History- Important places, persons in news

May, 16, 2019

Person in news: Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar


News

Context

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

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

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

Reforms by Ishwar Chandra

I. Widow Remarriage

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

II. Campaign against polygamy

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

Impact of his reformist zeal

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

Fruitful outcomes

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

Thailand’s cultural roots with India

News

Background

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

Indian roots of Coronation

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

Indianisation in SE Asia

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

Observation of Brahminical features

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

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

News

Context

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

M. N. Roy

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

M. N. Roy in Mexico

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

Spread of Communism in America 

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

Contribution in anti-colonial struggle in India

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

750th birth anniversary of Vedanta Desikan

News

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

Vedanta Desikan (1268–1369)

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

His work

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

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

News

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

NMA drafting rules

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

Purpose

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

Back2Basics

National Monuments Authority (NMA)

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

Functions of NMA

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

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

News

World Heritage Day

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

Rural Landscapes

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

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

News

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

Importance of Notre-Dam

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

[op-ed snap] Jallianwala Bagh massacre:

CONTEXT

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

Problems With the nature of the statement

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

The history of incidence

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

Evasion of responsibility

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

Similar Incidents

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

Earlier Reactions on Massacre

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

Conclusion

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

 

 

Apr, 08, 2019

Explained: Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

News

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

Protesting the contentious Rowlatt Act

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

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

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

Aftermath

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

Hunter Commission

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

[pib] Battle of Kangla Tongbi

News

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

Battle of Kangla Tongbi

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

Significance of the battle

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

Ramappa temple for world heritage site

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Ramappa Temple, UNESCO

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


News

Ramappa Temple to get the tag

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

About the temple

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

Agencies involved

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

Back2Basics

UNESCO

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

UNESCO World Heritage Committee

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

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

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Indian History| All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Bengal Famine

Mains level: Bengal Famine: causes and consequences


News

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

Soil moisture & famine

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

British Policy Failure

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

Immediate cause of such Famines

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

Sharda Peeth Corridor

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sharda Peeth Corridor (Location, importance)

Mains level: India-Pakistan Cultural Relations


News

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

Sharda Peeth Corridor

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

Importance of the peeth

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

Role of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the Dandi march of 1930

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Dandi March

Mains level: Contribution of Sardar Patel


News

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

Dandi March

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

Role of Sardar Patel

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

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

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Dictionary of Martyrs Project

Mains level: Contribution of various freedom struggle


News

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

 “Dictionary of Martyrs” Project

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

Who are included?

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

Five Volumes

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

[pib] Guru Ravidas

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Indian History| All Syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Guru Ravidas and associated facts

Mains level: Bhakti Movement in medieval India


News

Guru Ravidas Jayanti

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

Who was Guru Ravidas?

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

Teachings of Guru Ravidas

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

With inputs from:

Financial Express

Feb, 04, 2019

Stupa-hopping in Sarnath

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Sarnath Stupa and associated stories

Mains level:  Significance of Buddhism


News

Dhamek Stupa, Sarnath

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

Importance of Sarnath

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

Stories associated with Sarnath

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

The first Sermon

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

Foundation of Sangha

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

Excavation in Colonial Period

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

National Emblem of India

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

Survived several invasions

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

Cultural Significance

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

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

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Guru Padmasambhava, Thangka Paintings

Mains level: India-Bhutan cultural relations


News

About the Conference

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

Guru Padmasambhava

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

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

Jan, 19, 2019

What is Goa’s ‘Opinion Poll Day’?

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Goan Asmitai Dis

Mains level: Goan freedom struggle and its consolidation


News

Background

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

Goan Liberation

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

Row for Plebiscite

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

Passing the Opinion Poll Act

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

Goa saves itself from merger

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

Back2Basics

Referendum

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

Plebiscite

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

How India fuelled slavery with the export of cotton

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  The attached story is full of factual details

Mains level: Colonial trade and its impact on domestic artisans


News

200 years since cotton mills in India

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

Indian owned mills

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

Quest for Indian Cotton

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

Fuelling slavery

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

Dhaka Muslin lost its popularity

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

The three-continent spanning enterprise

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

Deep paradox

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

India’s staggering cotton exports

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

[op-ed snap] A larger freedom

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

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

Mains level: Relevance of Gandhian thoughts in current context


Context

Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom experiences

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

Factors that influenced Gandhi’s activities

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

Gandhi’s views

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

Emphasis on constructive work

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

Gandhi’s relevance in today’s India

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

[op-ed snap] Legacies crucial for the commons

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

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


Context

Anniversaries of Gandhi & Marx

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

Legacy of these stalwarts continues

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

Resistance and construction

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

Common features of these movements

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

Way forward

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

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

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World War 1, Indian national movement

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


Context

India’s contribution in WW-I

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

Effect of the war on Indian national movement

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

Socioeconomic impact

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

Rise in the domestic market

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

Conclusion

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

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

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Quit India Movement

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


Context

Role of Indian soldiers in WW-I

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

Not received proper respect from the British

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

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

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

Way forward

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

Cabinet clears renaming Jharsuguda aerodrome as Veer Surendra Sai airport

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Veer Surendra Sai

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

Context

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

About Veer Surendra Sai (1809-1884)

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

[pib] Statue of Unity

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Statue of Unity

Mains level: Not Much


News

Context

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

About Statue of Unity

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

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

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Azad Hind Govt.

Mains level: Contribution of AHG in Indian Independence


News

Context

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

Azad Hind Government

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

Administration of the AHG

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

Territories under AHG

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

Collapse of AHG

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

Importance of INA and AHG

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

How Satyagraha still drives change globally

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global non-violence movements

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


News

Gandhi: A leader with a Global Cause

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

Gandhi’s Relevance in Global Politics

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

Cultural Harmony and Peaceful Co-existence

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

Democratization of Cultural Pluralism

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

Global success of Satyagraha

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

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

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

 [II] Defying Racism: Martin Luther King, Jr

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

[III] Democratic Deliberations and Civic Participation: Nelson Mandela

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

Mandela: the unparalleled Gandhi

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

[IV] Against Autocratic State: Arab Spring

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

Conclusion

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

[pib] Sir Chhotu Ram and his Agricultural Reforms

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sir Chhotu Ram and his Reforms

Mains level: Agricultural reforms in colonial period


News

Context

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

Sir Chhotu Ram (1881-1945)

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

Political activities

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

Notable Agricultural Reforms

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

[pib] Centenary Celebrations of Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha

Mains level: Hindi Movement in South India.


News

Context

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

Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha

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

Hindi Movement in South India

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

[pib] Centenary of the Battle of Haifa Celebrated

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Battle of Haifa

Mains level: Contribution of Indian Soldiers in World Wars.


News

Context

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

Battle of Haifa

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

Significance of Haifa war

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

Haifa War in news

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

20 years since slave trade was abolished

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Haitian Revolution

Mains level: Abolition of Slave Trade


News

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

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

Additional steps taken by UNESCO

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

Background of the Haitian Revolution

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

Impact of the Revolution

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

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

Note4Students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: North-East Circuit and Swadesh Darshan Scheme

Mains level: Expanding tourism in NE India


News

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

About Imphal & Khongjom

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

Back2Basics

Swadesh Darshan

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

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

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 8888 uprising

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


Context

Myanmar’s 8888 uprising

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

Importance of the movement

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

Objective of the 8888 movement

The objective of ‘8888’ was two-fold:

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

Minorities still struggling for rights

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

Military’s role in democracy

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

Way forward

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

Who was Pingali Venkayya?

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Contribution of Pingali Venkayya

Mains level:  Read the attached story


News

The story of Indian Flag

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

[op-ed snap] India’s Magna Carta

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

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

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


News

Context

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

Montague-Chelmsford Reforms 

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

Created background for Government of India Act 1919

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

Outcomes

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

Reception in India

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

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

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

Paving way for the 1935 Act

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

Magna Carta of Modern India

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

[pib] Behdienkhlam Festival, Meghalaya

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of Behdienkhlam Festival

Mains level: Not Much 


News

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

Behdienkhlam Festival

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

A 216-foot-tall celebration of Ramanuja

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of Ramanujacharya’s philosophy

Mains level:  Bhakti Movement and Contribution of Ramanujacharya


News

Millennium Celebration of Ramanujacharya

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

Back2Basics

Ramanuja (1017–1137 AD)

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

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

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Philosophy of Kabir and Kabir Panth

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


News

Sant Kabir

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

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

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Khilafat Movement, Deoband Movement

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


News

Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind marks 100 years since inception

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

Messenger of Composite Nationalism

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

Sustained a deep divide

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

But Not a Monolith

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

‘Birth of Satyagraha’: Sushma travels to Pietermaritzburg

Related image

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

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

Mains level: Relevance of Satyagraha in today’s world


News

Remembering the start of ‘Satyagraha’

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

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

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