “Fatehgarh”, means “Town of Victory”.
  • It is so-called because, in 1710, Sikhs under the leadership of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur conquered the area and destroyed the Mughal fort.
  • Banda Bahadur announced the establishment of the Sikh rule in the city and an end to the tyranny of the Mughal rule which had spread terror and injustice.

History- Important places, persons in news

In news: Malabar Rebellion


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Malabar Rebellion

Mains level : Not Much

A report submitted to the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) in 2016 has termed the Malabar Rebellion leaders as ‘rioters’.

Try this question from CSP 2015:

Q. Which amongst the following provided a common factor for a tribal insurrection in India in the 19th century?

(a) Introduction of a new system of land revenue and taxation- of tribal products

(b) Influence of foreign religious missionaries in tribal areas

(c) Rise of a large number of money lenders, traders and revenue farmers as middlemen in tribal areas

(d) The complete disruption of the old agrarian order of the tribal communities

What is the Malabar Rebellion?

  • The Malabar Rebellion in 1921 started as resistance against the British colonial rule and the feudal system in southern Malabar but ended in communal violence between Hindus and Muslims.
  • There were a series of clashes between Mappila peasantry and their landlords, supported by the British, throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • It began as a reaction against a heavy-handed crackdown on the Khilafat Movement, a campaign in defence of the Ottoman Caliphate by the British authorities in the Eranad and Valluvanad taluks of Malabar.
  • The Mappilas attacked and took control of police stations, British government offices, courts and government treasuries.

Why is it contentious?

  • It largely took the shape of guerrilla-type attacks on janmis (feudal landlords, who were mostly upper-caste Hindus) and the police and troops.
  • Mappilas had been among the victims of oppressive agrarian relations protected by the British.
  • But the political mobilization in the region in the aftermath of the Khilafat agitation and Gandhi’s non-cooperation struggle served as an opportunity for an extremist section to invoke a religious idiom to express their suffering.
  • There were excesses on both sides — rebels and government troops. Incidents of murder, looting and forced conversion led many to discredit the uprising as a manifestation of religious bigotry.
  • Moderate Khilafat leaders lamented that the rebellion had alienated the Hindu sympathy.

History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Noor Inayat Khan


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Noor Inayat Khan

Mains level : Not Much

World War II spy Noor Inayat Khan is now the first woman of Indian origin to be commemorated by the distinct blue London plaque.

Try this PYQ:

Q.A recent movie titled “The Man Who Knew Infinity” is based on the biography of-

(a) S. Ramanujan
(b) S. Chandrasekhar
(c) S. N. Bose
(d) C. V. Raman

Noor Inayat Khan

  • A descendant of Tipu Sultan, Noor Inayat Khan became a secret agent during the Second World War.
  • She was the first woman radio operator to be infiltrated into occupied France in 1943 and worked under the code name ‘Madeleine’.
  • Renowned for her service in the Special Operations Executive, an independent British secret service set up by Winston Churchill in 1940.
  • Noor was Britain’s first Indian Muslim war heroine in Europe and the first female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France.
  • She was killed at the Dachau concentration camp in 1944 and was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1949.

What are Blue Plaques?

  • The idea of placing commemorative plaques on historically significant buildings was first mooted in 1863.
  • The idea was to honour important people and organisations that have lived or worked in London buildings.
  • Currently, the blue plaque scheme is being run by the charity organisation, English Heritage that takes care of historic sites and buildings in England.
  • While Khan is the first woman of Indian origin to be honoured with a blue plaque, it has been erected on houses and venues associated with several Indian men including Mahatma Gandhi, Raja Ram Mohun Roy, B R Ambedkar, Sardar Patel and Swami Vivekananda among others.

History- Important places, persons in news

Who was Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dr Kotnis and his legacy

Mains level : NA

A bronze statue of Indian doctor Dwarkanath Kotnis is set to be unveiled in China.

Try this PYQ:

Q.A recent movie titled The Man Who Knew Infinity is based on the biography of

(a) S. Ramanujan
(b) S. Chandrasekhar
(c) S. N. Bose
(d) C. V. Raman

Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis

  • He is revered in China for his contributions during the Chinese revolution headed by its founder Mao Zedong and World War II.
  • He hailed from Sholapur in Maharashtra came to China in 1938 as part of a five-member team of doctors sent by the Indian National Congress to help the Chinese during World War II.
  • He joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1942 and died the same year at the age of 32.
  • Kotnis’ medical assistance during the difficult days of the Chinese revolution was praised by Chinese leader Mao Zedong.
  • His statues and memorials were also set in some of the Chinese cities in recognition of his services.

A revered personality in China

  • Late Chinese leader Mao Zedong was deeply affected by his death.
  • Mao wrote in his eulogy that “the army has lost a helping hand; the nation has lost a friend. Let us always bear in mind his internationalist spirit”.
  • Kotnis is remembered not only as a symbol inspiring medical students to work hard, but also an eternal bond between the people of China and India.

History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] Cultural heritage of Hyderabad


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various cultural sites in Hyderabad

Mains level : Cultural site in Hyderabad

Ministry of Tourism’s DekhoApnaDesh Webinar Series in its 50th session held a webinar on “Cultural heritage of Hyderabad”.

Note various cultural sites mentioned in the newscard. The entire DekhoApnaDesh series is a potential hotspot for the coming Prelims.

The story of Hyderabad City

  • Hyderabad is popularly known as the “City of Pearls” and the “City of Nizams”, and has been the centre of a vibrant historical legacy, ever since its inception by the Qutub Shahi dynasty.
  • The city was later conquered by Mughal Empire and finally falling in the hands of Asaf Jahi dynasty.
  • Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah established Hyderabad in 1591 to extend the capital beyond the fortified Golconda. In 1687, the city was annexed by the Mughals.
  • In 1724, Mughal governor Nizam Asaf Jah I declared his sovereignty and founded the Asaf Jahi dynasty, also known as the Nizams.
  • Hyderabad served as the imperial capital of the Asaf Jahis from 1769 to 1948.
  • As capital of the princely state of Hyderabad, the city housed the British Residency and cantonment until Indian independence in 1947.

Cultural sites of Hyderabad:

1) Golconda Fort, Hyderabad: A massive fortress whose ruins stand proudly even today displaying the glory of its rich past and some untold sagas of the city’s history. The place oozing charm is a must visit historical place in Hyderabad. Mohammed Quli understood the need of a new City and made Bhagnagar (after the name of his beloved Bhagmati) with Charminar in its centre.

2) Chowmahalla Palace: Once the seat of the Asaf Jahi Dynasty, the Chowmahalla Palace was built in Hyderabad and is located near the famous monument, Charminar and Laad Bazar. The palace is designed very intricately and holds that Nawabi Charm in itself. Palace, the seat of power of Nizams, has bagged the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Merit Award for Culture Heritage Conservation.

3) Charminar: The monument was erected when Quli Qutab Shah shifted his capital from Golconda to Hyderabad. The monument got its name from its structure as it consists of four minarets.

4) Mecca Masjid: One of the oldest and the largest mosques of India is the grandest historical places in Hyderabad was completed by Aurangzeb in 1693.The bricks used here are believed to be from Mecca, and hence the name.

5) Paigah tombs: Located in the suburbs of Pisal Banda in Hyderabad, Paigah Tombs are a group of tombs of the Paigah royal family. Although now in a derelict and dilapidated state, the tombs still boast of striking architecture and marvellously carved marble panels.

6) Salar Jung Museum: Is an art museum established in the year 1951 and located at Dar-ul-Shifa, on the southern bank of the Musi River in the city of Hyderabad. The Salar Jung family is responsible for its collection of rare art objects from all over the world. The family is one of the most illustrious families in Deccan history, five of them having been prime-ministers in the erstwhile Nizam rule of Hyderabad-Deccan.

7) Warangal Fort: This fort appears to have existed since at least the 12th century when it was the capital of the Kakatiya dynasty. The fort has four ornamental gates, known as Kakatiya Kala Thoranam, that originally formed the entrances to a now ruined great Shiva temple.

History- Important places, persons in news

Story of our National Flag


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National flag

Mains level : NA

The final design of the Indian National Flag, hoisted by PM Nehru on August 16, 1947, at Red Fort, had a history of several decades preceding independence.

Note various personalities involved in the development of our National flag. It may be no wonder to accept a personality-based question on such topics.

Story of our National Flag: A timeline

(1) Public display for first time

  • Arguably the first national flag of India is said to have been hoisted on August 7, 1906, in Kolkata at the Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park).
  • It comprised three horizontal stripes of red, yellow and green, with Vande Mataram written in the middle.
  • Believed to have been designed by freedom activists Sachindra Prasad Bose and Hemchandra Kanungo, the red stripe on the flag had symbols of the sun and a crescent moon, and the green strip had eight half-open lotuses.

(2) In Germany

  • In 1907, Madame Cama and her group of exiled revolutionaries hoisted an Indian flag in Germany in 1907 — this was the first Indian flag to be hoisted in a foreign land.

(3) During the Home Rule Movement

  • In 1917, Dr Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak adopted a new flag as part of the Home Rule Movement.
  • It had five alternate red and four green horizontal stripes, and seven stars in the saptarishi configuration.
  • A white crescent and star occupied one top corner, and the other had Union Jack.

(4) Final version by Pingali Venkayya

  • The design of the present-day Indian tricolour is largely attributed to Pingali Venkayya, an Indian freedom fighter.
  • He reportedly first met Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa during the second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), when he was posted there as part of the British Indian Army.
  • Years of research went into designing the national flag. In 1916, he even published a book with possible designs of Indian flags.
  • At the All India Congress Committee in Bezwada in 1921, Venkayya again met Gandhi and proposed a basic design of the flag, consisting of two red and green bands to symbolise the two major communities, Hindus and Muslims.

(5) During Constituent Assembly

  • On July 22, 1947, when members of the Constituent Assembly of India, the first item on the agenda was reportedly a motion by Pandit Nehru, about adopting a national flag for free India.
  • It was proposed that “the National Flag of India shall be horizontal tricolour of deep saffron (Kesari), white and dark green in equal proportion.”
  • The white band was to have a wheel in navy blue (the charkha being replaced by the chakra), which appears on the abacus of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka.

History- Important places, persons in news

How Quit India movement gave a new direction to India’s freedom struggle?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Quit India Movement

Mains level : India's freedom struggle

On August 8, 78 years ago, Mahatma Gandhi gave the call for British colonizers to “Quit India” and for the Indians to “do or die” to make this happen.

Try this PYQ:

Q.With reference to the Indian freedom struggle, consider the following events:

  1. Mutiny in Royal Indian Navy
  2. Quit India Movement launched
  3. Second Round Table Conference

What is the correct chronological sequence of the above events?(CSP 2017)

(a) 1-2-3

(b) 2-1-3

(c) 3-2-1

(d) 3-1-2

What led to the events of August 1942?

  • While factors leading to such a movement had been building up, matters came to a head with the failure of the Cripps Mission.
  • World War II was raging, and a beleaguered British needed the cooperation of their colonial subjects in India.
  • To this end, in March 1942, a mission led by Sir Stafford Cripps arrived in India to meet leaders of the Congress and the Muslim League.
  • The idea was to secure India’s whole-hearted support in the war, in return for self-governance.
  • However, despite the promise of “the earliest possible realization of self-government in India”, the offer Cripps made was of dominion status, and not freedom.

A final blow

  • The failures of the Cripps Mission made Mahatma Gandhi realize that freedom would be had only by fighting tooth and nail for it.
  • Though initially reluctant to launch a movement that could hamper Britain’s efforts to defeat Fascist forces in the World War, Congress eventually decided to launch a mass civil disobedience.
  • At the Working Committee meeting in Wardha in July 1942, it was decided the time had come for the movement to move into an active phase.

The Gowalia Tank address and Gandhiji’s arrest

  • On August 8, Gandhiji addressed the people from Mumbai’s Gowalia Tank maidan with the ‘Do or Die’ mantra.
  • By August 9, Gandhi and all other senior Congress leaders had been jailed.
  • He was kept at the Aga Khan Palace in Pune, and later in the Yerawada jail.
  • It was during this time that Kasturba Gandhi died at the Aga Khan Palace.

The slogan ‘Quit India’

  • While Gandhi gave the clarion call of Quit India, the slogan was coined by Yusuf Meherally, a socialist and trade unionist who also served as Mayor of Mumbai.
  • A few years ago, in 1928, it was Meherally who had coined the slogan “Simon Go Back”.

Outcome: A people’s movement

  • The arrest of the leaders, however, failed to deter the masses. With no one to give directions, people took the movement into their own hands.
  • In Bombay, Poona and Ahmedabad, lakhs of people clashed with the police on August 9. On August 10, protests erupted in Delhi, UP and Bihar.
  • There were strikes, demonstrations and people’s marches in defiance of prohibitory orders in Kanpur, Patna, Varanasi, and Allahabad.
  • The protests spread rapidly into smaller towns and villages.
  • Till mid-September, police stations, courts, post offices and other symbols of government authority were attacked.
  • Railway tracks were blocked, students went on strike in schools and colleges across India, and distributed illegal nationalist literature.
  • Mill and factory workers in Bombay, Ahmedabad, Poona, Ahmednagar, and Jamshedpur stayed away for weeks.
  • In some places, the protests were violent, with bridges blown up, telegraph wires cut, and railway lines taken apart.


  • The Quit India movement was violently suppressed by the British – people were shot, lathi-charged, villages burnt and enormous fines imposed.
  • In the five months up to December 1942, an estimated 60,000 people had been thrown in jail.


  • Soon after, Gandhi and almost the entire top Congress leadership was arrested and thus began a truly people-led movement in our freedom struggle.
  • Eventually dispersed violently by the British, it left behind a clear message that the British would have to leave India, and no other solution would be acceptable to its masses.

History- Important places, persons in news

Nagara Architecture of Ayodhya’s Ram Temple


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Features of the Nagara Temple Architecture

Mains level : Temple Architecture of India

The grand temple at Rama Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya will follow the Nagara style of temple architecture.

Note the various features of the Nagara and Vesara style of temple architecture from your basic references.

What is Nagara style of temple architecture?

The basic form of a Hindu temple contains the following architectural elements:

  1. Garbhagriha – the small room where the principal deity/deities of the temple reside
  2. Mandapa – the portico or hall at the entrance of the temple generally designed to house a large number of people
  3. Shikhara – the mountain like spire which can have different shapes from pyramidal to curvilinear
  4. Vahana – the mount of the main deity placed generally in line of sight from Garbhagriha
  • In this style, the temple is generally constructed on an upraised platform called Jagati.
  • Mandapas are present in front of the These are adorned with the Shikhara, the tallest one being above the Garbhagriha.
  • The shikhara over the mandapas in the pictures of the Ayodhya Ram temple can be seen having a square base, and a rectilinear outline.
  • This is called the phamsana-style shikhara. Note that the mandapa shikhara right at the entrance has an octagonal base.

Similar to Khajuraho Temple

  • There are different types of Shikhara found in Indian temples.
  • A comparison with Khajuraho Vishwanath temple, also built in Nagara style, shows the similarity between the two.
  • Note that the main shikhara of the two are remarkably similar.
  • They rise upward in a curved pyramidal fashion, ending in a horizontal fluted disc called an Amalaka topped with a Kalasha. This is called the Latina-style shikhara.

Note: This newscard is an excerpt from an original article published in Swarajya Magazine.

Back2Basics: The Ramjanmabhoomi Case

History- Important places, persons in news

William Jones and his linguistic studies


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Asiatic Society William Jones

Mains level : Linguistic study of ancient India

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in the Indian Express.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2016:

Q.Who of the following had first deciphered the edicts of Emperor Ashoka?

(a) Georg Buhier

(b) James Prinsep

(c) Max Muller

(d) William Jones

William Jones

  • William Jones was appointed as a judge on the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal,
  • In the next couple of years, Jones established himself as an authority on ancient Indian language and culture, a field of study that was hitherto untouched.
  • He is particularly known for his proposition of the existence of a relationship among European and Indo-Aryan languages, which he coined as Indo-European.
  • He is also credited for establishing the Asiatic Society of Bengal in the year 1784.

His linguistic studies

  • Jones’ was the first to suggest that Sanskrit, Greek and Latin languages had a common root and that indeed they may all be further related, in turn, to Gothic and the Celtic languages, as well as to Persian.
  • He also suggested that Sanskrit ‘was introduced to India by conquerors from other kingdoms in some very remote age’ displacing ‘the pure Hindi’ of north India
  • His claim rested on the evidence of several Sanskrit words that had similarities with Greek and Latin.

Some examples of his propositions

  • As he studied the languages further, it became clearer that apart from Greek and Latin, Sanskrit words could be found in most other European languages.
  • For instance, the Sanskrit word for ‘three’, that is ‘trayas’, is similar to the Latin ‘tres’ and the Greek ‘treis’. Similarly, the Sanskrit for ‘snake’, is ‘sarpa’, which shares a phonetic link with ‘serpens’ in Latin.
  • For instance, ‘mata’ or mother in Sanskrit, is ‘mutter’ in German. ‘Dan’ or ‘to give’ in Sanskrit is ‘donor’ in Spanish.

History- Important places, persons in news

What is Black Rain?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Black Rain

Mains level : Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings by US

Ahead of the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima, a Japanese court has recognised 84 survivors of the post-nuclear explosion “black rain” as the atomic bomb survivors. This would enable them to avail free medical benefits.

Try this question from CSP 2011:

Q.Acid rain is caused by the pollution of the environment by:

(a) Carbon dioxide and nitrogen

(b) Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide

(c) Ozone and carbon dioxide

(d) Nitrous oxide and Sulphur dioxide

What is Black Rain?

  • An estimated 69 per cent of the buildings in Hiroshima were destroyed by the atomic bomb.
  • The debris and soot from this, mixed with the radioactive fallout from the bomb, raised high into the atmosphere in the form of a mushroom cloud.
  • This material combined with the vapour in the atmosphere and came down as dark drops of liquid that have been called black rain.
  • Survivors of the black rain described it as consisting of large, greasy drops that are much heavier than normal raindrops.
  • It is full of highly radioactive material, and studies have shown that exposure to it can result in serious illnesses.

What was its effect?

  • A study conducted in the year 1945 itself showed that black rain had come down as far as 29 km away from ground zero.
  • The rain contaminated everything it came in contact with, and dead fish were reported floating in water bodies and severely ill cattle were seen lying in the fields.
  • It has caused acute radiation symptoms (ARS) in many who were exposed to it, with reports of people suffering from nausea and diarrhoea for weeks.
  • Other ARS include fever, sore throat and loss of hair. Over time, many people who were exposed to black rain have developed cancer.

History- Important places, persons in news

What is the Gandhi-King Initiative?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi in India's freedom struggle

Mains level : World History: American Civil Rights Movement

A Bill to promote Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr’s legacies has been passed in American Senate.

Practice question for mains:

Q. Discuss how the civil rights movement in America is paralleled by India’s freedom struggle under Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi-King Initiative

  • The initiative is an exchange program between India and the U.S. to study the work and legacies of Gandhiji and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
  • It will establish annual scholar and student exchange programs for Indians and Americans to study the leaders’ legacies and visit historic sites in India and the U.S.
  • The visits will be relevant to India’s freedom struggle and the U.S.’s civil rights movement.

Gandhi-King Global Academy

  • The bill also seeks to establish the Gandhi-King Global Academy, a conflict resolution initiative based on the principles of nonviolence.
  • It proposes the establishment of the United States-India Gandhi-King Development Foundation set up by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the GoI, organized under Indian law.
  • The Foundation, which has a proposed budget authorized of up to $ 30 million per year for five years through 2025.
  • It is tasked with administering grants to NGOs that work in health, pollution and climate change, education and empowerment of women.

History- Important places, persons in news

Rosalind Franklin: the unsung heroine of DNA


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : DNA/RNA

Mains level : Not Much

The famous British scientist and virologist Rosalind Franklin is remembered across the world on her birth centenary who worked to construct the double-helix structure of DNA.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2019:

DNA/RNA has been an all-time favourite of UPSC!

Q.‘RNA interference (RNAi)’ technology has gained popularity in the last few years. Why?

  1. It is used in developing gene-silencing therapies.
  2. It can be used in developing therapies for the treatment of cancer.
  3. It can be used to develop hormone replacement therapies.
  4. It can be used to produce crop plants that are resistant to viral pathogens.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 4

(b) 2 and 3

(c) 1 and 3

(d) 1 and 4 only

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)

  • She was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer whose work was central to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), viruses, coal, and graphite.
  • Although her works on coal and viruses were appreciated in her lifetime, her contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA were largely recognised posthumously.

DNA breakthrough

  • In 1952, Raymond Gosling, a graduate student at King’s College London, took a historic X-ray photograph under Franklin’s supervision.
  • Photo 51, as it is called, demonstrates the now-familiar, double-helix structure of DNA.

Why is she remembered now?

  • The world is currently gripped in a pandemic, and her pioneering research in virology provided a crucial early step in the search for cures, vaccinations and tests.
  • During the Second World War, Franklin carried out research into coal and graphite that proved important for gas-masks, the PPE of that time.
  • It is because of Franklin, her collaborators and successors, that today’s researchers are able to use tools such as DNA sequencing and X-ray crystallography to investigate viruses such as COVID-10.

Back2Basics: DNA/RNA 

  • Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and Ribonucleic acid (RNA) are perhaps the most important molecules in cell biology, responsible for the storage and reading of genetic information that underpins all life.
  • They are both linear polymers, consisting of sugars, phosphates and bases, but there are some key differences which separate the two.
  • These distinctions enable the two molecules to work together and fulfil their essential roles.
  • DNA encodes all genetic information and is the blueprint from which all biological life is created. And that’s only in the short-term.
  • In the long-term, DNA is a storage device, a biological flash drive that allows the blueprint of life to be passed between generations.
  • RNA functions as the reader that decodes this flash drive. This reading process is multi-step and there are specialized RNAs for each of these steps.

Three types of RNA

  • Messenger RNA (mRNA) copies portions of genetic code; a process called transcription and transports these copies to ribosomes, which are the cellular factories that facilitate the production of proteins from this code.
  • Transfer RNA (tRNA) is responsible for bringing amino acids, basic protein building blocks, to these protein factories, in response to the coded instructions introduced by the mRNA. This protein-building process is called translation.
  • Finally, Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) is a component of the ribosome factory itself without which protein production would not occur.

History- Important places, persons in news

How the US’ Trinity Test led to the dawn of the atomic age?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Manhattan Project, WW2 and related stories

On this day, exactly 75 years ago, US scientists tested ‘Gadget’— the world’s first atomic bomb — in what was dubbed as the ‘Trinity Test’.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What is the Manhattan Project? Describe its consequences on the post-world war scenario.

The Trinity Test

  • The super bomb, nicknamed ‘Gadget’, was built by a team of scientists at a top-secret site in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
  • It was developed as part of the US-led Manhattan Project, which sought to build nuclear weapons to give the allied forces an edge over Germany, Japan and Italy in World War 2.
  • Very soon after the Trinity test, an identical nuclear bomb called ‘Fat Man’ was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, killing tens of thousands of people.
  • Before it detonated, the scientists had placed bets on what could happen. Some believed that the bomb would be a dud and would fail to explode.

What was the Manhattan Project?

  • Germany initiated World War II by invading Poland.
  • A letter signed by Nobel prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein warned then-US President Franklin D Roosevelt of the potential threat posed by an atomic weapon being developed by Adolf Hitler.
  • Soon after, the US launched a secret atomic research undertaking, code-named the Manhattan Project, which sought to develop an atomic weapon to end the war.

Execution of the project

  • The Project remained a relatively small-scale initiative for the next two years.
  • It was only after the bombing of Pearl Harbour the project was officially kicked into gear.
  • By December 1942 facilities were established in remote locations across the US, as well as in Canada.
  • However, the superbomb was finally designed and conceptualized by a team of scientists at a top-secret laboratory in Los Alamos.
  • The Los Alamos team developed two types of bombs — one was uranium-based, which was later code-named ‘the Little Boy’ before it was dropped on Hiroshima; the other had a plutonium core.

Looping-in nuclear physicists

  • The project brought together some of the country’s leading atomic experts as well as exiled scientists and physicists from Germany and other Nazi-occupied nations.
  • The team at Los Alamos was headed by J Robert Oppenheimer, a physics professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Oppenheimer later came to be known as the “father of the atomic bomb”.
  • His team included famous Danish scientist Niels Bohr and Italian scientists Enrico Fermi.

What were the repercussions of the Trinity Test?

  • New Mexico residents were pointedly not warned before the test, to ensure that it was carried out secretly.
  • Data collected by the New Mexico health department, which showed the adverse impact of radiation caused by the detonation, was ignored for years after the test.
  • A sudden rise in infant mortality was reported in the months after the explosion. Several residents also complained that the number of cancer patients went up after the Trinity Test.
  • The dust outfall from the explosion was expected to have travelled nearly 100 miles from the test site, posing a serious threat to residents in the area.
  • Many families complained that their livestock suffered skin burns, bleeding and loss of hair.

Impact of bombing on Japan

  • The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are known to have killed well over 200,000 people — many of whom succumbed to radiation poisoning in the weeks after the blasts.
  • The uranium bomb in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, destroyed around 70 per cent of all buildings and caused around 140,000 deaths by the end of 1945.
  • The plutonium bomb explosion over Nagasaki, which took place three days later, killed 74,000 people that year, according to International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICANW) data.
  • After seeing the destruction caused to the two Japanese cities, Oppenheimer publicly admitted that he regretted building a bomb that could cause an apocalypse.

Nuclearisation of the world thus began

  • Seventy-five years after the Trinity Test, as many as nine countries around the world are currently in possession of nuclear weapons.
  • These include the US, the UK, Russia, France, India, China, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea.
  • At least eight countries have detonated over 2,000 nuclear test explosions since 1945.
  • The most recent instance of nuclear bomb test explosions conducted by India, were the series of five explosions done as part of the Pokhran-II tests in May 1998.
  • The first test, code-named Smiling Buddha, took place in May 1974.

History- Important places, persons in news

Who was Herbert Kleber?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Herbert Kleber and his work

Mains level : NA

With today’s doodle, Google is remembering Dr Herbert David Kleber, who reframed the field of addiction treatment.

Try this question from CSP 2016:

A recent movie titled The Man Who Knew Infinity is based on the biography of-

(a) S. Ramanujan
(b) S. Chandrasekhar
(c) S. N. Bose
(d) C. V. Raman

Herbert Kleber

  • Born on June 19, 1934, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dr Kleber studied medicine, where he discovered that psychology was his calling.
  • He viewed addiction as a medical condition rather than a moral failure.
  • He spent years treating people with drug addiction and realized that the treatment needed a new approach backed by scientific research.
  • His new methods of treatment gained an appreciation and he was appointed as the deputy director for demand reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy by the then U.S. President George H. W. Bush.
  • He headed many projects on developing new methods to treat individuals with alcohol, cocaine, heroin and alcohol addictions.

History- Important places, persons in news

Remembering P C Mahalanobis


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Achievements of Indians

Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, India’s ‘Plan Man’ and the architect of the country’s statistical system is more relevant now in times of Covid pandemic when we grapple with the lack of data.

Analysing 1944 Bengal famine

  • He conducted a large-scale sample survey of Bengal’s famine between July 1944 and February 1945.
  • Sample survey helped in causal analysis and to assess the extent of the disaster and an estimate of the number of people affected.

Relevance today

  • Bengal’s famine survey reminds us that we need estimates of the millions who will lose jobs or livelihoods in today’s pandemic.
  • The extent of feasibility, success and problem of online access also needs to be properly estimated in this new dawn.
  • Mahalanobis is perhaps more relevant today when the accuracy of different sorts of data is under the scanner.
  • Mahalanobis envisaged large-scale sample surveys as statistical engineering rather than pure theory of sampling.
  • He was instrumental in establishing the National Sample Survey (NSS) in 1950 and the Central Statistical Organization in 1951.

Data accuracy

  • Mahalanobis was very careful about data accuracy in his surveys.
  • In Kautilya’s Arthashastra, there is mention of the need for cross-checking by an independent set of agents for data collection.
  • This, according to Mahalanobis, was the “striking feature in the Arthashastra”.
  • This might have prompted him to have an independent supervisory staff during the conduct of field operations by the NSS.
  • His initial training in Physics might have made him conscious about errors in measurement and observation.
  • The desire to have built-in cross-checks and to get an estimate of errors in sampling led him to introduce the Inter-Penetrating Network of Subsamples.
  • The network is considered as the curtain-raiser for re-sampling procedures like Bootstrap.
  • Bootstrap is a revolutionary concept of statistics.

Difficulties in conducting surveys

  • Even Mahalanobis could have faced hardship had he wished to conduct surveys now.
  • First, even in pre-COVID-19 India, it’s widely reported that surveyors were facing tremendous resistance from people due to some sociopolitical reasons.
  • Pronab Sen, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Economic Statistics, and former Chief Statistician, expressed his concern that the survey system is already in “deep trouble”.
  • Conducting household surveys with the Census as the frame would be “very tough” going ahead.
  • The problem will intensify due to COVID-19.

Use of technology for survey

  • Mahalanobis never shied away from technology.
  • He was instrumental in bringing computers to India.
  • The Mahalanobis-led Indian Statistical Institute procured India’s first computer in 1956 and the second in 1959.

Consider the question asked in 2019 “How was India benefitted from the contributions of Sir M.Visvesvaraya and Dr M. S. Swaminathan in the fields of water engineering and agricultural science respectively?”


Mahalanobis wrote: “Statistics are a minor detail, but they do help.” This is an eternal truth. What Mahalanobis didn’t spell out is that one needs a top statistician for listening to the heartbeats of data and for framing data-based policy decisions for human welfare and national development.

History- Important places, persons in news

Sindhu Darshan Puja


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Art and culture

Mains level : Not much

During his day-long whirlwind visit, PM Narendra performed Sindhu Darshan Puja at Nimu, the forward brigade place in Ladakh.

Sindhu Darshan Puja.

⦁ Sindhu Darshan Festival is a festival of India held every year on full moon day (on Guru Purnima) in the month of June.
⦁ It is held at Leh, in Ladakh District of Ladakh. It stretches for three days.
⦁ It was first started in the October by veteran politician L.K. Advani, 1997 and continues to be held every year since then, attracting large number of foreign and domestic tourists.
⦁ The main reason behind the celebration of Sindhu Darshan Festival is to endorse the Indus River (Sindhu River) as an icon of the communal harmony and unity of India.

History- Important places, persons in news

What is the Hagia Sophia?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hagia Sophia

Mains level : World History: Turkish renaissance under Ottoman Empire

Turkey’s highest court this week convened to decide whether Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia museum can be turned into a mosque.

Try this question:

Q. The iconic Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage site was recently in news. It is situated in:

a) Greece b) Turkey c) Israel d) Iran

What is the Hagia Sophia?

  • The construction of this iconic structure in Istanbul started in 532 AD during the reign of Justinian I, the ruler of the Byzantine Empire when the city was known as Constantinople.
  • The structure was originally built to become the seat of the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church and remained so for approximately 900 years.
  • In 1453, when Constantinople fell to Sultan Mehmet II’s Ottoman forces, the Hagia Sophia was ransacked by the invading forces and turned into a mosque shortly after.
  • For a long time, the Hagia Sophia was Istanbul’s most important mosque.
  • The 1,500-year-old structure, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, was originally a cathedral before it was turned into a mosque.

What is the controversy about?

  • In the 1930s, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, shut down the mosque and turned it into a museum in an attempt to make the country more secular.
  • There have been calls for long from extremists groups to convert the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.

History- Important places, persons in news

In news: Santhal Rebellion


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Santhal Rebellion

Mains level : Tribal uprisings in colonial India

Covid-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of annual public observance of Hul in Jharkhand.

Try this question from CSP 2018:

Q.After the Santhal uprising subsided, what was/ were the measure/measures taken by the colonial government?

  1. The territories called ‘Santhal Paraganas’ were created.
  2. It became illegal for a Santhal to transfer land to a non Santhal.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Hul Divas

  • Hul Divas is observed annually on June 30 in memory of tribals — Sidho and Kanhu Murmu — who led the Santhal Hul (rebellion) on June 30, 1855, at Bhognadih in Sahebganj district.

About Santhal Rebellion

  • The Santhals of Rajmahal Hills resented the oppression by revenue officials, police, money-lenders, and landlords—in general, by the “outsiders’ (whom they called diku).
  • The Santhals under Sido and Kanhu rose up against their oppressors, declared the end of the Company’s rule and asserted themselves independent in 1854.
  • It was only in 1856 after extensive military operations that the situation was brought under control. Sido died in 1855, while Kanhu was arrested in 1866.
  • A separate district of Santhal Parganas was created by the Government to pacify the Santhals.

Must read:

Tribal Issues | Part 2 | Pre Independence Tribal Revolts

History- Important places, persons in news

Statistics Day and P.C. Mahalanobis


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PC Mahalanobis

Mains level : NA

Statistics Day will be celebrated today on 29th June 2020 to popularize the use of Statistics in everyday life and sensitize the public as to how Statistics helps in shaping and framing policies.

Try this question from CSP 2016:

A recent movie titled The Man Who Knew Infinity is based on the biography of-

(a) S. Ramanujan
(b) S. Chandrasekhar
(c) S. N. Bose
(d) C. V. Raman

Who was P.C. Mahalanobis?

  • Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis (29 June 1893 – 28 June 1972) was an Indian scientist and statistician.
  • He is best remembered for the Mahalanobis distance, a statistical measure, and for being one of the members of the first Planning Commission of free India.
  • He made pioneering studies in anthropometry (the science of obtaining systematic measurements of the human body) in India.
  • He founded the Indian Statistical Institute and contributed to the design of large-scale sample surveys.
  • For his contributions, Mahalanobis has been considered the father of modern statistics in India.

History- Important places, persons in news

The spirit of ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’ in Indian History


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lal-Bal-Pal

Mains level : Swadeshi Movement and its pioneers

To commemorate the death centenary of Tilak, a Pune based NGO is set to revive the Independence-era spirit of the ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’, named after nationalists Lala Lajpat Rai, ‘Lokmanya’ Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2010:

Q. What was the immediate cause for the launch of the Swadeshi movement?

(a) The partition of Bengal done by Lord Curzon.

(b) A sentence of 18 months of rigorous imprisonment imposed on Lokmanya Tilak.

(c) The arrest and deportation of Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh; and passing of the Punjab ColonizationBill.

(d) Death sentence pronounced on the Chapekarbrothers.

About Lal-Bal-Pal

  • Lal Bal Pal was a triumvirate of assertive nationalists in British-ruled India in the early 20th century, from 1906 to 1918.
  • They advocated the Swadeshi movement involving the boycott of all imported items and the use of Indian-made goods in 1907 during the anti-Partition agitation in Bengal which began in 1905.
  • The final years of the nineteenth century saw a radical sensibility emerge among some Indian intellectuals.
  • This position burst onto the national all-India scene in 1905 with the Swadeshi movement – the term is usually rendered as “self-reliance” or “self-sufficiency”.

Their Legacy

  • Lal-Bal-Pal mobilized Indians across the country against the Bengal partition, and the demonstrations, strikes and boycotts of British goods that began in Bengal soon spread to other regions in a broader protest against the Raj.
  • The nationalist movement gradually faded with the arrest of its main leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak and retirement of Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh from active politics.
  • While Lala Lajpat Rai suffered from injuries, due to British police superintendent, James A. Scott, ordered the British Indian police to lathi charge and personally assaulted Rai; he died on 17 November 1928.


Lala Lajpat Rai

  • Born in undivided Punjab on 28 January 1865, Lala Lajpat Rai grew up in a family that allowed the freedom of faith.
  • Even before he focused his efforts towards a self-sufficient India, Rai believed in the principle.
  • In 1895, he started the Punjab National Bank—the first Indian bank to begin solely with Indian capital, and that continues to function till date.
  • Rai had travelled to America in 1907 and immediately caught up similarities between the ‘colour-caste’ practised there and the caste system prevalent in India.
  • In 1917, he even founded the Indian Home Rule League of America there.
  • His proactive, brave participation in the protest earned him the title of the Lion of Punjab or Punjab Kesari.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak (23 July 1856 – 1 August 1920) was an Indian nationalist, teacher, and an independence activist
  • In 1884, he founded the Deccan Education Society in Pune, and under the banner, opened the New English School for primary studies and Fergusson College for higher education.
  • His involvement in the educational institutions was to emphasise on the cultural revival of young Indian minds.
  • For the British, Tilak was the “Father of the Indian Unrest.”
  • When the Indian National Congress was divided among moderates and extremes—the stand that each member took against the British government—there was no doubt which side Tilak supported.
  • Literary works: Kesari and Maratha newspapers

Bipin Chandra Pal

  • The father of revolutionary thoughts, Bipin Chandra Pal, was born to a wealthy family in Sylhet, Bengal Presidency (now in Bangladesh).
  • Pal was a journalist by profession and often contributed to several newspapers.
  • He used his literary expertise to write against the use of British goods, advocating Indians to start using Swadeshi goods instead.
  • He was of a strong opinion that a mass reliance on Swadeshi goods would help people get rid of their poverty.

History- Important places, persons in news

Why Russia celebrates WWII triumph on a different date?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : WW2 and related stories

Raksha Mantri is on a three-day trip to Russia to attend the 75th Victory Day. India has sent a tri-services contingent to participate in the Victory Day Parade.

Try these questions from CS Mains:

Q.To what extent can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically. (CSM 2015)


Q.The New Economic Policy – 1921 of Lenin had influenced the policies adopted by India soon after independence. Evaluate. (CSM 2014)

What is Victory Day?

  • Victory Day marks the end of World War II and the victory of the Allied Forces in 1945.
  • Adolf Hitler had shot himself on April 30. On May 7, German troops surrendered, which was formally accepted the next day and came into effect on May 9.
  • In most European countries, it is celebrated on May 8 and is called the Victory in Europe Day.

Why does Russia not celebrate Victory Day on the same date?

  • The erstwhile Soviet Union had not wanted the surrender to take place in the west and wanted that such a significant event should reflect the contribution of the Red Army and the Soviet population.
  • According to historians, Joseph Stalin, premier of the Soviet Union, wanted Germany to also sign surrender in Berlin.
  • Since crowds were already gathering in London to celebrate, Victory in Europe Day celebration in Britain would take place on 8 May, as they did in the United States.
  • This did not convince Stalin, who argued that Soviet troops were still fighting the German forces in many areas.
  • German soldiers did not surrender in East Prussia, Courland Peninsula, Czechoslovakia till later. Hence victory celebration could therefore not begin in the Soviet Union even after May 9.

If May 9 is Victory Day, why is it being celebrated on June 24?

  • This year, the celebrations this year were pushed to June because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • After winning the war and having its own Victory Day on May 9, Stalin wanted to commemorate the victory with a military parade.
  • On June 22, 1945, he ordered the commemoration of the victory over Germany to hold the victory parade on June 24, 1945, in Moscow’s Red Square.
  • Hence the first Victory Day Parade took place on June 24 in Moscow. However, since then, the Parades have taken place on May 9.

History- Important places, persons in news

100 Years of Malabar Rebellion


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Malabar Rebellion 1921

Mains level : Peasants revolts in the colonial period

With the 1921 Malabar Rebellion turning 100 next year, several movies have been announced back-to-back.

Try this question from CSP 2015:

Q. Which amongst the following provided a common factor for tribal insurrection in India in the 19th century?

(a.) Introduction of a new system of land revenue and taxation- of tribal products

(b.) Influence of foreign religious missionaries in tribal areas

(c.) Rise of a large number of money lenders, traders and revenue farmers as middlemen in tribal areas

(d.) The complete disruption of the old agrarian order of the tribal communities

What is the Malabar Rebellion?

  • The Malabar Rebellion in 1921 started as resistance against the British colonial rule and the feudal system in southern Malabar but ended in communal violence between Hindus and Muslims.
  • There were a series of clashes between Mappila peasantry and their landlords, supported by the British, throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • It began as a reaction against a heavy-handed crackdown on the Khilafat Movement, a campaign in defence of the Ottoman Caliphate by the British authorities in the Eranad and Valluvanad taluks of Malabar.
  • The Mappilas attacked and took control of police stations, British government offices, courts and government treasuries.

Also in news:

Variyankunna Kunjahammed Haji

  • He was one of the leaders of the Malabar Rebellion of 1921.
  • He raised 75000 natives, seized control of large territory from the British rule and set up a parallel government.
  • In January 1922, under the guise of a treaty, the British betrayed Haji through his close friend Unyan Musaliyar, arresting him from his hideout and producing him before a British judge.
  • He was sentenced to death along with his compatriots.

History- Important places, persons in news

Sukapha: The founder of Ahom kingdom


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ahom Kingdom

Mains level : Not Much

Recently, Assam CM ordered the arrest of a political commentator who had described Chaolung Sukapha as a “Chinese invader”.

Practice question for mains:

Q. Who are the Ahoms? Describe the role of Ahom Kingdom in cultural assimilation of modern-day Assam.

Who was Chaolung Sukapha?

  • Sukapha was a 13th-century ruler who founded the Ahom kingdom that ruled Assam for six centuries. Contemporary scholars trace his roots to Burma.
  • He reached Brahmaputra valley in Assam from upper Burma in the 13th century with around 9,000 followers.
  • Sukapha is said to have left a place called Maulung ( in Yunnan, China ) in AD 1215 with eight nobles and 9,000 men, women and children — mostly men.
  • In 1235, Sukapha and his people settled in Charaideo in upper Assam after wandering about for years, defeating those who protested his advance and temporarily staying at different locations.
  • It was in Charaideo (in Assam) that Sukapha established his first small principality, sowing the seeds of further expansion of the Ahom kingdom.

Who are the Ahoms today?

  • The founders of the Ahom kingdom had their own language and followed their own religion.
  • Over the centuries, the Ahoms accepted the Hindu religion and the Assamese language, scholars say.
  • The Ahoms embraced the language, religion and rituals of the communities living here — they did not impose theirs on those living here.
  • Today, the Ahom community is estimated to number between 4 million and 5 million.

Why is Sukapha important in Assamese culture?

  • Sukapha’s significance — especially in today’s Assam — lies in his successful efforts towards the assimilation of different communities and tribes.
  • He developed very amicable relationships with the tribal communities living here — especially the Sutias, the Morans and the Kacharis.
  • Intermarriage also increased assimilation processes. He is widely referred to as the architect of “Bor Asom” or “greater Assam”.

History- Important places, persons in news

Purandara Dasa and his legacy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Purandara Dasa

Mains level : Bhakti Saints of South India

The Department of Archaeology, Karnataka has commenced field research work regarding the birthplace of Purandara Dasa who is held as the father figure of Carnatic music.

Recently there was a news on Lord Basaveshwara. Now comes the other popular saint.

Vaishnavism and Shaivism are the two most profound strands of Bhakti Movement in Indian history. Enlist all the Bhakti Saints and their theistic philosophy and teachings. Try to spot the minute differences between them.

Purandara Dasa

  • Purandara Dasa (1484 –1565) was a Haridasa, a renowned composer of Carnatic music, a great devotee of the Supreme Lord Krishna, a Vaishnava poet, a saint and a social reformer.
  • He was a disciple of the Dvaita philosopher-saint Vyasatirtha, and a contemporary of yet another Haridasa, Kanakadasa.
  • He was a composer, singer and one of the chief founding-proponents of South Indian classical music (Carnatic music).
  • In honour of his significant contributions to Carnatic music, he is widely referred to as the Pitamaha (lit. “father” or “grandfather”) of Carnatic music.
  • He is respected as an Avatara (incarnation) of the great sage Narada (a celestial being who is also a singer).

Confusions over his birthplace

  • As ‘Purandara Vithala’ was the pen name of his compositions, it was widely believed that the mystic poet was born in Purandar (near Pune), Maharashtra.
  • However, many in Malnad claimed that he hailed from this region.
  • According to historians, Araga in Malnad was a buzzing commercial centre during the Vijayanagar rule, the period to which the poet belonged to.
  • Prior to his initiation to Haridasa tradition, Purandara Dasa was a rich merchant and was called as Srinivasa Nayaka.

Back2Basics: Bhakti Movement

  • The Bhakti movement refers to the theistic devotional trend that emerged in medieval Hinduism.
  • It originated in eighth-century south India and spread northwards.
  • It swept over east and north India from the 15th century onwards, reaching its zenith between the 15th and 17th century CE.
  • It has traditionally been considered as an influential social reformation in Hinduism and provided an individual-focused alternative path to spirituality regardless of one’s birth or gender
  • The salvation which was previously considered attainable only by men of Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya castes, became available to everyone.

History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Ramkinkar Baij


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ramkinkar Baij and his artworks

Mains level : Modern artforms in India

Ministry of Culture’s has organised virtual tour titled “Ramkinkar Baij | Journey through silent transformation and expressions” to commemorate his 115th Birth Anniversary.

We can expect a description based question in prelims like-

Q. “In 1925, he made his way to Kala Bhavana, the art school at Santiniketan and was under the guidance of Nandalal Bose. Encouraged by the liberating, intellectual environment of (Tagore’s) Santiniketan, his artistic skills and intellectual horizons blossomed, thus acquiring greater depth and complexity. One of the earliest modernists in Indian art, he assimilated the idioms of the European modern visual language and yet was rooted in his own Indian ethos.”

Who is the imminent personality discussed?

Who was Ramkinkar Baij?

  • Ramkinkar Baij (1906-1980), one of the most seminal artists of modern India, was an iconic sculptor, painter and graphic artist.
  • He was born in Bankura, West Bengal, into a family of little economic and social standing and grew by his sheer determination into one of the most distinguished early modernists of Indian art.
  • In 1925, he made his way to Kala Bhavana, the art school at Santiniketan and was under the guidance of Nandalal Bose.
  • Encouraged by the liberating, intellectual environment of (Tagore’s) Santiniketan, his artistic skills and intellectual horizons blossomed, thus acquiring greater depth and complexity.

His works

  • One of the earliest modernists in Indian art, he assimilated the idioms of the European modern visual language and yet was rooted in his own Indian ethos.
  • His themes were steeped in a deep sense of humanism and an instinctive understanding of the symbiotic relationship between man and nature.
  • Both in his paintings and sculptures, he pushed the limits of experimentation and ventured into the use of new materials.
  • For instance, his use of unconventional material, for the time, such as cement concrete for his monumental public sculptures set a new precedent for art practices.
  • The use of cement, laterite and mortar to model the figures, and the use of a personal style in which modern western and Indian pre-classical sculptural values were brought together was equally radical.

Popular recognition

  • Although his work was passed over for quite a while, gradually it began to get both national and international attention.
  • He was invited to participate in the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in 1950 and in the Salon de Mai in 1951.
  • In the national honours began to come his way one after the other.
  • In 1970, the Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan for his irrefutable contribution to Indian art.
  • In 1976 he was made a Fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi.
  • In 1976, he was conferred the honorary Doctoral Degree of ‘Desikottama’ by Visva Bharati, and in 1979 an honorary D. Litt by Rabindra Bharati University.

History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Gopal Krishna Gokhale


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GK Gokhale

Mains level : Gokhale and his contribution in freedom struggle

The Prime Minister has paid tributes to Gopal Krishna Gokhale on his birth anniversary.

These days, personality-based prelims questions are quite prevalent.

Q.) He wrote biographies of Mazzini, Garibaldi, Shivaji and Shri Krishna; stayed in America for some time; and was also elected to the Central Assembly. He was – (CSP 2018)

a) Aurobindo Ghosh

b) Bipin Chandra Pal

c) Lala Lajpat Rai

d) Motilal Nehru

Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915)

  • Gokhale was a liberal political leader and a social reformer during the Freedom Movement.
  • Gokhale was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress (INC) and the founder of the Servants of India Society.
  • Through the Society as well as the Congress and other legislative bodies he served in, Gokhale campaigned for Indian self-rule and for social reforms.

Gokhale and INC

  • Gokhale became a member of the INC in 1889, as a protégé of social reformer MG Ranade.
  • He was the leader of the moderate faction of the Congress party that advocated reforms by working with existing government institutions.

Quest for political reforms

  • Gokhale’s mentor, justice M.G. Ranade started the Sarvajanik Sabha Journal.
  • Gokhale’s deposition before the Welby Commission on the financial condition of India won him accolades.
  • He played a leading role in bringing about Morley-Minto Reforms (1909), the beginning of constitutional reforms in India.

Servants of India Society

  • In 1905, when Gokhale was elected president of the INC and was at the height of his political power, he founded the Servants of India Society.
  • It aimed to specifically further one of the causes dearests to his heart: the expansion of Indian education.
  • The Society took up the cause of promoting Indian education in earnest, and among its many projects organised mobile libraries, founded schools, and provided night classes for factory workers.

Involvement in the government

  • In 1899, Gokhale was elected to the Bombay Legislative Council.
  • He was also elected to the Imperial Council of the Governor-General of India as a non-officiating member representing Bombay Province.

Mentor to Gandhi

  • Gokhale was famously a mentor to Mahatma Gandhi in the latter’s formative years.
  • In 1912, Gokhale visited South Africa at Gandhi’s invitation.
  • As a young barrister, Gandhi returned from his struggles and received personal guidance from Gokhale, including a knowledge and understanding of India and the issues confronting common Indians.
  • By 1931, Gandhi emerged as the leader of the Indian Independence Movement. In his autobiography, Gandhi calls Gokhale his mentor and guide.

His literary works

  • In 1908, Gokhale founded the Ranade Institute of Economics.
  • He started the English weekly newspaper, The Hitavad (The people’s paper).
  • He also published a daily newspaper titled Jnanaprakash, which allowed him to voice his reformist views on politics and society.

With inputs from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gopal_Krishna_Gokhale

History- Important places, persons in news

Florence Nightingale and her legacy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Florence Nightingale

Mains level : Not Much

The 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, falls tomorrow on May 12.

Personality based questions sometimes find their way in the Prelims. For example:

Q) A recent movie titled The Man Who Knew Infinity is based on the biography of – (CSP 2016)

(a) S. Ramanujan

(b) S. Chandrasekhar

(c) S. N. Bose

(d) C. V. Raman

Who was Florence Nightingale?

  • Nightingale (1820-1910), who had considerable mathematical skills, is credited with being the first healthcare professional to use data to show that infection control improves health outcomes.
  • Through her career, she stressed a practice that is relevant as ever today — handwashing.

Nurse and mathematician

  • Her signature effort came during the Crimean War (1854-56), when she answered a government call for nurses and took a posting in Turkey.
  • This is where she earned the name ‘Lady with the Lamp’, for walking around patients’ beds at night, holding a lamp. Here she did her pioneering work with statistics.
  • When she arrived, diseases such as cholera and typhus were rife in the hospitals.
  • Nightingale collected data, calculated the mortality rate, and showed that an improvement of sanitary methods would reduce the number of deaths.
  • The mortality rate dropped from 60% to 42.7% by February 1855, and to 2.2% by the spring.

  • She used her data to create graphics, the most famous of which is a polar area diagram (pictured) that used areas to represent variations in death rate.
  • The blue wedges from the center of the circle represent area for the deaths from Preventable or Mitigable diseases, the red wedges measured from the center is deaths from wounds, & the black wedges measured from the center is the deaths from all other causes.
  • The blue wedges, representing death by sickness, are far bigger than those representing wounds.

History- Important places, persons in news

Attack on Pearl Harbor (1941)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : World History: Pearl Harbor Attack and its aftermath

US President Mr Trump has said the COVID-19 pandemic is a worse “attack” on the U.S. than either Pearl Harbor or 9/11.

Practice Question :

Discuss how the world order changed post Pearl Harbour attack with context to the US hegemony in Asia-Pacific.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

  • The December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour was among the most significant moments of the World War II.
  • It signalled the official entry of the US into the hostilities, which eventually led to the dropping of nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
  • Significantly, in December 2016, Shinzo Abe became the first sitting Japanese Prime Minister to visit Pearl Harbour.

What led up to the attack on Pearl Harbour?

  • Before Japan attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941, relations between the US and Japan were already worsening.
  • In 1910, Japan annexed Korea and, in 1937, it invaded China, sending alarm bells ringing in the US and other Western powers about Japan’s manifest expansionist agenda.
  • Between December 1937 and January 1938, an episode which is referred to as the “Nanking Massacre” or the “Rape of Nanking”, occurred — Japanese soldiers killed and raped Chinese civilians and combatants.
  • Japanese historians estimate that anywhere between tens of thousands and 200,000 Chinese were killed.
  • The US was against Japan’s aggression in China, and imposed economic sanctions and trade embargoes after its invasion.

Immediate causes

  • Japan was reliant on imports for oil and other natural resources — this was one of the reasons why it invaded China and later French Indo-China (present-day Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia).
  • The intention was to take control of the major Chinese ports to have access to resources such as iron, rubber, tin, and most importantly, oil.
  • In July 1941, the US ceased exporting oil to Japan.
  • Negotiations between the two countries ended with the “Hull Note”, the final proposal delivered to Japan by the US. Essentially, the US wanted Japan to withdraw from China without any conditions.
  • Ultimately, the negotiations did not lead to any concrete results, following which Japan set its task for Pearl Harbour in the last week of November 1941.
  • Japan considered the attack to be a preventive measure against the US interfering with Japan’s plans to carry out military operations in some parts of Southeast Asia.

What happened at Pearl Harbour?

  • About 7.55 am on December 7, 1941, about 180 aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the US Naval base at Pearl Harbour on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
  • The bombing killed over 2,300 Americans and destroyed the battleships USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma.
  • Roughly 160 aircraft were destroyed, and 150 were damaged.

Impact on the US

  • In the short term, the American naval presence in the Pacific was severely weakened.
  • However, the Japanese had largely ignored the harbour’s infrastructure, and many of the damaged ships were repaired on-site and returned to duty.
  • American opinion immediately shifted to favouring war with Japan, a course that would conclude with Japan’s unconditional surrender less than four years later.

History- Important places, persons in news

What is Cinco de Mayo and why is it celebrated?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cinco de Mayo , Battle of Puebla

Mains level : World History - Napoleonic assertion in Europe

Cinco de Mayo, or fifth of May in Spanish, also called Battle of Puebla Day, is an annual celebration observed in Mexico and the US that marks the former’s military victory on its soil over French forces in 1862.

Possible mains question:

Q. The French colonization attempts went beyond India and had a global reach. Comment.

French advent in Mexico

  • In the 1860s, Mexico had been severely weakened by lengthy wars over the previous two decades – the Mexican-American War (1846-48) and the internal Reform War (1858-61).
  • As a result, in 1861, the then President Benito Juárez announced a temporary moratorium of two years on repaying Mexico’s foreign debts.
  • In response, troops from Britain, Spain, and France invaded Mexico, demanding reimbursement.
  • By April 1862, Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew.
  • France, which at the time was led by Emperor Napoleon III, decided to establish an empire in Mexican territories with the support of the local landowning classes.
  • France also intended to curb US power in North America.

The Battle of Puebla

  • In late 1861, a French fleet attacked the Mexican port of Veracruz on the country’s eastern coast and landed a large army that drove the Juárez government into retreat.
  • As they moved from Veracruz to capital Mexico City, the French encountered stiff resistance from Mexican forces.
  • At Puebla, over 100 km ahead of Mexico City, a poorly equipped and outnumbered Mexican force decisively defeated the advancing French troops on May 5, 1862, killing over a thousand.
  • The event marked a significant political victory of Mexican republicans and President Juárez and helped establish a sense of national unity in the country.

Cinco de Mayo: Present-day significance

  • In Puebla, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated annually with speeches, parades, and by reenacting episodes of the 1862 battle.
  • The city today houses a museum dedicated to the battle, and the actual battlefield is maintained as a park.
  • In the US, in the mid-20th century, the celebration became a way for immigrants from Mexico to express pride in their heritage.
  • Later, Cinco de Mayo also became popular with other demographics in the country when the festivities were linked with Mexican alcoholic beverages.
  • As the celebration assumed greater importance in the country, many have criticised the negative stereotypes of Mexicans that were perpetuated as a result, as well as the promotion of excessive drinking.

History- Important places, persons in news

Significance of UK labor party’s remarks on Kashmir


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : India in Labour Party (UK) manifestos

Mains level : Not Much

The UK Labour party’s newly appointed leader Keir Starmer said Kashmir was a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan to resolve peacefully. These remarks were seen as an attempt to re-position his party’s stance on Kashmir and reach out to the Indian community in Britain.

What was the Labour party’s stance before?

  • The party’s relations with the Indian diaspora have been strained, especially after its delegates passed an emergency policy motion in September 2019 criticizing India’s decision to revoke Article 370.
  • It maintained that the people of Kashmir should have self-determination rights.

Why is the Labour Party’s relationship with the Indian diaspora important?

  • Indians are the largest ethnic community in the UK, numbering over 1.5 million people or accounting for over 2.3 per cent of the country’s population.
  • Therefore, they form a significant vote share for any party.
  • In the 2017 general elections, 50 per cent of the Indians living in the UK had voted for Labour.

India in Labour Party (UK) manifestos

Over the years, issues relating to India have found various mention in many election manifestos in the UK:

  • 1945: India’s freedom had been a campaign promise of the Labour party, its manifesto pledging “the advancement of India to responsible self-government”.
  • 1947: The Indian Independence Act, 1947, was passed when Attlee was Prime Minister.
  • 1949: all the Commonwealth Prime Ministers welcomed the free choice of India, Pakistan and Ceylon to join the Commonwealth as full and equal members.
  • 2019: Issue a formal apology for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

History- Important places, persons in news

Why May 1 is observed as Labour Day?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : The Haymarket incident, Singaravelu Chettiar, Self Respect Movement

Mains level : Labour reforms in India before and after independence

Today (May 1) is May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day and as Labour Day in different parts of the world. It is an occasion that commemorates the contributions of workers and the historic labour movement.

Personality based history question in the UPSC CSE prelims is on the way to become the new normal. Kindly note all such phenomena in the news which tend to invoke some aspects of the modern Indian history. You can find all such news here.

The Haymarket incident

  • While observed as an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival, May 1 became associated with the labour movement in the late 19th century, after trade unions and socialist groups designated it as a day in support of workers.
  • It was decided to do so in memory of the Haymarket affair of 1886, in Chicago in the United States, in which a peaceful rally in support of workers led to a violent clash with the police, leading to the deaths of 4 civilians and 7 police officers.
  • Many of the agitationists, who were protesting workers’ rights violations, straining work hours, poor working conditions, low wages and child labour, were arrested and served terms of life imprisonment, death sentences, etc., and those who died were hailed as “Haymarket Martyrs”.
  • The incident is believed to have given the workers’ movement a great impetus.

Linked to the Russian Revolution

  • In 1889, The Second Communist International, an organisation created by socialist and labour parties, declared that May 1 would be commemorated as International Workers’ Day from then on.
  • Finally, in 1916, the US began to recognise eight-hour work timings after years of protests and uprisings.
  • In 1904, the International Socialist Congress at Amsterdam called on to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day.
  • After the Russian Revolution in 1917, the celebration was embraced by the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc nations during the Cold War– becoming a national holiday in many of them.
  • Parades were a part of the celebration– the one at Moscow’s Red Square was attended by top Communists leaders and displayed Soviet military might.

Indian Case

  • In India, May Day was first celebrated on May 1, 1923, after the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan initiated and Comrade Singaravelar (Singaravelu Chettiar) helmed the celebrations.
  • Chettiar was known for being one of the leaders of Self Respect Movement in the Madras Presidency and for his fight for the rights of backward classes.
  • In one of his meetings, Chettiar passed a resolution stating the government should allow everybody a national holiday on Labour Day.

History- Important places, persons in news

Who was Lord Basaveshwara?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lord Basaveshwara and his philosophy

Mains level : Six schools of Indian Philosophy

Prime Minister has offered his homage to the 12th-century social reformer Basaveshwara on his birth anniversary.

Vaishnavism and Shaivism are the two most profound strands of Bhakti Movement in Indian history. Enlist all the Bhakti Saints and their theistic philosophy and teachings. Try to spot the minute differences between them.

Lord Basaveshwara

  • Basaveshwara or Basavanna was an Indian 12th-century statesman, philosopher, a poet and Lingayat saint in the Shiva-focussed Bhakti movement and a social reformer in Karnataka.
  • He lived during the reign of the Kalyani Chalukya/Kalachuri dynasty.
  • He was active during the rule of both dynasties but reached his peak of influence during the rule of King Bijjala II in Karnataka, India .

Founder of Lingayat cult

  • The traditional legends and hagiographic texts state Basava to be the founder of the Lingayats.
  • However, modern scholarship relying on historical evidence such as the Kalachuri inscriptions state that Basava was the poet-philosopher who revived, refined and energized an already existing tradition.

His Philosophy

  • Basava’s Lingayat theology was a form of qualified nondualism, wherein the individual Atman (soul) is the body of God, and that there is no difference between Shiva and Atman (self, soul).
  • Basava’s views finds places in Vedanta school, in a form closer to the 11th century Vishishtadvaita philosopher Ramanuja.

Famous works

  • Basavanna spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas.
  • Basavanna rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals but introduced Ishtalinga necklace, with an image of the Shiva Liṅga to every person regardless of his or her birth.
  • As the chief minister of his kingdom, he introduced new public institutions such as the Anubhava Mantapa (or, the “hall of spiritual experience”) which welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds.

Back2Basics: Bhakti Movement

  • The Bhakti movement refers to the theistic devotional trend that emerged in medieval Hinduism.
  • It originated in eighth-century south India and spread northwards.
  • It swept over east and north India from the 15th century onwards, reaching its zenith between the 15th and 17th century CE.
  • It has traditionally been considered as an influential social reformation in Hinduism, and provided an individual-focused alternative path to spirituality regardless of one’s birth or gender
  • Salvation which was previously considered attainable only by men of Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya castes, became available to everyone.

History- Important places, persons in news

Qissa Khwani Bazaar massacre and the Khudai Khidmatgars


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Red Shirts, Khudai Khidmmatgars

Mains level : Various non-violent movements in the freedom struggle

  • Qissa Khwani Bazaar is a renowned market place in the city of Peshawar.
  • Before the Partition, the marketplace was also the site of a massacre perpetrated by British soldiers against non-violent protesters of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement on April 23, 1930.

We can expect a possible mains question inspired from this newscard. The question could be like- “Discuss the role of Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his Khudai Khidmatgar in infusing the Gandhian principle of non-violence in the Frontiers of India “.

The Red Shirts:  Khudai Khidmatgars

  • The Khudai Khidmatgar was a non-violent movement against the British occupation of the Indian subcontinent led by Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Pashtuns freedom fighter, in the North-West Frontier Province.
  • Over time, the movement acquired a more political colour, leading to the British taking notice of its growing prominence in the region.
  • Following the arrest of Khan and other leaders in 1929, the movement formally joined the Indian National Congress after they failed to receive support from the All-India Muslim League.
  • Members of the Khudai Khidmatgar were organised and the men stood out because of the bright red shirts they wore as uniforms, while the women wore black garments.

Why did the massacre happen?

  • Abdul Ghaffar Khan and other leaders of the Khudai Khidmatgar were arrested on April 23, 1930 by British police after he gave a speech at a gathering in the town of Utmanzai in the North-West Frontier Province.
  • A respected leader well-known for his non-violent ways, Khan’s arrest spurred protests in neighbouring towns, including Peshawar.
  • Protests spilled into the Qissa Khwani Bazaar in Peshawar on the day of Khan’s arrest. British soldiers entered the market area to disperse crowds that had refused to leave.
  • In response, British army vehicles drove into the crowds, killing several protesters and bystanders. British soldiers then opened fire on unarmed protestors, killing even more people.
  • Historical records suggest the British attempted to deploy the Garhwal Regiment against the civilians in the marketplace, but two platoons of this respected regiment refused to shoot at unarmed protesters.
  • In retaliation, British officials court-martialled the platoon members with upto eight years of imprisonment.

Aftermath of the massacre

  • The British ramped up the crackdown on Khudai Khidmatgar leaders and members following the Qissa Khwani Bazaar massacre.
  • In response, the movement began involving young women in its struggle against the British, a decision in line with tactics adopted by revolutionaries across undivided India.
  • Women were able to move undetected with more ease than men.
  • According to accounts by Khudai Khidmatgar activists, the British subjected members of the movement to harassment, abuse and coercive tactics adopted elsewhere in the subcontinent.
  • This included physical violence and religious persecution. Following the recruitment of women in the movement, the British also engaged in violence, brutality and abuse of women members.

Khudai Khidmatgars  gets wasted into history

  • British adopted their tactic of sowing divisions on religious grounds in the North-West Frontier Province as well, in an attempt to weaken the Khudai Khidmatgar.
  • In a move that surprised the British government, in August 1931, the Khudai Khidmatgar aligned themselves with the Congress party, forcing the British to reduce the violence they were perpetrated on the movement.
  • The Khudai Khidtmatgar opposed Partition, a stance that many interpreted as the movement not being in favour of the creation of the independent nation of Pakistan.
  • Post 1947, the Khudai Khidmatgar slowly found their political influence decreasing to such an extent that the movement and the massacre 90 years ago in the Bazaar has been wiped out from collective memory (of Pakistan).

History- Important places, persons in news

Ambedkar and the Poona Pact


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Poona Pact, Communal Award

Mains level : Read the attached story

Yesterday was the birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the chief architect of our constitution. On that occasion, author of the news (originally published in TH) highlights the significance of Poona Pact in the formation of our Constitution.

The Poona Pact of 1932 is a landmark event in India’s struggle for independence. It marked the start of social justice movement in the country under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar.

What is Poona Pact?

  • In late September 1932, B.R. Ambedkar negotiated the Poona Pact with Mahatma Gandhi.
  • The background to the Poona Pact was the Communal Award of August 1932, which, among other things, reserved 71 seats in the central legislature for the depressed classes.
  • The Award was made by then British PM Ramsay MacDonald on 16 August 1932 to extended separate electorate.
  • It aimed to grant separate electorates in British India for the Forward Caste, Lower Caste, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, Europeans and then Untouchables.
  • Gandhi, who was opposed to the Communal Award, saw it as a British attempt to split Hindus, and began a fast unto death to have it repealed.

How Poona Pact defeated the Communal Award?

  • Reserved seats: In a settlement negotiated with Gandhi, Ambedkar agreed for depressed class candidates to be elected by a joint electorate.
  • More representation: On his insistence, slightly over twice as many seats (147) were reserved for the depressed classes in the legislature than what had been allotted under the Communal Award.
  • Doors opened for Public Services: In addition, the Poona Pact assured a fair representation of the depressed classes in the public services while earmarking a portion of the educational grant for their uplift.
  • Social acceptance: The Poona Pact was an emphatic acceptance by upper-class Hindus that the depressed classes constituted the most discriminated sections of Hindu society.
  • Increased political say: It was also conceded that something concrete had to be done to give them a political voice as well as a leg-up to lift them from backwardness they could not otherwise overcome.

Significance of the pact

  • The concessions agreed to in the Poona Pact were precursors to the world’s largest affirmative programme launched much later in independent India.
  • It would also not have been lost on him that Muhammad Ali Jinnah, with the separatist tendencies strongly backing him, was watching and waiting to take advantage of the evolving situation.
  • A slew of measures was initiated later to uplift Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Major outcomes

  • The Poona Pact emphatically sealed Ambedkar’s leadership of the depressed classes across India.
  • He made the entire country, and not just the Congress Party, morally responsible for the uplift of the depressed classes.
  • Most of all he succeeded in making the depressed classes a formidable political force for the first time in history.

History- Important places, persons in news

Who are the Nihangs?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nihang cult

Mains level : Not Much

The Patiala incident in which a group of Nihangs attacked a Punjab police officer has put the spotlight on the Nihangs.

This newscard focuses on Nihang cult of Sikhism. Though in news for a different purpose, it is significant for prelims.

Who is a Nihang?

  • Nihang is an order of Sikh warriors, characterized by blue robes, antiquated arms such as swords and spears, and decorated turbans surmounted by steel quoits.
  • Etymologically the word Nihang stems more from the Sanskrit word nihshank which means without fear, unblemished, pure, carefree and indifferent to worldly gains and comfort.
  • The word Nihang also occurs in a hymn in the Guru Granth Sahib, where it alludes to a fearless and unrestrained person.

When was the order formed?

  • Formation of Nihang order can be traced back to the creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

How were Nihangs different from other Sikhs, and other Sikh warriors?

  • As per an account by the East India Company’s Colonel James Skinner (1778-1841), Khalsa Sikhs were divided into two groups.
  • Those who put on blue attire which Guru Gobind Singh used to wear at the time of battle and those who do not follow any restrictions on the colour of their dress.
  • Both of them follow the profession of soldiery and are brave without peer in the art of musketry and chakarbazi, and the use of quoits.
  • Nihangs observe the Khalsa code of conduct in its strictest sense.
  • They do not profess any allegiance to an earthly master. Instead of saffron they hoist a blue Nishan Sahib (flag) atop their shrines.

What is their role in history?

  • Nihangs had a major role in defending the Sikh panth after the fall of the first Sikh rule (1710-15) when Mughal governors were killing Sikhs, and during the onslaught of Afghan invader Ahmed Shah Durrani (1748-65).
  • Nihangs also took control of the religious affairs of the Sikhs at Akal Takht in Amritsar.
  • They did not consider themselves subordinate to any Sikh chief and thus maintained their independent existence.
  • At Akal Takht, they held the grand council (Sarbat Khalsa) of Sikhs and pronounced the resolution (Gurmata) passed.
  • During Operation Bluestar in June 1984, some Nihangs, namely Ajit Singh Poohla, collaborated with the Punjab police to eliminate militants.

History- Important places, persons in news

What is Windrush Scandal?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Windrush Generation

Mains level : Windrush Scandal


The British government has apologised for its treatment of Britons of Caribbean origin, which were wrongly detained or deported for being illegal immigrants, after the publication of a devastating official report.

What is the scandal?

  • The Windrush scandal is a 2018 British political scandal concerning people who were wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, and, in at least 83 cases wrongly deported from the UK.
  • Many of those affected had been born British subjects and had arrived in the UK before 1973, particularly from Caribbean countries as members of the “Windrush generation”.
  • As well as those who were wrongly deported, an unknown number were wrongly detained, lost their jobs or homes, or were denied benefits or medical care to which they were entitled.
  • A number of long-term UK residents were wrongly refused re-entry to the UK, and a larger number were threatened with immediate deportation by the Home Office.
  • The scandal also prompted a wider debate about British immigration policy and Home Office practice.

Windrush Generation

  • The Windrush generation is named after one of the many vessels that ferried some half a million people from the Caribbean islands to the U.K. in the late 1940s.
  • The “Empire Windrush” ship had brought one of the first groups of West Indian migrants to the UK in 1948.
  • The generation refers to migrants from the Caribbean Commonwealth who had come to the U.K. at a time when they had the right to remain indefinitely in Britain but had had their rights questioned under a toughened immigration regime.

History- Important places, persons in news

Persons in news: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sheikh Mujib and his legacy

Mains level : NA

March 17 is the birth anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1920-1975), the founding leader of Bangladesh and the country’s first Prime Minister.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1950.jpg

  • Before joining politics, Rahman studied law and political science in Kolkata and Dhaka and agitated for Indian independence.
  • He is referred to as Sheikh Mujib or simply Mujib, the title ‘Bangabandhu’ meaning ‘friend of Bengal’.
  • In 1949, he joined the Awami League, a political party which advocated greater autonomy for East Pakistan.
  • A popular leader in East Pakistan, Rahman played an important role in the six-point movement and the Anti-Ayub movement.

Role in Bangladesh liberation

  • In 1970, his party secured an absolute majority in the Pakistani general elections; the country’s first, winning more seats than all parties in West Pakistan, including Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party.
  • The election results were not honoured; leading to a bloody civil war, and Sheikh Mujib declared Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan on March 26, 1971.
  • The declaration coincided with a ruthless show of strength by the Pakistani military, in which tanks rolled out on the streets of Dhaka and several students and intellectuals were killed.
  • India under then PM Indira Gandhi provided full support to Rahman and Bangladesh’s independence movement, resulting in the creation of a sovereign government at Dhaka in January 1971.

His legacy

  • Rahman, who had been arrested and taken to West Pakistan, returned to Bangladesh after being freed in January 1972.
  • For the next three years, Rahman held the new country’s prime ministerial post, and became a celebrated icon in India as well, admired for his moving speeches and charismatic personality.
  • On 15 August 1975, Rahman was killed in a military coup along with his wife and three sons, including 10-year-old Sheikh Russel.
  • His daughters, the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana, survived as they were abroad at the time.

History- Important places, persons in news

Pyramid of Djoser


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pyramid of Djoser

Mains level : NA



Last week, Egypt reopened the Pyramid of Djoser, the first pyramid ever built, after a 14-year restoration. The structure is believed to be designed by Imhotep, described by some as the first architect of the world.

The Pyramid of Djoser

  • The 4,700-year-old pyramid is 60 metres tall, and consists of six stacked steps over a burial shaft tomb 28 metres deep and seven metres wide.
  • It is located at the Saqqara archaeological site, 24 km southwest of Cairo, outside the royal capital of Memphis. A complex of halls and courts is located around the pyramid.
  • It is the world’s oldest monumental stone building.
  • Today a UNESCO world heritage site, the pyramid was constructed during the era of Pharaoh Djoser, the second king of Ancient Egypt’s Third Dynasty (2650 BC– 2575 BC).
  • The Pharaoh’s 19-year reign saw significant technical innovations in stone architecture.
  • The pyramid’s architect, Imhotep, was also a physician and astrologer, and served as Djoser’s minister.

History- Important places, persons in news

Who were the Marakkars?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Marakkars

Mains level : Various conquests during colonial expansion

The big-budget Malayalam film Marakkar: The Lion of the Arabian Sea is set to be released. It is a war film depicting the heroics of the Marakkar clan, whose leaders were naval chieftains of the Zamorin of Calicut during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Who were the Marakkars?

  • By some accounts, they were of Arab origin and had migrated from Tunisia to Panthalayani near Koyilandy in present-day Kozhikode, and later moved to the region around present-day Kottakkal and Thikkodi near Payyoli.
  • By other accounts, the Marakkars were descendants of affluent businessman from the Cochin kingdom who migrated later to Calicut.
  • Historians say the name ‘Marakkar’ could have originated from maram or marakkalam, meaning ship, as these families lived along the coast and used ships.
  • Alternatively, it could have originated from the Arabic word markaba, meaning those who migrated via ships.
  • The Marakkars were mostly Muslims, but in some parts, they have been found to be Hindus as well.

What was the war against the Portuguese about?

  • The Zamorin, Samoothiri in Malayalam, was the title given to rulers of the Calicut kingdom on the Malabar coast.
  • Faced with invading Portuguese ships, the Zamorin reached out to the Marakkars to defend the coast. The Marakkars fought against Portuguese invaders for nearly a century.
  • They were led in succession by four Marakkars, chief admirals who were appointed by the Zamorin with the title of Kunjali.
  • Related by bloodline, they were Kuttyali Marakkar (Kunjali Marakkar I, appointed in 1507), Kutty Pokker (Kunjali Marakkar II), Pathu Marakkar (Kunjali Marakkar III) and Muhammad Ali Marakkar (Kunjali Marakkar IV, appointed in 1595).
  • Their strategy was similar to guerrilla warfare. The Portuguese had massive ships which could not make easy manoeuvres in the sea.
  • The Marakkars used small ships which could easily surround the Portuguese ships, enabling the fighters to attack at will.

Who is depicted the ‘Lion of the Arabian Sea’?

  • Kunjali Marakkar IV earned his reputation with his fierce onslaught on Portuguese ships, the favours he gave those who fought against the Portuguese, and his efforts to strengthen the fort at Kottakkal.
  • When he took charge in 1595, relations between the Zamorin and the Marakkars were deteriorating.
  • The Zamorin was feeling threatened by Kunjali Marakkar IV’s popularity, and by reports (said to be spread by the Portuguese) that he was planning to create a Muslim empire.
  • In 1597, the Zamorin signed a peace treaty with the Portuguese and attacked Kottakkal fort. For months, the Marakkars resisted the attack by the Zamorin’s Nair soldiers and the Portuguese fleet.
  • Eventually, as Portugal sent more forces and the Zamorin mounted his effort, Marakkar surrendered to the Zamorin on the assurance that their lives would be spared. But the Portuguese violated the terms, arrested him, took him to Goa and beheaded him.

History- Important places, persons in news

Persons in news: Rajkumari Amrit Kaur


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Amrit Kaur

Mains level : Not Much



Former PM Indira Gandhi and freedom fighter Rajkumari Amrit Kaur are mentioned in TIME magazine’s list of the 100 most powerful women who defined the last century in a new project that aims to feature those women who were “often overshadowed”.

Who was Amrit Kaur?

  • Amrit Kaur was the first woman in independent India who joined the Cabinet as the Health Minister and remained in that position for 10 years.
  • Born into the Kapurthala royal family, she was educated in Oxford and returned to India in 1918, and began to be drawn towards the work and teachings of MK Gandhi.

Her contributions

  • Before taking up the position of a Health Minister, Kaur was Mahatma Gandhi’s secretary.
  • During these 10 years, she founded the Indian Council for Child Welfare.
  • She also laid the foundation of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Lady Irwin College in Delhi in the following years.
  • Apart from joining the nationalist freedom struggle, Kaur also began work on a number of other social and political issues such as the purdah system, child marriage and the Devadasi system.
  • She passed away in 1964, at the age of 75.

Role in the freedom struggle

  • In 1936, hoping that more women would join the freedom struggle, Gandhiji invited her.
  • In the following years, as Kaur started interacting with other freedom fighters such as Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Mahatma Gandhi, she gave up her princely comforts and began to discipline herself by responding to the Gandhian call.
  • When the civil disobedience movement took off in the 1930s, Kaur dedicated her life to it.
  • Kaur was jailed after the Quit India movement and carried to the jail a spinning wheel, the Bhagwat Gita and the Bible.
  • Further, while Kaur advocated for equality, she was not in favour of reservations for women and believed that universal adult franchise would open the doors for women to enter into the legislative and administrative institutions of the country.
  • In light of this, she believed that there was no place left for reservation of seats.

History- Important places, persons in news

Biju Patnaik: The flying ace who helped Indian and foreign freedom movements 


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Biju Patnaik

Mains level : Not Much



Recently, 104th birth anniversary of former Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik was celebrated. He was a decorated freedom fighter. PM tweeted an Intelligence Bureau document from 1945 to show how Patnaik bravely lent his flying skills to rescue freedom fighters like Ram Manohar Lohia.

Biju Pattnaik

  • Bijayananda Patnaik (1916-1997), popularly known as Biju Patnaik, was an Indian politician, aviator and businessman. As politician, he served twice as the Chief Minister of the State of Odisha.
  • It is well known that Biju Patnaik actively helped freedom fighters in the 1940s.
  • His daring was evident as he actively joined the Quit India movement in 1942 and collaborated with the underground leaders like Jayaprakash Narayan, Aruna Asif Ali and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, even while in the British service.
  • Patnaik was imprisoned by the British Government for three years later.

Role in foreign freedom struggles

  • As an officer in the Royal Indian Air Force in the early 1940s, Patnaik flew innumerable sorties to rescue British families fleeing the Japanese advance on Rangoon, the capital of Burma.
  • He also dropped arms and supplies to Chinese troops fighting the Japanese and later to the Soviet army struggling against Hitler’s onslaught near Stalingrad.
  • On the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, Patnaik was honoured by the Russians for his help,” the obit noted.
  • Interestingly, Nehru entrusted Patnaik with rescuing Indonesian resistance fighters who were fighting their Dutch colonisers.
  • Accompanied by wife Gyanwati, “the lanky pilot flew an old Dakota aircraft to Singapore en route to Jakarta where the rebels were entrenched” in 1948.
  • Dodging the Dutch guns, he entered Indonesian airspace and landed on an improvised airstrip near Jakarta.
  • Using left-over fuel from abandoned Japanese military dumps, Patnaik took off with prominent rebels, including Sultan Shariyar and Achmad Sukarno, for a secret meeting with Nehru at New Delhi.

History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] India’s nominations for 2020 World Heritage List


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : World Heritage Sites

Mains level : Not Much

Government of India has submitted two nomination dossiers namely ‘Dholavira: A Harappan City’ and ‘Monuments and Forts of Deccan Sultanate’ for inclusion in the World Heritage List for the year 2020.  Govt. of Madhya Pradesh has submitted the proposal of ‘Group of Monuments at Mandu’ in the year 2019.

What are World Heritage Sites?

  • A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area, selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for having cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance, which is legally protected by international treaties.
  • The sites are judged to be important for the collective and preservative interests of humanity.
  • To be selected, a WHS must be an already-classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area).
  • It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.
  • The sites are intended for practical conservation for posterity, which otherwise would be subject to risk from human or animal trespassing, unmonitored/uncontrolled/unrestricted access, or threat from local administrative negligence.
  • The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 “states parties” that are elected by their General Assembly.

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.
  • Recently, its 42nd meeting in 2018 was held in Manama Bahrain.

Also read:





Read more about the Tentative lists from India at:


History- Important places, persons in news

Taj Mahal Complex


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Taj Mahal

Mains level : Conservation of historical monuments

The Taj Mahal complex has been spruced up for the visit of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.

About Taj

  • The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the city of Agra.
  • It was commissioned in 1632 by Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658) to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself.
  • The tomb is the centrepiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.
  • The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (U.S. $827 million).
  • The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.
  • The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”.

Various threats to Taj

  • The Supreme Court had earlier expressed concern over the marble of the Taj changing colour, and asked how the white marble, which had first become yellowish, was now turning brownish and greenish.
  • Firstly, the polluting industries and the vehicular emissions in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) area are a major source of pollution.
  • The second reason is that the Yamuna River, which flows behind the Taj, has become highly polluted.
  • There is no aquatic life in it, and has caused insect and algae infestation on the Taj Mahal and other monuments situated on its banks.

Use of mud packs

  • Increasing pollution in the air over the Gangetic Valley affecting the Taj has been a reason for concern for archaeologists and conservationists for long now.
  • Mud packs were applied on the surface of the monument first in 1994, and then again in 2001, 2008, and, most recently, beginning 2014.
  • Mud packs have been one of the ASI’s favoured ways to remove the yellow stains that have appeared over the years on the Taj Mahal’s white marble facade.
  • The clay is applied in the form of a thick paste that absorbs the grime, grease and bird droppings on the marble, before being washed off using distilled water.
  • The process is slow and tortuous, but is believed to leave the marble cleaner and shinier.
  • The intricate parts are applied with special “multani mitti’ (Fuller’s clay) treatment.

History- Important places, persons in news

In news: 1946 Royal Indian Navy Mutiny


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RIN Mutiny

Mains level : Significance of the Mutiny


Seventy-four years ago on February 18, 1946, some 1,100 Indian sailors or “ratings” of the HMIS Talwar and the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) Signal School in Bombay declared a hunger strike, triggered by the conditions and treatment of Indians in the Navy.

RIN Mutiny

  • A “slow down” the strike was also called, which meant that the ratings would carry out their duties slowly.
  • The morning after February 18, somewhere between 10,000-20,000 sailors joined the strike, as did shore establishments in Karachi, Madras, Calcutta, Mandapam, Visakhapatnam, and the Andaman Islands.
  • One of the triggers for the RIN strike was the arrest of a rating, BC Dutt, who had scrawled “Quit India” on the HMIS Talwar.
  • The day after the strike began, the ratings went around Bombay in lorries, waving the Congress flag, and getting into scraps with Europeans and policemen who tried to confront them.

Their demands

While the immediate trigger was the demand for better food and working conditions, the agitation soon turned into a wider demand for independence from British rule. The protesting sailors demanded:

  • release of all political prisoners including those from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA),
  • action against the commander for ill-treatment and using insulting language,
  • revision of pay and allowances to put RIN employees on a par with their counterparts in the Royal Navy,
  • demobilisation of RIN personnel with provisions for peacetime employment,
  • release of Indian forces stationed in Indonesia, and better treatment of subordinates by their officers

Upsurge of nationalism

  • The RIN strike came at a time when the Indian nationalist sentiment had reached fever pitch across the country.
  • The winter of 1945-46 saw three violent upsurges: in Calcutta in November 1945 over the INA trials; in February 1946, also in Calcutta, over the sentencing of INA officer Rashid Ali; and, in that same month, the ratings’ uprise in Bombay.
  • This chain of events led to the “mounting fever of excitement affecting the whole political climate”.
  • Soon, ordinary people joined the ratings, and life came to a virtual standstill in both Bombay and Calcutta. There were meetings, processions, strikes, and hartals.
  • In Bombay, labourers participated in a general strike called by the Communist Party of India and the Bombay Students’ Union. In many cities across India, students boycotted classes in solidarity.
  • The response of the state was brutal. It is estimated that over 220 people died in police firing, while roughly 1,000 were injured.

Significance of the events

  • The RIN revolt remains a legend today. It was an event that strengthened further the determination among all sections of the Indian people to see the end of British rule.
  • Deep solidarity and amity among religious groups was in evidence, which appeared to run counter to the rapidly spreading atmosphere of commuanal hatred and animosity.
  • However, communal unity was more in the nature of organisational unity than a unity among the two major communities.
  • Within months, India was to be devoured by a terrible communal conflagration.

Final nail in the coffin

  • This revolt was different from the other revolts in the sense that, after 1857 it was the first time that the British realized that the Royal Indian forces were no more obedient to the British commands and were in concurrence with the overall defiant nationalist sentiments prevailing in the entire country.
  • Mutinies are usually confined to a particular station, establishment or ship. However, this was the first instance when the entire service joined the revolt.
  • Most striking feature was that it was directed against the British government and not against superior officers – not a single officer, British or Indian, was harmed.
  • Fearless action by the masses was an expression of militancy in the popular mind. Revolt in the armed forces had a great liberating effect on the minds of people.
  • It displayed that the armed forces no longer obeyed the British authority rather it was the nationalist leaders who held sway over them. The RIN revolt was seen as an event marking the end of British rule.


  • The leaders realized that any mass uprising would inevitably carry the risk of not being amenable to centralized direction and control. Besides, now that independence and power were in sight, they were eager not to encourage indiscipline in the armed forces.
  • It was immediately after this revolt that PM Atlee dispatched the Cabinet Mission to India, so it is also inferred that the mutiny hastened the process of transfer of power to India.
  • It is also important to mention that the revolt came to an end after the nationalist leaders, Sardar Patel and Mohammad Ali Jinnah on receiving a request to intervene by the British, issued a statement calling upon the mutineers to surrender.

History- Important places, persons in news

Battle of Çanakkale/Gallipoli


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Battle of Çanakkale/Gallipoli

Mains level : Paper 1: World History

India issued a strong demarche to Turkey over its outspoken President Erdogan’s comments in Pakistan. Erdogan has criticised India’s policy in Jammu and Kashmir and compared it with that of Turkey during World War I.

Gallipoli campaign

  • The Battle of Çanakkale, also known as the Gallipoli campaign or the Dardanelles campaign, is considered to be one of the bloodiest of World War I, during which the Ottoman army faced off against the Allied forces, leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides.
  • In March 1915, with the war in Europe stalemated in the trenches, Winston Churchill, then Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty, devised a plan to take control of the Dardanelles.
  • The plan was to capture strategic strait connecting the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, and thus reach Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) at the mouth of the Bosporus.
  • By taking Constantinople, the Allies hoped to break the Turks, who had recently entered the war on the side of Germany.

The massacre

  • The Allies carried out a heavy naval bombardment of Turkish forts along the shores of the Dardanelles, and when that failed, followed up with what was the biggest amphibious landing in military history at the time.
  • However, what the British and their allies had hoped would be the turning point in the war ended up as a catastrophe.
  • In the nine months upto January 1916, when the Allies called off the campaign and evacuated, more than 40,000 British soldiers had been killed, along with 8,000 Australians. On the Turkish side, some 60,000 had perished.

Legacy of the battle

  • The battle resulted in a demotion for Churchill and the emergence on the Turkish side of the young military hero, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
  • But the legacy of Gallipoli goes far beyond its military aspects — the event is today one of the central pillars of the modern Turkish identity.
  • The campaign is also seen to have seeded Australian and New Zealand national consciousness — April 25, the anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, is observed as ANZAC Day, the day of national remembrance for the war dead.

History- Important places, persons in news

Erstwhile State of Rampur


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : State of Rampur

Mains level : Post independence consolidation and reorganization

Erstwhile royals of the state of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh are fighting over the assets and legacy of Nawab Raza Ali Khan, who acceded to the Indian Union at the time of Independence.  The Supreme Court ended India’s longest-running civil dispute last year, and the process of evaluating the inheritance is currently ongoing.

The state of Rampur

  • The state of Rampur was founded by Nawab Ali Muhammad Khan, the adopted son of Sardar Daud Khan, the chief of the Rohillas in Northern India.
  • The Rohillas were Afghans who entered India in the 18th century as the Mughal Empire was in decline, and took control of Rohilkhand, at the time known as Katehr.
  • In 1737, Nawab Muhammad Khan received the territory of Katehr from Emperor Muhammad Shah, only to lose everything to Nawab Wazir of Oudh in 1746.
  • Two years later, he assisted Ahmad Shah Durrani in his conquest of India, recovering all his former possessions.
  • Over the next two centuries the Rampur royals, earlier a warring clan, struck deep roots, and with the blessings of the British, began to build one of the richest principalities in the country.

Patrons of the arts, culture

  • The Rampur royals have played an important role in the socio-cultural history of the Ganga-Yamuna belt.
  • They run the Amir Raza library in Rampur, once known as the official darbar of the Nawab, which is home to some 15,000 manuscripts in Arabic, Urdu, Persian and Turkish, as well as a seventh-century Quran.
  • The library also houses 2,500 specimens of Islamic calligraphy, 5,000 miniature paintings, and 60,000 printed books, besides the extremely rare Persian translation of Valmiki’s Ramayana, which is believed to have been Emperor Aurangzeb’s personal copy.
  • In the 19th century, the royals established courts of law and a standing army, and built irrigation works. In the 20th century, they set up sugar and textile mills.
  • Many Hindus were employed in senior administrative positions in the state. Nawab Raza Ali Khan was known to have written poetry in Bhojpuri for Holi.
  • The Rampur court was also a great patron of the arts, and is known to have patronised Ghalib and Begum Akhtar, as well as the tabla player Ahmad Jan Thirakwa, sarangi player Bundu Khan, sarod player Fida Hussein Khan, been player Wazir Khan, and the kathak dancers Acchan Maharaj and Kalka Prasad.

After Independence

  • Rampur, under Nawab Raza Ali, was the first kingdom to accede to India in 1949, becoming the only Muslim-majority district in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Soon after accession, the Nawab handed over the official royal residence, the Rampur Qila or Fort, built in 1775, to the Indian government, along with several other properties.
  • In return, the Indian government bestowed two key rights to the Nawab — he was granted full ownership of the properties, and guaranteed succession to the gaddi or rulership of the state based on customary law, which gave exclusive property rights to the eldest son.
  • When Raza Ali Khan died in 1966, he had three wives, three sons, and six daughters.
  • His eldest son Murtaza Ali Khan succeeded him as head of the state, as per custom.
  • The government recognised him as the sole inheritor of all his father’s private properties and issued a certificate to this effect. But his brother challenged this in the civil court.

History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Dara Shikoh


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dara Shikoh and his legacy

Mains level : Secular trends in Mughal Administration


The Ministry of Culture recently set up a panel of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to locate the grave of the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh (1615-59) nearby Humayun’s Tomb complex in Delhi.

Dara Shikoh’s legacy

  • The eldest son of Shah Jahan, Dara Shikoh was killed after losing the war of succession against his brother Aurangzeb.
  • Dara Shikoh is described as a “liberal Muslim” who tried to find commonalities between Hindu and Islamic traditions.
  • He translated into Persian the Bhagavad Gita as well as 52 Upanishads.

Antithesis to Aurangzeb

  • Some historians argue that if Dara Shikoh had ascended the Mughal throne instead of Aurangzeb, it could have saved thousands of lives lost in religious clashes.
  • Dara Shukoh was the total antithesis of Aurangzeb, in that he was deeply syncretic, warm-hearted and generous — but at the same time, he was also an indifferent administrator and ineffectual in the field of battle.

The remains of Dara Shikoh

  • According to the Shahjahannama, after Aurangzeb defeated Dara Shikoh, he brought the latter to Delhi in chains.
  • His head was cut off and sent to Agra Fort, while his torso was buried in the Humayun’s Tomb complex.
  • Italian traveller Niccolao Manucci gave a graphic description of the day in Travels of Manucci, as he was there as a witness to the whole thing. That is the basis of the thesis.

History- Important places, persons in news

Conservation plan for Konark Sun Temple


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Konark Sun Temple

Mains level : Temple architecture of India

A plan to restore and preserve the nearly 800-year-old Konark Sun Temple in Odisha would be drawn up soon. Among the potential choices before the government would be to fill in more sand or to remove all the sand andput in place alternate support.

Konark Sun Temple

  • Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century CE Sun temple at Konark about 36 kilometres northeast from Puri on the coastline of Odisha, India.
  • The temple is attributed to king Narasinga Deva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty about 1250 CE.
  • Dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya, what remains of the temple complex has the appearance of a 100-foot (30 m) high chariot with immense wheels and horses, all carved from stone.
  • Once over 200 feet (61 m) high, much of the temple is now in ruins, in particular the large shikara tower over the sanctuary; at one time this rose much higher than the mandapa that remains.
  • The structures and elements that have survived are famed for their intricate artwork, iconography, and themes, including erotic kama and mithuna scenes.
  • Also called the Surya Devalaya, it is a classic illustration of the Odisha style of Architecture or Kalinga Architecture.
  • Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984 it remains a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, who gather here every year for the Chandrabhaga Mela around the month of February.

Earlier restoration efforts

  • It had been filled with sand and sealed by the British authorities in 1903 in order to stabilize the structure, a/c to ASI.
  • A scientific study was carried out by the Roorkee-based Central Building Research Institute from 2013 till 2018 to ascertain the temple’s structural stability as well as the status of the filled-in sand.
  • The sand filled in over 100 years ago had settled, leading to a gap of about 17 feet.  However the structure was found to be stable.

History- Important places, persons in news

Kumbhabishegam at Brahadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Brahadeeswarar Temple

Mains level : Temple Architecture


  • Tens of thousands of pilgrims thronged Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu’s Cauvery delta to witness the Kumbhabishegam (consecration) ceremony at the Sri Brahadeeswarar Temple.
  • This enormously significant event was held after 23 years — and after the Madras High Court had settled an old argument over the ritual purification process only five days previously.
  • The judgment delivered by the Madurai Bench of the court addressed the struggle for supremacy between the Sanskrit and Tamil traditions.

Sri Brahadeeswarar Temple and Kumbhabishegam ceremony

  • The Sri Brahadeeswarar Temple (also spelt Brihadisvara, and called Peruvudaiyar Koyil, which translates simply to ‘Big Temple’) is the most famous of the many temples in Thanjavur.
  • The temple, one of the world’s largest and grandest, was built between 1003 AD and 1010 AD by the great Chola emperor Raja Raja I (c. 985-1014 AD).

Before the High Court

  • The court, in a dispute over which language should be used in the slokas at the kumbhabishegam, agreed with the state government’s affidavit that the ceremony should be in both Sanskrit and Tamil.
  • The Temple committee had demanded that the Kumbhabishegam should be held only in Tamil.
  • The court ruled the choice to be vested with the devotees to seek for their archanas to be performed at their wishes by chanting the manthras either in Tamil or in Sanskrit.

History- Important places, persons in news

Poets quoted in Budget Speech


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Not Much

Finance Minister has quoted four poets in her Budget speech: Pt. Dinanath Nadim, Avvaiyar, Thiruvalluvar and Kalidas, a sweep from Tamil Nadu to Kashmir, from ancient to contenporary India.

Dinanath Nadim

  • The Kashmiri nationalist poet Dinanath Nadim was at the centre of Kashmir’s progressive movement, especially in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
  • Nadim was born in 1916, and passed away in 1988. Nadim wrote in Kashmiri, Hindi and Urdu, and inspired a powerful tradition of Kashmiri poetry.
  • Nadim received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1986 for his opera Shuhul Kull (The Shady Tree).
  • Among his other well known works are Vitasta (Jhelum River), Safar Taa Shehjaar (The Journey And The Shade), Heemaal Taa Naaegrai (Heemaal and Naagraaj), and Bombur Taa Yamberzal (The Bumble Bee And The Narcissus Flower).


  • Avvaiyar translates to “Respected Woman”, and the title was used by several woman poets who contributed to Tamil literature during different periods of time.
  • In the Budget’s section on “Aspirational India”, Sitharaman said, “Our government shall encourage balanced use of all kinds of fertilizers including the traditional organic and other innovative fertilizers.
  • This is a necessary step to change the prevailing incentive regime, which encourages excessive use of chemical fertilisers.”
  • She quoted from Aaathichoodi’s verse 81 which translate to “first tend to till one’s land and then eat. One must eat only after work.”


  • Thiruvalluvar is fondly referred to as Valluvar by Tamils. His ‘Tirukkural’, a collection of 1,330 couplets (‘kurals’ in Tamil), are an essential part of every Tamil household.
  • It holds importance in the same way the Bhagavad Gita or the Ramayana are in traditional North Indian Hindu households.
  • He is an essential anchor for Tamils in tracing their cultural roots; Tamils are taught to learn his couplets word-for-word, and to follow his teachings in their day-to-day living.
  • FM quoted Thiruvalluvar: “Pini Inmai Selvam Vilaivu Inbam Emam Ani Enba”, which loosely translates to having the “five jewels” required for a country that is without illness, with wealth, with good crops, with happiness, as well as safety and security.


  • Kalidas, the legendary Sanskrit scholar, is believed to have lived during the middle of the fourth and early fifth centuries AD, during the reigns of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya and Kumaragupta.
  • Raghuvamsa, from which FM quoted, is one of two long epic poems written by Kalidas.
  • She mentioned the 18th verse: “Surya, the Sun, collects vapour from little drops of water. So does the King. They give back copiously. They collect only for people’s wellbeing.”

History- Important places, persons in news

Liberation of Auschwitz


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Liberation of Auschwitz


  • Yesterday on January 27th survivors of the Holocaust and international heads of state marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
  • During the Second World War, the government of Nazi Germany killed approximately 17 million people across Europe in half a dozen camps specifically designated for killings.
  • Of these seven killing centers, the camp at Auschwitz, perhaps the most well known, was the largest in size.

Why is January 27 an important date in Holocaust history?

  • During the final stages of the Second World War, months before the fall of Nazi Germany, Nazi officials began forcibly moving prisoners between the camps spread across Europe.
  • Called ‘Death Marches’, this forcible displacement on foot over long distances in the bitter cold, with little to no food resulted in many deaths.
  • Some researchers believe that prisoners were moved from camps to prevent the liberation of prisoners held inside these camps and to also remove evidence of crimes against humanity perpetrated by Nazi officials.
  • Prisoners who were very ill and disabled were left to die in the abandoned camps.

Rescue of Auschwitz

  • Allied forces advanced from the West while soldiers belonging to the Red Army of the Soviet Union began entering concentration camps and killing centers across Europe, liberating survivors.
  • The first camp that the Red Army soldiers liberated was the Majdanek camp in Poland in July 1944.
  • The Army entered Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, finding hundreds of sick, starving and exhausted prisoners, who had somehow survived.
  • In 2005, the UN-designated January 27 as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

What occurred during the liberation of Auschwitz?

  • Along with surviving prisoners, the Red Army also found hordes of items belonging to the prisoners that had been stripped from them by Nazi officials when they first arrived at Auschwitz.
  • The prisoners were so weak after having been starved for prolonged periods of time, that despite medical intervention, many died days after their rescue.
  • Several soldiers in the Red Army and in the Allied troops later gave testimonies concerning the sights that awaited them when they first entered the camps in Auschwitz and elsewhere.
  • Although Nazi officials had destroyed many warehouses and crematoria where property looted from prisoners had been stored and where bodies had been disposed, liberating troops still found evidence of the crimes and brutality perpetrated against the prisoners.

What made Auschwitz unique?

  • Historical records show that despite attempts by Nazi officials to obliterate prisoners, particularly those at Auschwitz, there were survivors who lived to provide testimony against Nazi officials.
  • Several factors set Auschwitz apart from other camps across Europe.
  • The camp at Auschwitz had originally been built to hold Polish political prisoners but by March 1942, it became one of the main centres for the Nazi’s Final Solution to the Jewish Question.

Aftermath of the Holocaust

  • Trials were held against Nazi officers and people who worked inside the camps in various capacities and perpetrated crimes against humanity in the camps of Auschwitz and elsewhere in Europe.
  • These individuals included both men and women, many who escaped accountability for their crimes after the fall of Nazi Germany.
  • To evade justice, many SS officers changed their identities and escaped to other parts of Europe, the US and to other parts of the world.
  • The camps at Auschwitz have become an important reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust and in 1947 the government of Poland made the site a state memorial.
  • In 1979, UNESCO added the Auschwitz memorial to its list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

History- Important places, persons in news

Operation Alberich


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Operation Alberich

Mains level : Treaty of Versailles and WWI

The recently released ‘1917’ movie tells the story of two British soldiers during the WWI in Operation Alberich, the strategic retreat in which their troops were taken back to the Hindenburg Line in 1917.

What was Operation Alberich?

  • Operation Alberich is considered among Germany’s most important operations on the Western Front in 1917, as well as one of its most extreme due to the ‘scorched earth’ policy employed.
  • In World War I (1914-18), the Allied Powers — principally France, the British Empire, Russia, Italy, Japan, and the US (after 1917) — fought and defeated the Central Powers — mainly Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey.
  • The war caused destruction and suffering on unprecedented levels, and only led to a bigger conflict, World War II, two decades later in 1939.
  • The war manoeuvre involved the systematic destruction of 1,500 square kilometres of French territory by the German army after it decided to retreat to a newly constructed defence line.
  • The German army leadership had decided that the war must shift temporarily to the shorter and more easily defensible Hindenburg Line. The Operation took place in February and March 1917.

Course of action

  • The shortening of the war front was drastic, and is considered the war’s biggest military construction project.
  • The planning for the approximately 130-km Hindenburg Line began in September 1916, and much of it was completed in four months from October — using 5,00,000 tonnes of rocks and gravel, over 1,00,000 tonnes of cement, and 12,500 tonnes of barbed wire.
  • The scorched earth policy, which laid to waste entire villages, roads, and bridges, was meant to destroy anything that the Allies could find useful.
  • The Operation saw the complete evacuation of the area’s civilian population.


  • The move is regarded as a tactical success for the Germans, as it took the Allies by surprise and delayed their advance, but is criticised for the disproportionate destruction that it caused.
  • It is considered a propaganda disaster for Germany, and was presented by the Allies as an example of “Hun barbarism”.
  • At the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed after the war, the Allies used Alberich to legitimize their claims for punitive reparations from Germany.

History- Important places, persons in news

Persons in news: Warren Hastings and his Impeachment Case


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Warren Hastings

Mains level : Read the attached story

Donald Trump’s impeachment trial started in the US Senate. A precedent being discussed is that of the Warren Hastings case — the famous failed attempt by the British Parliament to impeach India’s first governor-general.

Warren Hastings

  • Warren Hastings, the first governor-general of Bengal (and the first de facto Governor-General of India), is considered among the most significant colonial administrators to have ruled India.
  • First as the governor of Bengal (1772-1774) and then as Governor-General (1774-1785), Hastings strengthened British rule in India and made profound changes in administration.
  • Hastings’s conduct while in office was called into question after he returned to Britain in 1785, most prominently by Edmund Burke, the noted British parliamentarian and philosopher.

What was his impeachment case?

  • In 1786, impeachment proceedings were initiated against Hastings, probing his alleged mismanagement, mistreatment of natives, and personal corruption while in India.
  • William Pitt, the then British Prime Minister, first defended Hastings, but then joined the chorus against him.
  • Hastings’s argued that ‘Western’ standards of legality could not be applied in the East.
  • But Burke insisted that under the Law of Nature, people in India were entitled to the same protection as those in Britain.
  • In 1795, however, the House of Lords acquitted Hastings, and the impeachment failed.
  • Burke warned that such a verdict would live in “perpetual infamy”, and the trial gave rise to a wider debate on the role of the East India Company in India.


Warren Hastings and his major works

From 1772, Warren Hastings served as Governor-General of Fort Williams and the regulating act was passed after his arrival.

Important events under his rule :


  • Hastings abolished the Dual System that had been established by Robert Clive. In the Dual System, the company had Diwani rights (rights to collect revenue) and the Nizam or Indian chiefs had the administrative authority.
  • The judicial powers of the Zamindars were abolished. Civil and criminal courts were established. Two appellate courts were established at Calcutta, one for civil (Sadar Diwani Adalat) and one for criminal (Sadar Nizamat Adalat) cases.
  • Hastings abolished the system of dastaks which were misused by company officials and traders earlier.
  • He implemented several reforms in all walks of administration. The Regulating Act 1773 and Pitts India Act, 1784 were important acts passed during his tenure.



History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Swami Vivekananda


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Swami Vivekananda

Mains level : Swami Vivekananda and his philosophy

January 12 is the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the famous spiritual leader and intellectual from the late 19th century. In his honour, the government of India in 1984 declared his birthday as National Youth Day.

Swami Vivekananda early life

  • Vivekananda was born in Kolkata on January 12, 1863, as Narendra Nath Datta.
  • From an early age, he nurtured an interest in Western philosophy, history, and theology, and went on to meet the religious leader Ramakrishna Paramhansa, who later became his Guru.
  • He remained devoted to Ramakrishna until the latter’s death in 1886.
  • In 1893, he took the name ‘Vivekananda’ after Maharaja Ajit Singh of the Khetri State requested him to do so, changing from ‘Sachidananda’ that he used before.
  • After Ramakrishna’s death, Vivekananda toured across India, and set after educating the masses about ways to improve their economic condition as well as imparting spiritual knowledge.

The Chicago address

  • Vivekananda is especially remembered around the world for his speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.
  • The speech covered topics including universal acceptance, tolerance and religion, and got him a standing ovation.
  • He began delivering lectures at various places in the US and UK, and became popular as the ‘messenger of Indian wisdom to the Western world’.

Return to India

  • After coming back to India, he formed the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897 “to set in motion a machinery which will bring noblest ideas to the doorstep of even the poorest and the meanest.”
  • In 1899, he established the Belur Math, which became his permanent abode.

His legacy

  • Through his speeches and lectures, Vivekananda worked to disseminate his religious thought.
  • He preached ‘neo-Vedanta’, an interpretation of Hinduism through a Western lens, and believed in combining spirituality with material progress.
  • ‘Raja Yoga’, ‘Jnana Yoga’, ‘Karma Yoga’ are some of the books he wrote.
  • An important religious reformer in India, Swami Vivekananda is known to have introduced the Hindu philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta to the West.
  • Subhas Chandra Bose had called Vivekananda the “maker of modern India.”

History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Manilal Doctor


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Manilal Doctor

Mains level : Indentured labour system in colonial period

An associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Manilal Doctor is known for his efforts towards helping abolish the indentured labour system that Indian immigrants in many parts of the British Empire were subjected to. He fought for the rights of Indian-origin people in Mauritius and Fiji.

The indentured labour system

  • In 1833, the British Parliament banned slavery, and the practice became illegal throughout the Empire. However, to maintain the supply of labour in their territories, colonial authorities effectively replaced slavery with the indentured labour system.
  • The ‘indenture’ (meaning contract) system required Indians to sign a legal agreement stating their consent to move abroad for a minimum of five years to work mainly on sugar estates.
  • Many were lured to distant lands, such as the Caribbean, South Africa, Réunion, Mauritius, Malaysia, and Fiji, where they ended up living in miserable conditions.
  • In the mid 19th century, over 35 lakh Indians were transported to British, French, and Dutch colonies around the world. The system was officially banned in 1917.

Manilal Doctor

  • Born in 1881 in Vadodara, Doctor studied law in Bombay before travelling to Britain in 1905 for further studies.
  • He became a member of the Indian Home Rule Society in London, and wrote in the monthly ‘Indian Sociologist’.
  • In 1906, Doctor met Gandhi, who at the time was in London to meet imperial authorities on behalf of South Africa’s Indian origin people.
  • During the meeting, Gandhi asked Doctor to move to Mauritius to assist the Indian community there in their struggle for equal rights. Doctor arrived in Mauritius the following year.

In Mauritius (1907-1911)

  • Doctor organised the Indian community in the island colony, which consisted of indentured and non-indentured workers, and advocated for the abolition of discriminatory laws.
  • He practised law at the Supreme Court in St Louis, and provided free legal service to bonded workers in need.
  • Doctor visited plantations across the island and met indentured labourers, making them aware of their rights and encouraged them to agitate.
  • He founded ‘The Hindustani’ newspaper in Mauritius, which had the motto “Liberty of Individuals! Fraternity of Men!!! Equality of Race!!!”
  • Doctor also helped establish the Arya Samaj in Mauritius. He returned to India in 1911.

Next, Fiji (1912-1920)

  • In 1912, Gandhi deputed Doctor to the Fiji Colony with the same objective. Like in Mauritius, Doctor emerged as the leader of the Indian community in Fiji in the coming years.
  • In Fiji, Doctor started ‘The Indian Settler’ newspaper, and helped set up the Indian Imperial Association. Here too, he helped establish the Arya Samaj.
  • In 1920, Doctor organised a major strike, which rattled colonial authorities.
  • The imperial administration had Doctor deported to New Zealand, where he remained under surveillance and was barred from practising.
  • In 1922, Doctor was able to move to Gaya in Bihar, where he could practise law. He later practised for many years in Aden, also then a British colony, and died in Bombay in 1956.

History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Revolutionary Ashfaqullah Khan


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : HSRA

Mains level : HSRA and its revolutionary activities

The Uttar Pradesh cabinet has approved a proposal for a zoological garden spread across 121 acres in Gorakhpur, to be named after the freedom fighter and revolutionary Ashfaqullah Khan.

Ashfaqullah Khan

  • Khan was a freedom fighter who, along with Ram Prasad Bismil, was sentenced to death for the Kakori train robbery, commonly referred to as the Kakori conspiracy of 1925.
  • He was born on October 22, 1900, in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
  • He grew up at a time when Mahatma Gandhi had launched the non-cooperation movement and urged Indians not to pay taxes to the government or co-operate with the British.

Moved by NCM withdrawal

  • Within about 1.5 years of the movement’s launch, in February 1922, the Chauri Chaura incident took place in Gorakhpur — a large number of non-cooperation protestors clashed with the police and set the police station on fire, killing roughly 22 policemen.
  • Opposed to violence, Gandhi called off the movement.
  • The youth of the country were greatly disappointed and disillusioned with this. Khan was one among these youths.
  • Subsequently, he joined the revolutionaries and became acquainted with Bismil.

Ashfaqullah Khan and the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association

  • In the mid-1920s, Khan and Bismil went on to found the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA), with the aim of winning freedom for the country through an armed revolution.
  • HSRA published its manifesto titled “The Revolutionary” in 1925.
  • It held that the immediate object of the revolutionary party in the domain of politics is to establish a federal Republic of United State of India by an organized and armed revolution.
  • The final constitution of this Republic shall be framed and declared at a time when the representatives of India shall have the power to carry out their decision.
  • But the basic principles of this Republic will be universal suffrage and abolition of all system which make the exploitation of man by man possible, e.g. the railways, the mines and other industries such as the manufacture of steel and ships all these shall be nationalised.

The Kakori Conspiracy

  • In August 1925, an armed robbery took place on board the Kakori Express, going from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow, carrying money that had been collected at various railway stations and was to be deposited in Lucknow.
  • In this planned robbery, carried out to fund the activities of the HSRA, Bismil, Khan and over 10 other revolutionaries stopped the train and fled with the cash they found in it.
  • Within a month of the robbery, many members of the HSRA were arrested.
  • In September 1926, Bismil was arrested however Khan was on the run and was later arrested.
  • The trial for the case went on for about 1.5 years. It ended in April 1927, with Bismil, Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and Roshan Singh sentenced to death, and the others given life sentences.

History- Important places, persons in news

Places in news: Nankana Sahib


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nankana Sahib

Mains level : Significance of Nankana Sahib in Sikhism

Recently tension mounted in Pakistan after few goons vandalized the Nankana Sahib Gurdwara.

Nankana Sahib

  • Nankana Sahib is a city of 80,000 in Pakistan’s Punjab province, where Gurdwara Janam Asthan (also called Nankana Sahib Gurdwara) is located.
  • The shrine is built over the site where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was believed to be born in 1469.
  • It was constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, after he visited Nankana Sahib in 1818-19 while returning from the Battle of Multan.
  • It is 75 kms to the west of Lahore, and is the capital of Nankana Sahib district.
  • The city was previously known as Talwandi, and was founded by Rai Bhoi, a wealthy landlord.
  • Rai Bhoi’s grandson, Rai Bular Bhatti, renamed the town ‘Nankana Sahib’ in honour of the Guru. ‘Sahib’ is an Arabic-origin epithet of respect.

Historical significance

  • During British rule, the Gurdwara Janam Asthan was the site of a violent episode when in 1921, over 130 Akali Sikhs were killed after they were attacked by the Mahant of the shrine.
  • The incident is regarded as one of the key milestones in the Gurdwara Reform Movement, which led to the passing of the Sikh Gurdwara Act in 1925 that ended the Mahant control of Gurdwaras.
  • In 2014, Pakistan had a memorial for the massacre built.

History- Important places, persons in news

In news: Partition of Bengal


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Partition of Bengal

Mains level : Partition of Bengal and its significance

West Bengal Governor drew widespread condemnation over his tweet referring to a table, apparently used by Lord Curzon to sign papers pertaining to the Partition of Bengal in 1905, as “iconic”.

Who was Lord Curzon?

  • Curzon, India’s Viceroy between 1899 and 1905, was one of the most controversial and consequential holders of that post.
  • The partition of the undivided Bengal Presidency in 1905 was one of his most criticised moves, which triggered widespread opposition not only in Bengal but across India, and gave impetus to the freedom movement.
  • Curzon was deeply racist, and convinced of Britain’s “civilizing mission” in India.
  • In 1901, he described Indians as having “extraordinary inferiority in character, honesty and capacity”.
  • He was deeply intolerant of Indian political aspirations.

The Partition of Bengal

  • In July 1905, Curzon announced the partition of the undivided Bengal Presidency.
  • The Presidency was the most populous province in India, with around 8 crore people, and comprised the present-day states of West Bengal, Bihar, parts of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Assam, as well as today’s Bangladesh.
  • A new province of East Bengal and Assam was announced, with a population of 3.1 crore, and a Muslim-Hindu ratio of 3:2. Bengal, the western province, was overwhelmingly Hindu.
  • While the move was ostensibly aimed at making the administration of the large region easier, Curzon’s real intentions were far less benign.

Aftermath of the partition

  • The partition provoked great resentment and hostility in Bengal.
  • It was clear to the Bengal Congress and patriotic Indians in both Bengal and elsewhere that Curzon’s motive was to crush the increasingly loud political voices of the literate class in the province, and to provoke religious strife and opposition against them.
  • But the protests against the partition did not remain confined to this class alone.
  • A campaign to boycott British goods, especially textiles, and promote swadeshi began.
  • There were marches and demonstrations with the protesters singing Bande Mataram to underline their patriotism and challenge the colonialists.
  • Samitis emerged throughout Bengal, with several thousand volunteers.
  • Rabindranath Tagore led the marches at many places, and composed many patriotic songs, most famously ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’ (My Golden Bengal), which is now the national anthem of Bangladesh.
  • The message of patriotism and Bengali nationalism was showcased in Jatras, or popular theatre.

Scrapping of the partition

  • Curzon left for Britain in 1905, but the agitation continued for many years.
  • Partition was finally reversed in 1911 by Lord Hardinge in the face of unrelenting opposition.

History- Important places, persons in news

Andaman and Nicobar Islands


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : INA's connection with A&N

Mains level : INA and India's govt. in exile

On December 29, 1943, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose arrived in Port Blair and renamed the Islands.

INA’s seize of the Islands

  • The Islands were under Japanese occupation during World War II for three years (1942-45), and were formally handed over to Bose’s Azad Hind government on this day, although effective control remained with Japan.
  • The islands were first controlled by the Dutch, then by the British, and were taken over by the advancing Japanese military during World War II.
  • Bose, who had allied with the Japanese during the War, declared at a public meeting in August 1943 that the Azad Hind Fauj would be on Indian soil before the end of that year.
  • On October 24, Bose reiterated his promise before a gathering of 50,000 Indians in Singapore, where he said he would be “on the holy soil of India before the end of this year”.


  • The Azad Hind government was able to obtain de jure control of the islands from the Japanese by the end of 1943, and Bose arrived in Port Blair on December 29.
  • Before his departure, he renamed Andaman as Shaheed (“Martyrs”) Island, and Nicobar as Swaraj (“Freedom”) Island.”

History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Swami Shraddhanand  and Arya Samaj


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Arya Samaj

Mains level : Socio-cultural movements during colonial period

The newscard talks about Swami Shraddhanand, a missionary of Arya Samaj who was assassinated on December 23, 1926 in a communal tension.

Who was Swami Shraddhanand?

  • Shraddhanand was born on February 22, 1856 at village Talwan in Jalandhar district in Punjab province.
  • He was a close associate of Swami Dayanand, the founder of the Arya Samaj
  • He was harsh on then prevailing social inequality in Indian society particularly untouchability which he termed as a “curse” and a “blot” on the reputations of the Hindus.
  • He had stood in the pulpit of the great Jama Masjid of Delhi and preached to a mighty gathering of Muslims and Hindus of unity and India’s freedom.


Arya Samaj

  • Arya Samaj is a Hindu reform movement that was founded by Dayanand Saraswati in 1875 in Bombay.
  • The movement believes in the infallible authority of the Vedas.
  • According to the website of Arya Samaj Houston, the central objectives of Arya Samaj is to, “eradicate Ignorance (Agyan), Indigence or Poverty (Abhav) and Injustice (Anayay) from this earth. This mission is enshrined in the ten Niyams or Principles.”

History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pt. Malaviya

Mains level : Pt. Malaviya and his contributions

December 25 is the birth anniversary of Madan Mohan Malaviya the famed Indian educationist and freedom fighter who is also called ‘Mahamana’.

Madan Mohan Malaviya

  • Born in Allahabad, Malaviya took early education under the ‘pathshala’ system, and was proficient in Sanskrit.
  • In 1879, he graduated from the Muir Central College (today’s Allahabad University) and started working as a teacher at a local high school.

Malaviya and INC

  • Drawn to politics, Malaviya joined the Indian National Congress at its Calcutta session in 1886 — it had been founded a year previously at the Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College in Mumbai.
  • He one of the torchbearers of the freedom struggle — acting as a bridge between the Moderates and the Extremists in the Congress.
  • Malaviya rose up the ranks, and became president four times — in 1909 (Lahore), in 1918 (Delhi), in 1930 (Delhi), and in 1932 (Calcutta). Malaviya was part of the Congress for almost 50 years.

His legacy

  • Malaviya was one of the early leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha, and helped found it in 1906.
  • He was a social reformer and a successful legislator, serving as a member of the Imperial Legislative Council for 11 years (1909–20).
  • At the BHU, which he founded in 1916, he served as Vice-Chancellor from 1919 to 1938.
  • Malaviya espoused free and compulsory primary education, opposed the system of indentured labour in the British Empire, and supported the nationalization of railways.
  • In the freedom struggle, Malaviya was midway between the Liberals and the Nationalists, the Moderates and the Extremists, as the followers of Gokhale and Tilak were respectively called.
  • In 1930, when Mahatma Gandhi launched the Salt Satyagraha and the Civil Disobedience Movement, he participated in it and courted arrest.

Recent honors

  • In 2015, the government bestowed Malaviya with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, 68 years after his death.
  • In 2016, the Indian Railways started the Varanasi-New Delhi Mahamana Express in the leader’s honour.

History- Important places, persons in news

[op-ed snap] Periyar, the hero of Vaikom


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Periyar; Vaikom

Mains level : Vaikom Satyagraha


Vaikom is associated with the name of the great Malayalam writer, Muhammad Basheer and also with an important satyagraha during the freedom struggle. In Tamil Nadu, it conjures up the figure of Periyar E.V. Ramasamy.


    • Social Justice – Vaikom is a metaphor for social justice — when scores of satyagrahis from the Tamil country joined hands with their brethren in a heroic struggle.
    • Temple entry – It was in the princely state of Travancore. The four streets surrounding the temple of the presiding deity were out of bounds for Ezhavas and other castes counted as ritually lower. 
    • T K Madhavan – In 1924, a satyagraha was launched against this injustice by T.K. Madhavan. In the initial stages, K.P. Kesava Menon and George Joseph led the struggle. Other prominent figures included Kurur Neelakanthan Namboodiri and Mannathu Padmanabhan. Towards the end, M.K. Gandhi reached Vaikom and gave it the finishing flourish.

Leadership at a critical juncture

    • The satyagraha began with the active support of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee.
    • Within a week all its leaders were behind bars. George Joseph sought directions from Gandhi and C. Rajagopalachari. He also wrote to Periyar pleading with him to lead the satyagraha.
    • Periyar was in the midst of political work. As he was then the president of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, Periyar handed over temporary charge to Rajaji before reaching Vaikom in 1924. 
    • From that date to the day of the victory celebrations in 1925, he was in the struggle giving it leadership at a critical juncture.

Periyar’s role

    • Against violence – Periyar presided over the satyagraha in the face of violence and indignity inflicted by the orthodox and the repression of the police. 
    • Mobilising – To mobilise support, he visited villages in and around Vaikom and delivered public speeches in several towns.
    • Gandhi – When the Kerala leaders asked for Gandhi’s permission to make the satyagraha an all-India affair, Gandhi refused saying that volunteers from Tamil Nadu would keep it alive. 
    • In reportsthe British Resident said in his report to the government of Madras: “In fact, the movement would have collapsed long ago but for the support it has received from outside Travancore…”
    • Historian T.K. Ravindran observes that Periyar’s arrival gave “a new life to the movement”.

Role in the Satyagraha

    • Argument – He made a cogent and compelling case for it. He used his wit and folk logic to punch holes in the argument of the orthodox.
    • Government repression – As his campaign met with an enthusiastic response, the government imposed prohibitory orders on him. The administration arrested him on May 21. 
    • Non- cooperation – Periyar refused to cooperate with the court saying that the trial was no more than an eyewash and braved the magistrate to inflict any punishment.
    • In the jail – Rajaji wrote in a letter to The Hindu that Periyar was condemned to “rigorous imprisonment and irons and jail clothing and to deprive him of all society to which other satyagraha prisoners were rightly deemed entitled is totally unjustifiable”.
    • Fellow prisoner Kesava Menon wrote to the government expressing objection. The indignities continued until all the satyagrahis were released when the minor king Chithira Tirunal ascended the throne.

At the forefront

    • Contribution – As president of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee he arranged for a contribution of ₹1,000. 
    • Participation – He was part of every consultative meeting, peace committee, campaign party, etc., including the eight-member deputation constituted to meet the Diwan. 
    • With leaders – Every major personality who came to Vaikom met with Periyar. This included Swami Shraddhananda of the Arya Samaj. Rajaji met Periyar. Gandhi too consulted him during his visit. Periyar was present in the small closed door meeting of Gandhi with Sree Narayana Guru.

Outcome of Satyagraha

    • Partial victory – The satyagraha ended in partial victory in 1925: 3 out of 4 streets were thrown open. 
    • Final victory came 11 years later with the Travancore Temple Entry Proclamation of 1936. By that time, Periyar had become a bitter critic of Gandhi. Even his views on satyagraha changed.


    • Periyar had arrived at Vaikom and had given a new life to a sagging movement.
    • He was jailed twice, and was the only person to be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment.
    • Apart from being the only leader from outside the State to be invited to the victory celebrations, he was even asked to preside over it.
    • Thiru.Vi. Kalyanasundara Mudaliar called him the Vaikom Veerar, the hero of Vaikom, even at the time of the struggle.

History- Important places, persons in news

Gandhi Legacy Bill


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gandhi Legacy Bill

Mains level : Relevance of Gandhian thoughts

An American Congressman John Lewis introduced a Bill in the US House of Representatives that aims to promote the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Junior.

Gandhi Legacy Bill

  • The Bill has been moved to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi and affirms the friendship between the US and India.
  • The aim of this Bill is to affirm the friendships of the governments of the US and India and to establish a bilateral partnership, “for collaboration to advance the development and shared values, and for other purposes”.
  • It proposes for the establishment of a Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange initiative with an allocation of over $2 million for five years until 2025.

Who is John Lewis?

  • In 1963, Lewis was 23-years-old when he was being dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, during the years when the movement had reached its peak.
  • He was influenced by Gandhi’s use of non-violent methods that he was employed to oppose the rule of the British Empire in India.
  • In fact, King himself drew from Gandhi’s methods of using non-violent approaches of resistance during the Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955-56.

Lewis and King in India

  • In 2009, Lewis was part of a cultural delegation that was sent to India by then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
  • The trip was undertaken to commemorate and retrace King and his wife’s visit to India between February-March 1959 to study the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi.

History- Important places, persons in news

Gandhi Citizenship Education Prize


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gandhi Citizenship Education Prize

Mains level : NA

Portuguese PM has recently announced the setting up of a Gandhi Citizenship Education Prize.

About the Prize

  • Portugal has launched the prize in order to promote Gandhi’s ideals.
  • Every year, the prize would be inspired by Gandhi’s thoughts and quotes.
  • The first edition of the prize would be dedicated to animal welfare.
  • The initiation of this award shows global reverence for Mahatma Gandhi as the world is realizing that his vision of peace, equality, and non-violence.

History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Maharaja Surajmal


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Maharaja Surajmal

Mains level : Significance of third battle of Panipat

A film based on the Third Battle of Panipat recently released.  In the film, Maharaja of Bharatpur is reportedly shown as having denied help to the Maratha army, one of the factors leading to the Marathas’ eventual defeat.

In a not so unusual course, various factions from Rajasthan and eastern UP have demanded a ban on the film.

Who is Maharaja Surajmal?

  • Maharaja Surajmal was born in 1707 in the kingdom of Bharatpur, Rajasthan.
  • He ruled in the 18th century and was the son of the Jat chieftain Badan Singh.
  • He is described as “a strong leader who harried the Mughal empire in the anarchic period of its decline, consolidated the kingdom with its capital at Bharatpur.
  • He used the resources gained to build forts and palaces, the most famous being the palace at Deeg and the Bharatpur Fort.

The Third Battle of Panipat

  • The Third Battle of Panipat was fought between the Marathas and the invading armies of Afghan general Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1761.
  • The battle, fought about 90 km north of Delhi, was won by the Afghans and left about 40,000 troops of the Marathas dead.
  • Maharaja Surajmal was among those who played key roles in the battle.
  • After the battle, the Marathas lost their preeminent position in north India, which ultimately paved the way for British colonial powers to take over.

History- Important places, persons in news

Persons in news: Maharaja Duleep Singh


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Maharaja Duleep Singh

Mains level : Subsidiary Alliance

A member of parliament has made a demand in the Rajya Sabha to exhume the remains of Maharaja Duleep Singh from his grave in England, and have them brought to Amritsar.

Maharaja Duleep Singh

  • Singh was the youngest son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the last ruler of Punjab. He was declared Maharaja of Punjab in 1843 at the age of five.
  • In 1849, after the second Anglo-Sikh war, Singh was forced to give up claims of sovereignty in exchange for a pension of £40,000 a year. He was 10 years old at that time.
  • In 1853, he converted to Christianity, and settled in the UK in 1854.
  • According to the Royal Collection Trust, in July of 1854, Singh was received by Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace.
  • He is believed to have become a close friend of the royal family and during the summer of 1854, visited them frequently at Osborne.

Kohinoor connection

  • Significantly, in 1849, after the British defeated the Sikhs in the war, Singh was forced to sign a legal document that amended the Treaty of Lahore.
  • It required him to not only give up claims of sovereignty over the region, but also the Koh-i-noor diamond.
  • The diamond eventually made its way to England, where the British East India Company presented it to the Queen.
  • The diamond is now a part of the British Crown Jewels kept in the Tower of London.

Why are his remains in England?

  • In 1864, Singh married Bamba Müller in Cairo and then moved to Elveden in England.
  • Queen Victoria became the godmother of their eldest son, who was named Victor Duleep Singh after the Queen’s eldest grandson Prince Albert Victor.
  • In 1886, he is said to have tried to return to India. He also re-converted to Sikhism.
  • He was refused permission to visit India by the British Secretary of State, and the reconversion ceremony was performed in Aden, Yemen.


  • After this, Singh lived in Paris and is believed to have sought the help of Irish revolutionaries and Russians to launch a revolt against the British in Punjab.
  • He planned to launch the revolt from Pondicherry, which was a French territory then.
  • Ultimately, however, Singh was unsuccessful in doing so. While he died in Paris in 1893 at the age of 55, his body was brought to England, where he was buried.

History- Important places, persons in news

Persons in news: Udham Singh


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Udham Singh, Ghadar Party

Mains level : Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and its aftermath

An extremely chauvinist MP raked up a storm in the Lok Sabha after she praised Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse and she later claimed that remark was meant for Udham Singh and not Godse.

This is not the first time that Udham Singh has been mentioned in Parliament.

Who was Udham Singh?

  • Singh, born in Sunam in Punjab’s Sangrur district in 1899, was a political activist who got associated with the Ghadar Party while in the US.
  • The multi-ethnic party was believed to have communist tendencies and was founded by Sohan Singh Bhakna in 1913.
  • Headquartered in California, the party was committed to the ouster of the British from India.
  • In 1934, Singh made his way to London with the purpose of assassinating O’Dwyer who in 1919 had been the Lt. Governor of Punjab and unsurprisingly Singh considered O’Dwyer to be responsible for the massacre.
  • As per a book, “A Patient Assassin” written by Anita Anand, when O’Dwyer ordered Brigadier Reginald Dyer to Amritsar before the massacre, he was worried that there might be a second Indian mutiny, given the Hindu-Muslim unity and the demonstrations and strikes.
  • Instead of Dyer, who instructed his men to open fire at the crowd gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, O’Dwyer is considered to be the actual perpetrator, since Dyer could not have executed it without his permission.

The assassination of O’Dwyer

  • On March 13, 1940 Singh shot O’Dwyer at a meeting of the East India Association and the Royal Central Asian Society at Caxton Hill.
  • Singh was immediately arrested and held in Brixton prison following this.
  • At the prison, Singh staged a 36-day hunger strike and in police statements and at the court referred to himself as Mohamed Singh Azad, to symbolize Hindu-Sikh-Muslim unity in the fight for India’s freedom.
  • He was sentenced to death and was hanged on July 31, 1940 at Pentonville Prison.
  • In 1974, his remains were sent back to India and he was cremated in his village in Sunam.

In popularity

  • For avenging the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Singh is seen by some as a hero.
  • Gandhi had famously decried Singh’s revenge as an “act of insanity”.
  • Udham Singh Nagar district in Uttarakhand is named after the freedom fighter.

History- Important places, persons in news

Lutyens’ Delhi


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lutyen's Delhi

Mains level : British architecture in India

The Central government has kick-started its ambitious plan of redeveloping the three-km-long Central Vista and Parliament.

Lutyens’ Delhi

  • Lutyens’ Delhi is an area in New Delhi, India, named after the British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869–1944), who was responsible for much of the architectural design and building during 1920s and 1940s.
  • This also includes the Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ).
  • Sir Edwin Lutyens, the architect of Delhi, designed 4 bungalows in the Rashtrapati Bhavan Estate, (Viceroy House Estate); now, these bungalows lie on the Mother Teresa Crescent (then Willingdon Crescent).
  • Sir Herbert Baker, who also designed with the Secretariat Buildings (North and South Block), designed bungalows on the then King George’s Avenue (south of the Secretariats) for high-ranking officials.
  • Other members of the team of architects were Robert Tor Russell, who built Connaught Place, the Eastern and Western Courts on Janpath, Teen Murti House, etc.
  • It is on the 2002 World Monuments Watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites made by World Monuments Fund, a heritage organization based in New York.

Why redevelop the area?

  • The British built Parliament House and the North and South Blocks, which contain the offices of the Ministries of Finance, Home, Defence and External Affairs, between 1911 and 1931.
  • Post-1947, the government of independent India added office buildings such as Shastri Bhavan, Krishi Bhavan and Nirman Bhavan.
  • While the British-built buildings are not earthquake-proof, the buildings that came up after 1947 are prone to fires.

History- Important places, persons in news

Renaming of Agra


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Historical facts associated with Agra City

Mains level : NA

In another dramatic move after renaming Allahabad, the UP government is seeking to change the name of Agra to Agravan.

Agra and Agravan

  • The Greek astronomer, mathematician and geographer Claudius Ptolemy who lived in the 2nd century AD in the city of Alexandria in the Roman province of Egypt, is believed to be the first person to refer to the city of “Agra”.
  • In this it is easy to recognise the Yamuna, the river which after passing Delhi, Mathura, Agra, and other places, joins the Ganges, of which it is the largest affluent at Allahabad.
  • This was the account written by Ptolemy in his well known work ‘Geographia’ (The Geography), according to an 1885 translation by JW McCrindle titled, ‘Ancient India as Described by Ptolemy’.

Deriving the name

  • According to a thesis the earliest reference to Agra appears in the Mahabharata, where it is referred to as “Agravana”.
  • The thesis argued that in sources predating the Mahabharata, the city has been referred to as Arya Griha, or the home of the Aryans.
  • A/c to historians Agra derived its name from the Hindi word ‘agar’, which means ‘salt pan’.
  • The city is a part of Brijbhoomi the land associated with the birth and legendary activities of lord Krishna”.
  • Ptolemy might have thought that Agra was named after a Hindu king Agramesh or Agrameshwar, the thesis argued.
  • An alternative view holds that Agra was founded by Maharaja Agrasen or Ugrasen, the great grandfather of Krishna.

Establishment of the city

  • It is generally accepted that Agra was both an ancient city from the times of the Mahabharata and yet nevertheless Sultan Sikandar Lodi, the Muslim ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, founded Agra in the year 1504.
  • The website says that the “golden age” of the city began with the Mughals, when it was known as Akbarabad.
  • It served as the capital of the Delhi Sultanate in the early 16th century.
  • After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the city came under the influence of the Marathas, and began to be called Agra, according to the website.
  • Agra has historic linkages with Shauripur of Jainism and Runukta of Hinduism of 1000 BC.

History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Mains level : Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and its aftermath

Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019 has been passed by the Parliament after it was passed in Rajya Sabha today.

About the Bill

  • It seeks to make apolitical the trust that runs Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial by removing the clause pertaining to the President of INC as a permanent member of the trust.
  • The Bill also amends to include the Leader of Opposition recognised as such in the House of the People (Lok Sabha).
  • However, there is no such Leader of Opposition, then the Leader of the single largest Opposition Party in that House as a member of the trust.
  • The Bill also amends that a nominated trustee may be terminated before the expiry of the period of five years by the Central Government.


Explained: Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

History- Important places, persons in news

Lala Lajpat Rai


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lala Lajpat Rai and associated facts

Mains level : Read the attached story

  • Yesterday, November 17 was the centenary of the death anniversary of Lala Lajpat Rai, the firebrand Indian nationalist leader affectionately called ‘Punjab Kesari’.
  • Rai is remembered for his role during the Swadeshi movement and for his advocacy of education.

Lala Lajpat Rai

  • Born at Dhudike near Ludhiana in Punjab in 1865, Rai studied law at the Government College, Lahore (now called GCU, Lahore), and had a legal practice in that city.
  • Early in life, he became a follower of Dayanand Saraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj, and went on to become one of the society’s leaders.
  • He died at Lahore in 1928 after he was attacked by police during a protest rally against the Simon Commission.

Major works of Lala Ji

  • In 1881, he joined the Indian National Congress at the age of 16.
  • In 1885, Rai established the Dayanand Anglo-Vedic School in Lahore and remained a committed educationist throughout his life.
  • During the Lahore Session of the Congress in 1893, Rai met Lokmanya Tilak, another nationalist, and the two became lifelong associates.

Role in Swadeshi movement

  • Rai, Tilak, and Bipin Chandra Pal (called Lal-Bal-Pal) fervently advocated the use of Swadeshi goods and mass agitation in the aftermath of the controversial Partition of Bengal in 1905 by Lord Curzon.
  • After taking part in a demonstration in Punjab in 1907, colonial authorities deported Rai to Mandalay in present-day Myanmar without trial, but he was allowed to return the same year for lack of evidence.

Home Rule Movement

  • In 1913, Rai set out for a lecture tour to Japan, England, and the United States, but was forced to stay put abroad after World War I broke and remained overseas until 1920.
  • During his travels, he met many diaspora communities and founded the Indian Home Rule League of America in New York City in 1917.

Association with INC

  • Upon his return, Rai was elected President of the Indian National Congress during its Special Session in Kolkata in 1920, which saw the launch of Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-cooperation Movement.
  • He was subsequently imprisoned from 1921 and 1923.

Literary works

  • Apart from his active involvement in politics, Rai also wrote extensively in English and Urdu.
  • His important works include: ‘The Arya Samaj’, ‘Young India’, ‘England’s Debt to India’, ‘Evolution of Japan’, ‘India’s Will to Freedom’, ‘Message of the Bhagwad Gita’, ‘Political Future of India’, ‘Problem of National Education in India’, ‘The Depressed Glasses’, and the travelogue ‘United States of America’.

Legacy and death

  • In 1928, the Simon Commission, a British-appointed group of lawmakers arrived in India to study the implementation of the Government of India Act, 1919 (the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms).
  • The group of 7 did not consist of a single Indian member, a fact that was heavily resented by the Congress.
  • Rai was among the leaders of the movement opposing the Commission and was severely lathi-charged during a protest in Lahore on October 30, 1928.
  • It was after this that Rai famously said, “The blows struck at me today will be the last nails in the coffin of British rule in India.” He died a few days later on November 17.

History- Important places, persons in news

Explained: How Guru Nanak’s ‘Langar’ is helping UN achieve its ‘zero hunger’ goal


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Langar

Mains level : Zero Hunger With Langar initiaitve

It is reported that Guru Nanak’s ‘Langar’ is contributing to achieve the SDG 2nd goal of Zero Hunger in African countries and is bringing down ‘preventable children deaths’ due to malnutrition.

What is Langar?

  • Langar refers to a system of developing a community kitchen, where people irrespective of their caste, religion and social status sit together on the floor and have food.
  • The word ‘langar’ has its origin in Persian, and means a public eating place where people, especially the needy, are given food.
  • The institution of langar finds its roots in two teachings of Sikhism — ‘Naam japo, kirat karo, vand chako’ (pray, work and share with others whatever you earn) and ‘Sangat aur pangat’ (eat sitting together in rows on the floor).
  • The langar kitchen at Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar feeds nearly a lakh people a day daily.
  • In Delhi, Sri Bangla Sahib gurdwara kitchen serves langar to 45,000-50,000 persons a day.

What is the link between Guru Nanak and langar?

  • Guru Nanak in his teenage had served some hungry sages on his way out of his own money purposed for buying grocery.
  • On being questioned, Nanak said that he did a ‘Sacha Sauda’ by feeding hungry men, which he said was ‘the most profitable deal’ for him.
  • Currently, Gurdwara Sacha Sauda stands at Farooqabad in Sheikhupura district of Pakistan, which is where Guru Nanak is believed to have fed those sadhus.
  • At Kartarpur, his final resting place, Guru Nanak had later established a dharamsal where food is served without discrimination.

How have other Sikh gurus contributed to this tradition?

  • The second Sikh guru Angad Dev and his wife Mata Khivi played a crucial role in strengthening the tradition of langar.
  • The third Sikh Guru, Amar Das, too devoutly followed ‘sangat aur pangat’ and anyone who used to come to meet him, was first served langar.
  • It is said that even when Emperor Akbar came to meet him, Guru suggested he should first have langar sitting with everyone on the floor, which Akbar accepted.

Zero Hunger With Langar

  • Several Sikh organisations like Khalsa Aid, Langar Aid, Midland Langar Seva Society and others are now branching out to other countries where langar is used to provide nutritious meals to the undernourished.
  • One such organisation is ‘Zero Hunger With Langar’ which is specifically working in two African countries — Malawi and Kenya — which are among the countries with the highest malnutrition rates among children and feature in the UN’s target list.

Why such move?

  • There are 821 million people estimated to be chronically undernourished as of 2017, often as a direct consequence of environmental degradation, drought and biodiversity loss.
  • Over 90 million children under 5 (years) are dangerously underweight. Undernourishment and severe food insecurity appear to be increasing in almost all regions of Africa, as well as in South America.
  • In 2017, Asia accounted for nearly two-thirds, 63 per cent of world’s hungry and nearly 151 million children under 5 22 per cent, were stunted in 2017 across the world.

Impact of the movement

  • Attendance in primary schools and nurseries has improved considerably. More than 90 per cent malnutrition-free status is achieved in Malawi.

History- Important places, persons in news

Suranga Bawadi on World Monument Watch list


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Karez System, Suranga Bawadi

Mains level : Not Much

Suranga Bawadi

  • Suranga Bawadi, an integral part of the ancient Karez system of supplying water through subterranean tunnels built during Adil Shahi era in Vijayapura, is now set to get funding for restoration.
  • A New York-based non-governmental organisation has included it in the World Monument Watch list for 2020 along with 24 other monuments from across the world.
  • With this, the Suranga Bawadi is expected to get funds for restoration within the next two years.
  • The NGO would also coordinate with the authorities concerned for restoration and create public awareness on its importance.

What is Karez System?

  • Karez is a method of irrigation in which groundwater is tapped by a tunnel.
  • After running for some distance the tunnel comes out in the open and the water is conducted to the command area.
  • According to historians, the Adil Shahis built the magnificent underground system to supply water to the city, which had a population of nearly 12 lakh then.
  • Though the Karez system was built in the 16th century by Ali Adil Shah–I, his successor, Ibrahim Adil Shah–II, brought in several changes by adding more structures to strengthen it.

About World Monuments Fund

  • The monument has been selected under the ‘Ancient Water System of the Deccan Plateau’ by World Monuments Fund [the NGO], which monitors restoration of ancient monuments across the globe.
  • It works in collaboration with the local stakeholders, including the district administration, the ASI, and local explorers of ancient monuments, in highlighting the need for the restoration of ancient monuments.


World Monuments Watch

  • Every two years WMF publishes the World Monuments Watch (formerly the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites).
  • Since the first list was compiled in 1996, this program has drawn international attention to cultural heritage sites around the world threatened by neglect, vandalism, armed conflict, commercial development, natural disasters, and climate change.
  • Through the World Monuments Watch, WMF fosters community support for the protection of endangered sites, and attracts technical and financial support for the sites.
  • Navigate to the page for map simulated view of various sites in India https://www.wmf.org/watch .

History- Important places, persons in news

Travellers quoted in Ayodhya judgment


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Accounts of various travellers in India

  • In the Ayodhya judgment delivered the Supreme Court relied in part on centuries-old travelogues, gazetteers and books to provide an account of the faith and belief of various parties involved in the case.
  • The travelogues that the court took note of included, among others, those by the European travellers Joseph Tieffenthaler, William Finch, and Montgomery Martin.

Joseph Tieffenthaler (1710-1785)

  • Tieffenthaler was an 18th-century missionary who travelled in India for 27 years, and wrote his travelogue titled “Description Historique et Geographique De l’Inde”.
  • Hailing from Bozano in present-day Italy, Tieffenthaler underwent religious training in the Jesuit order before setting sail for Goa from Portugal in 1743.
  • He said to have been proficient in mathematics, astronomy, geography and natural sciences, and in the German, Italian, Spanish, French, Hindustani, Persian, Arabic, and Sanskrit languages.
  • In India, he was commissioned at the famous observatory of Sawai Jai Singh, the Raja of Jaipur, and was later attached at the Jesuit College in Agra which was built with the patronage of Akbar.
  • Tieffenthaler is said to have lived in Awadh, where Ayodhya is located, for over five years.

William Finch (died 1613)

  • William Finch’s account has been recorded in the 1921 book ‘Early Travels in India (1583-1619)’ by the historiographer Sir William Foster.
  • The book contains the narratives of seven travellers from England, including Finch.
  • Finch is known to have arrived in India in 1608 at Surat with Sir William Hawkins, a representative of the East India Company.
  • His is said to be the earliest English language account of Kashmir, as well as trade routes connecting Punjab and eastern Turkistan and western China.
  • Finch visited Ayodhya between 1608 and 1611, and did not find any building of importance of Islamic origin.

Robert Montgomery Martin (1801-1868)

  • Originally from Dublin in Ireland, Martin was an Anglo-Irish author and civil servant.
  • He practised medicine in Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka), East Africa and Australia.
  • Martin then went on to work in Kolkata where helped found the paper ‘Bengal Herald’. He later returned to England where he wrote about the British Empire.
  • Martin wrote the three-volume work ‘History, Antiquities, Topography and Statistics of Eastern India’.

History- Important places, persons in news

Explained: The fall of the Berlin Wall and how it impacted geo-politics


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Berlin Wall

Mains level : Significance of fall of Berlin Wall

  • Today marks 30th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall and Google has celebrated this with a doodle.

The Berlin Wall

  • It was a concrete barrier that cut across and divided the city of Berlin from 1961 to 1989 and was constructed in the aftermath of the Second World War.
  • After the Wall was fully dismantled in 1989, it led to the reunification of a divided Germany and its people.
  • However it also came to symbolize the fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’ that had divided the Eastern Bloc from Western Europe during the Cold War.

Why was it built?

Germany’s defeat

  • After Germany’s defeat in the war, the Allied powers — the US, the UK, France and the Soviet Union — took control of Germany’s territorial borders and divided it into four zones managed by each Allied power.
  • The capital Berlin was also subjected to this division, despite the city falling mostly inside the zone controlled by the Soviet Union.
  • Two year after the Allied powers had gained control of Germany, political divisions arose between the Allied powers and the Soviet Union over several socio-political aspects that were meant to determine Germany’s future.

The Marshall Plan

  • The most contentious of all however, was the proposal for the extension of the Marshall Plan, a reconstruction plan signed by then US Prez Harry Truman in 1948.
  • The plan aimed to provide economic assistance to Western Europe for reconstruction efforts after the Second World War.
  • The Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin did not approve of this plan because the proposal did not align with Stalin’s vision of a united communist Germany within the Eastern Bloc.

The Berlin Blockade

  • The Berlin Blockade in 1948 set the ground for the start of the construction of the Berlin Wall and in 1949 the Soviet Union declared the existence of the German Democratic Republic, also known as East Germany.
  • In 1961, the borders between East and West Germany were closed, and the division cost common people their homes, families, jobs and changed their lives irrevocably, creating two separate nations built on different socio-political and economic ideologies.
  • This was separated by blocks of concrete that were collectively 140 km longIt took take almost three decades for the Berlin Wall to come down.

Why did the Berlin Wall fall?

  • Civil unrest across East and West Germany put pressure on the East Germany administration to loosen some travel restrictions.
  • Günter Schabowski, a political leader in East Germany had been tasked with the job of announcing the easing of travel restrictions but had not been given full information regarding when the new travel regulations.
  • At a press conference on November 9 when Schabowski was asked when the new regulations would be put into effect, he stated that it was with immediate effect.
  • East Germans who were listening to the live news broadcast rushed to the checkpoints at the Berlin Wall in droves, seeking entry.
  • Armed guards at the checkpoints had not been given instructions on how to handle the crowds and outnumbered checkpoint guards began allowing people to cross without any significant checks.
  • Crowds began climbing on top of the Berlin Wall and the atmosphere changed entirely. It was the day the Berlin Wall was brought down.

Global consequences of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Formation of EU

  • After the fall of the Berlin Wall, decades of separation and unaligned socio-economic development brought several differences between East and West Berlin to the fore.
  • Eastern Europe was dramatically altered with political changes requiring a reexamination of alliances within Europe.
  • These changes resulted in the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 that led to the formation of the European Union in 1993.

Rise of Asian Tigers

  • Following the end of the WW II and the Korean War, East Asia and Southeast Asia were slowly beginning to emerge from the ravages of the wars, relying on what was left of colonial infrastructure and post-colonial economic assistance.
  • Many relied on China for economic support to build their own economies over the next decade.
  • Of the nations in the region, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea came to be known as the ‘Asian Tigers’, and became models for good governance and development and “miracle” economies.
  • Their socio-economic models of development were so robust that these countries escaped relatively unscathed from the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997.

Rise of regional powers

  • After the Soviet Union collapsed, China witnessed an unprecedented rise in importance not only in the region, but also in the world political order.
  • The Soviet Union’s collapse also impacted Cuba and its economy which was reliant on financial subsidies from Moscow.

Birth of Taliban

  • The fall of the Berlin Wall also coincided with Russia’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • Despite the wishes of Soviet-backed Afghanistan President Mohammad Najibullah, Soviet troops began withdrawing from the country.
  • The Mujahideen began their offensives against the Afghan army with more vigor knowing that the army did not have the support of Soviets anymore.
  • Civil unrest and war continued in the country with the fall of the Najibullah government in 1992 and was ongoing till the Taliban came to power in 1996 and brought even more war and unrest in Afghanistan.

History- Important places, persons in news

Thiruvalluvar: Ancient Tamil Saint


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Thiruvalluvar

Mains level : Sangam Literature


Who was Thiruvalluvar?

  • Thiruvalluvar is fondly referred to as Valluvar by Tamils.
  • His ‘Tirukkural’, a collection of 1,330 couplets (‘kurals’ in Tamil), are an essential part of every Tamil household.
  • It holds importance in the same way the Bhagavad Gita or the Ramayana are in traditional North Indian Hindu households.
  • Thiruvalluvar is revered as an ancient saint, poet, and a philosopher by Tamils, irrespective of their religion.
  • He is an essential anchor for Tamils in tracing their cultural roots; Tamils are taught to learn his couplets word-for-word, and to follow his teachings in their day-to-day living.

History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] Kung Fu Nuns of the Drukpa Order


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kung Fu Nuns of the Drukpa Order

Mains level : Ladakh and its spiritual importance

  • Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture met the Kung Fu Nuns of the Drukpa Order.
  • The Kung Fu Nuns recently received the Asia Society’s prestigious Game Changer Award in New York for their path-breaking work to empower women and dismantle gender stereotypes in the Himalayas.

Who are the Kung Fu Nuns?

  • The Kung Fu Nuns are a strong community of 700 nuns and growing, with a thousand-year-old Drukpa legacy.
  • They represent a new generation of Buddhists who use their teachings to take real action and effect meaningful change in the world by promoting gender equality and environmentalism.
  • The Nuns use Jigme as their first name and the meaning of Jigme is ‘fearless’.
  • With this recognition, the Kung Fu Nuns join the likes of iconic Indian leaders Indra Nooyi, Mukesh Ambani, and Dev Patel, who have also been honored by the Asia Society.

Drukpa Order

  • The Kung Fu Nuns are the fearless daughters of India who represent a new generation of Buddhists using spirituality to inspire real-life action & impact.
  • Harnessing the ancient martial art to build strength, promote equality, and improve communities, they are inspiring young girls to break stereotypes and be their own heroes.
  • They belong to the Drukpa Lineage, a thousand-year-old Buddhist tradition that began in the Himalayas.
  • The Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual leader and founder of the Drukpa order, encouraged his nuns to train in Kung Fu to build confidence as leaders.
  • In doing so, he flouted centuries of Buddhist tradition that barred nuns from physical exercise.
  • They are the only Buddhist nuns in the world to practice Kung Fu. The nuns use their martial arts expertise to challenge gender roles in India’s conservative culture.

About Asia Society Game Changer Awards

  • Founded in 1956, the Asia Society is a nonpartisan, non-profit educational institution.
  • It holds offices in Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, NYC, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, Washington DC and Zurich.
  • The society is dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among people, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context.
  • Each year, the Asia Society honor individuals, organizations, or movements that have inspired, enlightened, and shown true leadership in areas that reflect Asia Society’s core pillars of policy and business, arts and culture, and education.

History- Important places, persons in news

Explained: How to read Tipu Sultan’s place in history


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Anglo Mysore Wars

Mains level : Read the attached story


  • Karnataka CM has announced that his government is trying to remove Tipu Sultan’s history lessons from textbooks in the state.
  • It is held that Tipu used tyranny and cruelty against Hindus & Kannada rulers.
  • However the removal of Tipu from textbooks will fundamentally alter the history of early modern India.

Who was Tipu Sultan?

  • Tipu was the son of Haider Ali, a professional soldier who climbed the ranks in the army of the Wodeyar king of Mysore, and ultimately took power in 1761.
  • Tipu was born in 1750 and, as a 17-year-old, fought in the first Anglo-Mysore War (1767-69) and subsequently, against the Marathas and in the Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-84).
  • Haider died while this war was on, and Tipu succeeded him in 1782.

Why remove his name?

  • The right wing activists has long underlined Tipu’s cruel treatment including torture, forced conversions, and the razing of temples in the course of his conquests, as the central feature of his personality.
  • In the hills and jungles of Kodagu on the Kerala-Karnataka border, as well as in Kerala, Tipu is not seen as a hero.

Reason lies in history

  • Both Tipu and his father Haider Ali had strong territorial ambitions, and invaded and annexed territories outside Mysore.
  • Haider annexed Malabar and Kozhikode, and conquered Kodagu, Thrissur and Kochi.Tipu raided Kodagu, Mangaluru, and Kochi.
  • Tipu’s keenness to subjugate Kodagu was linked directly to his desire to control the port of Mangaluru, on whose path Kodagu fell.
  • In all these places, he is seen as a bloodthirsty tyrant who burnt down entire towns and villages, razed hundreds of temples and churches, and forcibly converted Hindus.
  • The historical record has Tipu boasting about having forced “infidels” to convert, and of having destroyed their places of worship.

What is the counternarrative to this understanding of Tipu Sultan?

  • In this narrative, Tipu Sultan is the fearless “Tiger of Mysore”, a powerful bulwark against colonialism, and a great son of Karnataka.
  • He has been seen as a man of imagination and courage, a brilliant military strategist who, in a short reign of 17 years, mounted the most serious challenge the East India Company faced in India.
  • He fought the forces of the Company four times during 1767-99, and gave Cornwallis and Wellesley bloody noses before he was killed heroically defending his capital Srirangapatnam in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War.
  • With Tipu gone, Wellesley imposed the Subsidiary Alliance on the reinstated Wodeyar king, and Mysore became a client state of the East India Company.

Tipu’s pioneering work

  • Tipu reorganized his army along European lines, using new technology, including what is considered the first war rocket.
  • He devised a land revenue system based on detailed surveys and classification, in which the tax was imposed directly on the peasant, and collected through salaried agents in cash, widening the state’s resource base.
  • He modernized agriculture, gave tax breaks for developing wasteland, built irrigation infrastructure and repaired old dams, and promoted agricultural manufacturing and sericulture.
  • He built a navy to support trade, and commissioned a “state commercial corporation” to set up factories.
  • Tipu battled nearly all powers in the region, irrespective of the faith of his opponents.

Secular Tipu

  • His army had both Hindus and Muslims, and among the populations that he slaughtered in Kerala, there were sizeable numbers of Muslims.
  • Just as there is evidence that Tipu persecuted Hindus and Christians, there is also evidence that he patronised Hindu temples and priests, and gave them grants and gifts.
  • He donated to temples at Nanjangud, Kanchi and Kalale, and patronised the Sringeri mutt.

Assessing Tipu’s reign

  • The existing narrative does not seek to whitewash or deny the accounts of Tipu’s brutality, but it does seek to understand these specific incidents within the larger historical context of late medieval and early modern India.
  • Tipu is only one of several historical figures about whom sharply differing perspectives exist.
  • This is because in much of India, history is frequently seen through ethnic, communal, regional, or religious lenses.
  • On the other hand, his destruction of temples and forced conversions of Hindus and Christians feeds into the right wing narrative of the tyrannical and fanatical ruler.
  • It is misleading to argue that if Tipu fought the British, it was “only to save his kingdom” — because so did every other pre-modern ruler, in India and elsewhere.


  • It is important to be aware that much of the criticism of Tipu is rooted in the accounts of those whom he vanquished — and of colonial historians who had powerful reasons to demonize him.
  • It serves no purpose to view Tipu’s multilayered personality through the prism of morality or religion.
  • It is not necessary that he be judged only in terms of either a hero or a tyrant.

History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] Paramahansa Yogananda


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Paramahansa Yogananda

Mains level : Significance of Yoga

  • The Union Minister for Finance released a special commemorative coin on Paramahansa Yogananda to mark his 125th birth anniversary.

Paramahansa Yogananda

  • Paramahansa Yogananda (1893–1952) is considered one of the preeminent spiritual figures of modern times.
  • Author of the best-selling spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, this world teacher came to America in 1920 from his native India and was the first great master of yoga to live and teach in the West.
  • He is now widely recognized as the Father of Yoga in the West.
  • He founded Self-Realization Fellowship (1920) and Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (1917), which continue to carry on his spiritual legacy worldwide.

History- Important places, persons in news

Pushkaram Festival


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pushkaram

Mains level : Significance of the festival

  • Guwahati is marking the inauguration of the 12-day Brahmaputra Pushkar and Sanskritik Mahotsav.
  • Devotees from Tamil Nadu will perform the rituals at the banks of Brahmaputra river.


  • Pushkaram is an Indian festival dedicated to worshiping of rivers.
  • It is also known as Pushkaralu (in Telugu), Pushkara (in Kannada) or Pushkar.
  • It is celebrated at shrines along the banks of 12 major sacred rivers in India, in the form of ancestor worship, spiritual discourses, devotional music and cultural programmes.
  • The celebration happens annually, once in 12 years along each river.
  • Each river is associated with a zodiac sign, and the river for each year’s festival is based on which sign Jupiter is in at the time.

Significance of the festival

  • The transit of Jupiter in 2018 was marked by the entry of Pushkaram in the river Tamiraparani on October 12 last year.
  • The planets were in a unique constellation, the phenomenon occurring after 144 years.
  • This year, the transit of Jupiter will signal the movement of Pushkaram from Tamiraparani to the Brahmaputra.
  • The end-phase will be celebrated for three days at Kurukkuturai and the waters taken to Guwahati, where it will be consigned to the Brahmaputra.

History- Important places, persons in news

Tanaji Malusare and the Battle of Sinhagad


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Treaty of Purandar

Mains level : Not Much


  • A movie is being released on Tanaji Malusare who is popularly remembered in Maharashtra for the Battle of Sinhagad that took place in the year 1670.

Battle of Sinhagad, 1670

  • In the year 1665, the Treaty of Purandar was signed between Jai Singh and Shivaji.
  • Amongst several demands, the treaty had required the Maratha ruler to give up Fort Kondhana to the Mughals.
  • Located near Pune, the fort was one of the most heavily fortified and of high strategic importance.
  • After it was taken over by the Mughals, the fort was guarded by Rajput, Pathan and Arab troop guards and was said to be impenetrable.
  • The idea of Mughals taking control of the fort is said to have deeply disturbed and enraged Shivaji’s mother Jijabai.
  • Upon knowing this, Shivaji entrusted Tanaji, the only man he could think of capable of reconquering the fort Kondhana at any cost.

In folklore

  • A fierce battle is said have taken place between the Rathore and Tanaji. The two clashed for long. Malusare was gravely wounded in the fight and died
  • Enraged by the death of their general, the Marathas fought under the leadership of his brother, Suryaji Malusare, and eventually vanquished the enemy.
  • The fort was renamed as Singhagad (lion’s fort) by Shivaji to honour Tanaji.

History- Important places, persons in news

Dutch royal couple in Kerala


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dutch connection of Kerala

Mains level : Read the attached story

  • The King of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima has arrived in Kochi.

On a state visit

  • King Willem-Alexander, who ascended to the throne in 2013 after the abdication of his mother, and Queen Maxima are in India on their first-ever state visit to the country on the invitation of President Kovind.
  • As part of their five-day tour in India, the royals are flying down to Kerala, a state that has a long cultural relationship with the Dutch on account of European colonization.

The Dutch connection to Kerala

  • After gaining independence from Spain in the 16th century, the Dutch initiated attempts to establish colonies across the world and one of their main targets was southern India due to the presence of spices.
  • Seeking to get their share of the pie, ships carrying Dutch merchants and generals arrived on the shores of Malabar in the early 17th century.
  • They were bolstered by the Portuguese, who had by then set up extensive trade relationship with the local kings in Malabar, Cochin and Travancore.
  • Dutch generals were greeted warmly in Malabar by the king and the local people as the latter had begun to be frustrated with the Portuguese.

Quest with Portuguese

  • The first trade treaty between Dutch Admiral Van der Haghen and the Zamorin of Kozhikode was signed in 1604.
  • Over the next century and a half, the Dutch fought several wars with the Portuguese in a bid to annex territories such as Cochin (now Kochi) and Quilon (now Kollam) and establish their own fortresses and trading ports.
  • The most striking effects of the Dutch rule in Kerala can be seen in Kochi, which had emerged as an important hub for spice trade.
  • Dismantling the Portuguese-built structures, the Dutch established their own symbols, paving streets named after flowers and redesigning the town.

Popular culture

  • A marvellous palace in Mattancherry, gifted by the Portuguese to the Cochin Kings in 16th century but renovated by the Dutch, is now popularly known as the Dutch Palace.
  • It is built with ‘nalukettu’ in Kerala style of architecture and has a temple dedicated to a Goddess in the middle.
  • It underwent extensive renovation ten years ago and houses extensive murals and portraits of the Cochin Kings.
  • The Palace on Bolghatty island was built by the Dutch as a residence for its commander in 1744 and is considered to be one of the oldest existing palaces built by the Dutch outside the Netherlands.
  • Today, it is a heritage holiday resort run by the state tourism department. The Dutch cemetery in Fort Kochi, consecrated in 1724, is also a marker of the Dutch occupation of Kochi.

History- Important places, persons in news

Rangdum Monastery


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rangdum Monastery

Mains level : Not Much

  • The Rangdum monastery in Ladakh in Kargil district could soon be given the status “monument of national importance” by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Rangdum Monastery

  • It is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery belonging to the Gelugpa sect, situated on top of a small but steep sugarloaf hill at an altitude of 4,031 m (13,225 ft) at the head of the Suru Valley, in Ladakh.
  • The 18th century monastery is “perched picturesquely on a top of a hillock like an ancient fort”.
  • The main highlight of the monastery is its central prayer hall with an amazing collection of Tibetan and other artifacts.
  • Apart from the monastery, the Rangdum locality, located 130 km from Kargil town, also serves as the base for various trekking routes.

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.

History- Important places, persons in news

Mahabalipuram’s China connection


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mamallapuram and its history

Mains level : India-China Relations since ancient times

  • Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram where PM Modi will meet China’s President Xi Jinping on October 11 & 12 in an informal Wuhan-style summit, had ancient links with Buddhism and China through the maritime outreach of the Pallava dynasty.

When the Pallavas ruled

  • The name Mamallapuram derives from Mamallan, or “great warrior”, a title by which the Pallava King Narasimhavarman I (630-668 AD) was known.
  • It was during his reign that Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese Buddhist monk-traveller, visited the Pallava capital at Kanchipuram.
  • Narasimhavarman II (c.700-728 AD) aka Rajasimhan built on the work of earlier Pallava kings to consolidate maritime mercantile links with Southeast Asia.
  • The Descent of the Ganga/Arjuna’s Penance, a rock carving commissioned by Narasimhavarman I, with its depiction of the Bhagirathi flowing from the Himalayas, may serve as a reminder of the geography of India-China relations, and their shared resources.
  • Tamil-Chinese links continued after the Pallavas, flourishing under the Cholas as the Coromandel coast became the entrepot between China and the Middle East.

Overseas mission

  • He sent a mission to the Tang court in 720 with a request that would seem unusual in the context of India-China relations today.
  • The emissaries of the Pallava king sought the permission of Emperor Xuangzong to fight back Arab and Tibetan intrusions in South Asia.
  • Pleased with the Indian king’s offer to form a coalition against the Arabs and Tibetans, the Chinese emperor bestowed the title of ‘huaide jun’ (the Army that Cherishes Virtue) to Narayansimha II’s troops.
  • The offer of help by the Pallava ruler, Sen noted, may have had more to do with furthering trade and for the prestige of association with the Chinese emperor, rather than any real prospect of helping him to fight off enemies in the faraway north.

Continuing connections

  • In later centuries, the Coromandel coast retained its importance for trade between China and the west.
  • In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was a staging post for the Dutch, French and British for control of the seas between South Asia and SE Asia, as the Europeans fought to protect their trade routes with China and other countries in the region.
  • The ancient port city of Pondicherry, 80 km south of Mahabalipuram, was a French colony famous for its Chinese exports known as “Coromandel goods”, including crepe de chine.
  • Today the UT, with its French legacy, Tamil residents, Bengali and international devotees of Sri Aurobindo, is among the most diverse and cosmopolitan of cities in South India.

History- Important places, persons in news

Satnami Rebellion


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Satnami Rebellion

Mains level : Peasants revolution in medieval ages


  • In the history of revolts and rebellions, 1672 holds a special significance.

Satnami Rebellion

  • In 1672, the Satnamis — a sect comprising peasants, artisans and untouchables — rebelled against the mighty Mughal Empire. It all began with a small quarrel.
  • A Satnami youth, cultivating his field, got into a fight with a party of Mughal nobles, which resulted in his slaying by a Mughal pyada or a foot soldier.
  • In retaliation, the foot soldier was killed by the Satnami community. This happened in what is today’s Mahendragarh district in Haryana.
  • Following the two murders, the local Mughal official sent a troop of soldiers to arrest those who had killed the foot soldier. But the community drove them away.
  • Emboldened, the Satnamis attacked Narnaul, the main township in the area and destroyed the Mughal garrison. They even set up their own administration.

An armed struggle

  • The Satnamis marched towards Shahjahanabad (old Delhi), armed with the latest European-designed muskets that their leader had taught them to make.
  • Though the Satnamis fought bravely, they lost the battle and 2,000 Satnamis were killed.

What triggered the Satnamis?

  • The killing of the youth may have been the immediate trigger, the reasons for the revolt were to do with the growth of the Satnami sect.
  • The entrenched caste structure of the era forced marginalized groups to join the fold and they protested against the high taxation policies.
  • Their rise was seen as a threat by the supporters of the Mughal administration, the upper castes.

Why is the rebellion significant?

  • Though the rebellion was crushed, its memory endures to this day.
  • That a group of marginalized people fought the systemic oppression in society, established a new community and defended it.


Who were the Satnamis?

  • Historians have called the Satnamis a monotheistic sect who followed neither Hinduism nor Islam and whose scriptures emphasised leading a life based on good conduct rather than on rituals and dogma.
  • Many may find this hard to believe but the Mughals were actually protective of the caste system.
  • As a result, the high castes continued to inflict the worst atrocities on the peasants, artisans, untouchables and tribals.

Satnami women

  • They were the “invisibles” in Mughal India. Whether Brahmin, Rajput or Muslim, they were forbidden to be seen by any man other than their own.
  • In contrast, the Satnami women dressed up like men, worked in farms and also joined men to fight the Mughal soldiers.

History- Important places, persons in news

Mamallapuram’s Chinese links set to give a fillip to Modi-Xi summit


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mamallapuram and its history

Mains level : India-China Relations since ancient times

  • While expectation is in the air in view of the India-China meet in Mamallapuram next week, the coastal town’s ties with China is ancient and it is set to give a historic fillip to the summit.

Mamallapuram and China

  • The 2004 Saluvankuppam excavations in Kancheepuram district make it clear that Mamallapuram was a port town even during the Sangam era about 2000 years ago.
  • The mighty Pallavas, whose flourishing sea port was Mamallapuram for a long time, had a relationship with China and had even sent envoys there during their rule.

Trade relations

  • Celadon ware (pottery) of the first, second Century C.E. recovered on the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu gives us a clue to Chinese maritime activities.
  • Such finds and other archaeological evidences can be used to infer that regions, including coastal areas of present day Mamallapuram and Kancheepuram district had links with China.
  • Chinese coins dating to the same period were also found in Tamil Nadu adding they showed the ancient trade links to the dragon country.
  • Emperor Wei (185-149 BCE) encouraged traders and the Chinese text Ch’ien Han Shu of the first century refers to Kancheepuram as “Huang-Che” and Chinese kings had sent presents to the then ruler of Kancheepuram.

Literary evidences

  • The ancient Tamil work “Pattinapalai,” a post Sangam period work, cites the anchorage of a Chinese ship on the eastern coast of ancient Tamil Nadu.
  • Authored by Urutthiran Kannanar, the work refers to a ship “tungu naavay,” in Tamil, which is nothing but a big Chinese vessel “Zunk,” the archaeologist.
  • Also the Chinese text the “Han annals” has a reference to contacts with the Tamil country.

 Archaeological evidences

  • If you look at the Vayalur inscriptions (near Mamallapuram), they say that Pallavas had sent envoys (6-7th Century AD) to China.
  • Similarly Tamil inscriptions have been found in the dragon country as well.

Literary evidences

  • Chinese monk Hiuen Tsang visited Kancheepuram in the seventh Century AD and he no doubt reached the ancient port town of Mamallapuram and then continued his journey to the temple town.
  • Keen on understanding more about Buddhism and to get original texts of his religion, Hiuen Tsang visited Kancheepuram, which was then a flourishing Buddhist centre, as well as a hub of learning.
  • Ancient Indian sources indicate that Kancheepuram was referred to as a “kadiga,” which meant a “university,” and Tsang was attracted to Kancheepuram.



  • Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram or Seven Pagodas, is a town that lies along the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, 60 km south of Chennai.
  • The town’s religious centre was founded by a 7th-century Hindu Pallava King—Narasimhavarman, also known as Mamalla—for whom the town was named.
  • It contains many surviving 7th- and 8th-century Pallava temples and monuments, chief of which are the sculptured rock relief popularly known as “Arjuna’s Penance,” or “Descent of the Ganges,” a series of sculptured cave temples, and a Shiva temple on the seashore.
  • The town’s Five Rathas, or monolithic temples, are the remnants of seven temples, for which the town was known as Seven Pagodas.
  • The entire assemblage collectively was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

History- Important places, persons in news

In news: Sultanpur Lodhi


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Places associated with Sikhism

Mains level : Kartarpur corridor

  • A town in Punjab’s Kapurthala district, Sultanpur Lodhi, is at the centrestage of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, founder of the Sikh religion.

The Guru Nanak Dev link

  • It was in Sultanpur Lodhi that the Sikhism founder is believed to have attained enlightenment.
  • The janamsakhis depict the birth stories or biographies of Guru Nanak Dev written towards the end of the 16th century.
  • It is said that he was a changed man after he took a dip in the rivulet Kali Bein that flowed through the middle of the town, and disappeared for three days.
  • The Guru said that he had seen the “navkhand”. Those days, geographers had divided the earth into nine continents.
  • It is after this episode in Kali Bein that Guru Nanak said he had seen all the nine continents.


  • Historians say it was in Sultanpur Lodhi that Guru Nanak came into intimate contact with Islam.
  • The janamsakhis depict the tension between a section of the clergy and Guru Nanak following his enlightenment.
  • His utterances were not received kindly by the qazi.
  • He complained to Daulat Khan Lodhi (then governor of Lahore) that Nanak was being blasphemous.
  • Janamsakhis claim Daulat Khan Lodhi became very fond of Nanak and defended him against critics.
  • Today the town is home to several gurdwaras in the memory of Guru Nanak.
  • Most of them were commissioned during the Khalsa empire when the Sikh rulers staked out the places associated with Guru Nanak and built gurdwaras there.

Architectural history

  • Sultanpur Lodhi was a major centre of Buddhism from the first century to the sixth century when it was called Sarwmanpur.
  • In the 11th century, the town was founded by Sultan Khan Lodhi, a general of Mohammad Ghaznavi.
  • Sikander Lodhi, assigned the construction of Sultanpur to Daulat Khan in the 15th century.
  • It was the central point in the trade route between Delhi and Lahore.
  • A footnote in Babarnama, the autobiography of Mughal emperor Babur, mentions Daulat Khan Lodhi as the founder of the town.

History- Important places, persons in news

Origin of Urdu Language


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Medieval Urdu literary works, Official languages of India

Mains level : Origin of Urdu Language


  • Recently Punjab University had proposed to merge Department of Urdu language with school of foreign languages to be set up after merging departments of French, Russian, German, Chinese and Tibetan.
  • The move earned huge criticism and Punjab CM objected to this move of PU and said that Urdu is an Indian language like any other Indian language.

Origin of Urdu Language

  • The origin of Urdu language had taken place in India several centuries back and the names of three places-all in India- are quoted in the historical references.
  • All the historical references indicate that origin of Urdu had taken place in Punjab state of India.
  • The great poet Ameer Khusro, in his book ‘Ghurrat-ul- Kamal’ had written that Masood Lahori a renowned poet born in Lahore in 11th century had composed poetry in Hindvi (Urdu) which is also called Dehlavi.
  • This shows that Urdu was very much originated from Punjab as Lahore was the part of greater Punjab only before partition.
  • Even if it has derived some root words from Persian and Arabic languages then they were changed into Urdu language in India.
  • Before it is called Urdu, it was familiar with other names including Hindustani, Hindavi, Dehlavi and Rekhta.
  • The subject, object, auxiliary, verb, grammar, tenses of Urdu are very much Indian and like the Hindi language.

How it got developed and flourished and where?

  • As per the historical references after its origin in Punjab, Urdu got developed and flourished in Delhi along with part of Haryana state and some states in South where it was developed in the form of ‘Dakhni (Deccani) language’.
  • Historians said that it had developed and flourished in Delhi during the period of ‘Delhi Sultanate’ from 12th to 16th century and then during the period of ‘Mughal Empire’ in Delhi from 16th century to 19th century.
  • It flourished as several court poets used this language in their great poetry and writings. And then it was also developed in Deccan states.

Connection with Deccan India

  • When Delhi Sultanate and then Mughal Empire spread its wings towards the Deccan, Urdu speaking people of Delhi spread the language in South.
  • There it got developed and flourished in Dakhan (Deccan) states mainly in Karnataka, nowadays Telangana, part of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
  • The language derived even local words of the local languages of those states and developed it as a ‘Dakhni’ language which was a bit distinctive of Urdu language in North.
  • It was during the reign of Delhi Sultanate emperor Muhammad –bin-Tughlaq who had decided to move his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad or Devagiri or Deogiri ( a present-day Aurangabad) in 1327 in Maharasthra.
  • With the migration of Delhi’s people, the several Urdu speaking people of Delhi spread its usage in Maharashtra for seven years till the capital of Delhi Sultanate was not reversed to Delhi in 1334.

What is Urdu’s official status in India?

  • It is one of the officials’ languages under the Constitution of India, it is among the 15 Indian Languages written on the Indian Currency notes.
  • It is one of the official languages in states like Kashmir, Telangana, UP, Bihar, New Delhi and West Bengal.
  • In Punjab, all old records in the Revenue Department are available in Urdu language only.
  • Several million in Indian speak this language besides it has great impact on around four dozen cities and regions where it is spoken widely.
  • Post-independence much attention was not given to the language and several states where Urdu was a compulsory subject in school curriculum was no more a compulsory subject now.

History- Important places, persons in news

Tamil Poet: Kaniyan Pungundranar


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kaniyan Pungundranar

Mains level : Sangam Literature

  • Seeking collective efforts to address serious global challenges, PM Modi invoked famous Tamil philosopher and poet Kaniyan Pungundranar’s quotes at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Who is Kaniyan Pungundranar?

  • Kaniyan Poongunranar, also known as Poongundranar, was an influential Tamil philosopher from the Sangam age.
  • Born and brought up at Mahibalanpatti village of Tamil Nadu’s Sivaganga district, Poongunranar laid down the principles of his version of natural law, throughout the poem ‘Way of Order’.
  • He composed two poems in Puṟanāṉūṟu and Natrinai.
  • Poongundranar’s “Yathum Oore“, which was declared as the theme song of the 10th World Tamil Conference scheduled in Chicago, is now depicted in the United Nations Organisation.
  • In the poem, Poongundrana had rejected the division of mankind into various categories, urging people across the world to be bound by one.
  • Poongundranar was extremely influential in the revivalist Self-respect movement.

 Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelir

  • Quoting Pungundranar’s 3000-year-old quotes, PM gave a mention about his famous poem – “Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelir“, which means “We belong to all places, and to everyone”.
  • This sense of belonging beyond borders is unique to India, PM added.

History- Important places, persons in news

Pre historic site: Sittannavasal


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the site

Mains level : Cave architecture in India

  • Sittannavasal, a small hamlet in Tamil Nadu’s Pudukottai district, is a muse for historians, archaeologists, anthropologists and art lovers alike.

About the site

  • Located 50 km from Tiruchi, the Sittannavasal rock-cut cave temple, with its beautiful frescoes, sculptures of Jain Theerthangaras and stone beds atop of a hillock.
  • It is believed to be an ancient abode for Jains when Jainism flourished in the region till the 10th century A.D.
  • While the numerous dolmens, stone circles and other forms of megalithic relics in its vicinity indicate the prehistoric and proto-historic antiquity of the region.
  • The village itself dates back to the 1st century B.C.
  • The temple is now a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.

History- Important places, persons in news

Dadasaheb Phalke Award


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the award

Mains level : Role of Indian cinema in cultural integration

  • Recently it was announced that veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan will be awarded the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Indian cinema’s highest honour.

The Dadasaheb Phalke Award

  • The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is part of the National Film Awards, themselves a highly coveted collection of honours in the film industry.
  • The Award is named after Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, the pioneering filmmaker who gave India its first film– ‘Raja Harishchandra’, in 1913.
  • Presented annually by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the award is considered the highest honour in the Indian film fraternity.
  • It is awarded for “outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema”.


  • According to the website of the Directorate of Film Festivals, the award was instituted by the government in 1969, and consists of a ‘Swarna Kamal’, a cash prize of INR 10 lakh, a certificate, a silk roll, and a shawl.
  • The award is presented by the President of India in the presence of the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, the Chairpersons of the juries and some others.
  • Amitabh Bachchan is the 50th recipient of the award. Last year, it was given posthumously to the legendary late actor Vinod Khanna.
  • The first recipient of the award was Devika Rani Roerich in 1969.

About Dadasaheb Phalke

  • Born in 1870 at Trimbak in Maharashtra, Phalke was drawn towards creative arts since childhood.
  • He studied engineering and sculpture and developed an interest in motion pictures after watching the 1906 silent film The Life of Christ.
  • Before venturing into films, Phalke worked as a photographer, owned a printing press, and had even worked with the famed painter Raja Ravi Varma.
  • In 1913, Phalke wrote, produced, and directed India’s first feature film, the silent Raja Harishchandra.
  • A commercial success, it propelled Phalke to make 95 more films and 26 short films in the next 19 years.
  • Phalke’s fortunes dwindled with the arrival of sound in cinema, and he died in 1944 at Nashik after retiring from films.

History- Important places, persons in news

Marsiya Poetry       


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Marsiya poetry       

Mains level : Not Much

  • Recently former Vice Prez Hamid Ansari, while addressing the function praised the Marsiya tradition of Urdu poetry, calling the art form an important part of ‘Adab’ (literature).

Marsiya poetry

  • Marsiya poetry, which holds special significance for Shia Muslims, is a form of literary expression that is dedicated to describing the persona of Imam Hussain.
  • Imam Hussain is a revered figure in the Islamic world, and the hardships he and his kin underwent during the historic Battle of Karbala.
  • Marsiya is typically read in the month of Muharram, which ended on September 10 this year.

The tradition

  • The word Marsiya means elegy, meaning a poem which is a lament for the dead.
  • In Urdu literature, Marsiya is written principally in praise of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet, and his family members who died at the Battle of Karbala in the year 680 CE in present-day Iraq.
  • Marsiya is a form of poetry which not only touches upon the death of Imam Hussain and other events, but also delves into his ethic (Akhlaaq) of forgiveness and etiquette (Adab) of compassion.
  • Marsiya is usually sung, and set to Indian Ragas, creating a fusion of music and poetry.


  • The Marsiya tradition first evolved in Delhi and the Deccan, but reached its zenith under the patronage of the Nawabs of Lucknow, who encouraged the art form in the 18th and 19th centuries around the same time when Mughal power was steadily receding.
  • Its most iconic poets from the 19th century, Mir Anis and Mirza Dabir, made a profound impact on Marsiya, making six-line stanzas the preferred form.
  • Marsiya is also noteworthy for its depiction of events in 7th century Arabia in a manner which could be relatable to audiences in South Asia, making the genre popular here.
  • For example, its Arab characters are depicted in the South Asian setting, having habits and customs like elite North Indian families.

History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Dadabhai Naoroji


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various facts associated with Dadabhai Naoroji

Mains level : Dadabhai Naoroji and his contributions

  • 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.

History- Important places, persons in news

Asiatic Society of Bombay


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Asiatic Society

Mains level : Read the attached story

  • 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.

History- Important places, persons in news

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


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : India's first interim cabinet

Mains level : Read the attached story


  • 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.

History- Important places, persons in news

The Munich Agreement


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Munich Agreement

Mains level : WW2 and its onset

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.

History- Important places, persons in news

Explained: Indian Indentured Labourers


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indentured labour, Girmitiya

Mains level : Slave trade from India in colonial era

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.

History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vedanta Philosophy

Mains level : Indian Philosophy

  • 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.

History- Important places, persons in news

Sanchi Stupa’s contribution to Indian architecture


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sanchi Stupa

Mains level : Ancient Buddhist 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:


History- Important places, persons in news

Jaipur gets UNESCO World Heritage tag


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Heritage cities in India

Mains level : Read the attached story

  • 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.

History- Important places, persons in news

Explained: The enduring legacy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Misls

Mains level : Read the attached story

  • 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.

History- Important places, persons in news

Ajivika School of philosophy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ajivika Philosophy

Mains level : Heterodox philosophies in India

  • 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!

History- Important places, persons in news

Chaukhandi Stupa declared to be “of national importance”


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Chaukhandi Stupa and its significance

Mains level : Ancient Buddhist architecture

  • 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.

History- Important places, persons in news

Orchha on UNESCO world heritage sites tentative list


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Orchha Architectural Complex

Mains level : UNESCO heritage sites in India

  • 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.

History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Mains level : Social reforms in Colonial India


  • 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.

History- Important places, persons in news

Thailand’s cultural roots with India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Not Much


  • 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.

History- Important places, persons in news

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


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MN Roy and his contributions

Mains level : Role of Indians in Communism across India and the world


  • 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.