Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

124th Death Anniversary of Birsa Munda

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Birsa Munda, Sardari Agitation, Birsait Faith, Ulgulan, Khuntkattidar System.

Why in the News?

Jharkhand CM marked the 124th death anniversary of revolutionary tribal leader “Birsa Munda” by paying his tributes.

Who was Birsa Munda (1875-1900)?

  • Birsa Munda was born on November 15, 1875, during a period of significant change for his community, the Mundas, residing in the Chotanagpur region of present-day Jharkhand.
  • Birsa Munda spent his early years travelling with his parents and received primary education under Jaipal Nag.
  • Inspired by the peaceful Sardari agitation against British rule, Birsa became a prominent leader advocating for tribal rights.

Causes of the Rebellion

  • Impact of Colonial Policies: Colonial policies, including the Permanent Settlement Act (1793), disrupted traditional land ownership systems, leading to displacement and exploitation of indigenous communities.
  • Erosion of Khuntkattidar System: The Mundas’ traditional land rights system, known as khuntkatti, was eroded by jagirdars and thikadars, leading to land alienation.
  • Land Alienation and Exploitation: Non-tribal migration into tribal regions accelerated under British rule, resulting in exploitation through high-interest money lending and forced labour.
  • Missionary Activity: The spread of education through missionary activities led to increased awareness among tribals, deepening social cleavages but also inspiring movements for tribal reconstruction.

Major Activities:

1. New faith ‘Birsait’ against religious conversion

  • Having gained awareness of the British colonial ruler and the efforts of the missionaries to convert tribals to Christianity, Birsa started the faith of ‘Birsait’.
  • Soon members of the Munda and Oraon community started joining the Birsait sect and it turned into a challenge to British conversion activities.
  • The Mundas called him Dharati Aaba, the father of earth.

2. The Birsa Movement: Ulgulan

  • The Munda Rebellion was a tribal rebellion led by Birsa Munda in the region south of Ranchi in 1899-1900.
  • It mainly concentrated in the Munda belt of Khunti, Tamar, Sarwada, and Bandgaon.
  • The revolt sought to establish Munda Raj and independence, known as Ulgulan or ‘Great Tumult’ by Munda tribals.
  • The rebellion ended with the suppression by British forces and the death of Birsa Munda.

Significant Outcomes

  • Impact: Birsa Munda’s mobilization of tribal communities left a lasting legacy, prompting government reforms such as the repeal of the Begar system and the enactment of the Tenancy Act (1903).
  • His Death: The movement was violently suppressed and Birsa Munda died in jail on 9 June 1900.

What is Permanent Settlement System?

  • The Permanent Settlement system introduced by Lord Cornwallis in 1793 was a land revenue system implemented in British India, particularly in Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha.
  • Under this system, the land revenue to be paid by the peasants (ryots) was fixed permanently without revision for an extended period (typically 10 years or more).
  • This fixed amount was based on the estimated productive capacity of the land.
  • It established the Zamindari system, where Zamindars (landlords) were recognized as the owners of land.
  • They were responsible for collecting revenue from the peasants and paying it to the British government.
  • In return, they were entitled to keep a portion of the collected revenue as their income, often ranging from 10% to 15%.

PYQ:

[2020] With reference to the history of India, “Ulgulan” or the Great Tumult is the description of which of the following events?

(a) The Revolt of 1857

(b) The Mappila Rebellion of 1921

(c) The Indigo Revolt of 1859-60

(d) Birsa Munda’s Revolt of 1899-1900

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

131 years of Gandhiji’s Natal Satyagraha

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Natal Satyagraha, Beginning of non-violent protest

Why in the News?

  • On June 7, 1893, Mahatma Gandhi faced racial discrimination when he was forced off a first-class train compartment at “Pietermaritzburg railway station” in South Africa.
    • This event ignited the spirit of civil disobedience in him through his first non-violent protest in the “Natal Satyagraha”.

History of ‘Satyagraha’

  • The terms originated in a competition in the news-sheet Indian Opinion in South Africa in 1906.
  • Mr. Maganlal Gandhi, grandson of an uncle of Mahatma Gandhi, came up with the word “Sadagraha” and won the prize.
  • Subsequently, to make it clearer, Gandhi changed it to Satyagraha.

About the Pietermaritzburg Incident 

  • Gandhi’s forced removal from a first-class train compartment in 1893 served as a catalyst for his commitment to resisting racial discrimination.
  • This event inspired him to pursue nonviolent resistance, planting the seeds for his philosophy of Satyagraha.

Its’ Aftermath

  • Formation of Natal Indian Congress and Advocacy
    • Establishment: Gandhi organized the Indian community and founded the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) in 1894 at Durban to advocate for their rights.
    • Campaigns: He initiated various campaigns, including petitions and boycotts, challenging discriminatory laws and policies in South Africa.
  • Natal Satyagraha
    • The passage of the Asiatic Registration Act in 1906 sparked the Natal Satyagraha, protesting against this discriminatory law.
    • Gandhi emerged as the leader of the movement, advocating for nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience.
    • Satyagraha emphasized confronting oppression with moral courage and integrity, without resorting to violence.

Gandhiji’s South Africa Settlements:

  • Phoenix Settlement in Natal: Founded in 1904, the Phoenix Settlement was established by Gandhi as a communal living space and centre for social and political activism. It served as a hub for his Satyagraha campaigns against racial discrimination and injustice in South Africa.
  • Tolstoy Farm outside Johannesburg: Gandhi established Tolstoy Farm in 1910 as a self-sustaining community inspired by the teachings of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. It served as a refuge for Indian immigrants and a base for organizing resistance against discriminatory laws.

Characteristics and Impact of Natal Satyagraha

  • Mass Participation: The movement garnered widespread support from the Indian community, involving thousands in nonviolent protests.
    • He mobilized support for the welfare of Indians and established the Transvaal British Indian Association in Johannesburg in 1903.
  • Arrests and Imprisonment: Gandhi and many others faced arrests and imprisonment for their acts of civil disobedience. He faced imprisonment multiple times for his nonviolent protests, including the Volkrust Satyagraha in 1913.
  • Attracted International attention: The Satyagraha attracted international attention and led to negotiations, culminating in the Indian Relief Act in 1914.

PYQ:

[2019] With reference to the British colonial rule in India, consider the following statements

  1. Mahatma Gandhi was instrumental in the abolition of the system of ‘indentured labour’.
  2. In Lord Chelmsford’s ‘War Conference’, Mahatma Gandhi did not support the resolution on recruiting Indians for World War.
  3. Consequent upon the breaking of Salt Law by Indian people, the Indian National Congress was declared illegal by the colonial rulers.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 1 and 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

299th Birth Anniversary of Ahilyabai Holkar (1725 –1795)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ahilyabai Holkar and her contemporaries

Why in the News?

The 299th birth anniversary of legendary ruler Ahilyabai Holkar was celebrated on 30th May.

About Ahilyabai Holkar

Details
Birth May 31, 1725; Chaundi village, Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra, India
Family Daughter of Mankoji Shinde, a respected Dhangar family member
Education Despite societal norms, her father taught her to read and write
Marriage Married Khande Rao Holkar, son of Malhar Rao Holkar, in 1733
Rise to Prominence Impressed by her piety and character, Khande Rao married Ahilyabai on the Peshwa’s advice
Leadership Took control of Malwa after her husband’s death in 1754
Reign Ruled Malwa from 1767 to 1795
Capital Maheshwar became the capital of Malwa under her rule
Administrative Prowess Known for her administrative acumen
Military Strategies Personally led armies into battle and defended Malwa against intruders
Cultural Contributions Established Maheshwar as the seat of the Holkar Dynasty
Temple Restorations Led the reconstruction of Kashi Vishwanath Temple and built Somnath Temple
Economic Development Promoted the production of Maheshwari Sarees and fostered trade and commerce
Social Inclusion Advocated for marginalised communities and mainstreamed their inclusion
Legacy Revered as “The Philosopher Queen” by historians like John Keay

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Kanyakumari’s Vivekananda Rock

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vivekananda Rock, Kanyakumari

Why in the News?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his plan to visit and meditate at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu marking the culmination of the Lok Sabha election campaign.

About Vivekananda Rock:

  • Vivekananda Rock Memorial is located in Kanyakumari’s Vavathurai beach, Tamil Nadu.
  • It is situated on a rock island at the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, where the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean meet.
  • The memorial consists of two main structures: the Vivekananda Mandapam and the Shripada Mandapam.

Historic Significance of Kanyakumari:

  • Swami Vivekananda is said to have meditated on this rock for two days in December 1892, as he journeyed across India after his return from the West.
  • Eknath Ranade, the founder of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee, proposed the idea of constructing a memorial on the rock.
  • The foundation stone for the memorial was laid on September 1, 1964, by then-President of India, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.
  • The memorial was inaugurated on September 2, 1970, by then-President of India, V. V. Giri.

About Swami Vivekananda

Details
Birth and Death Narendranath Datta (1862-1902)
Message Spread Ramakrishna’s message, reconciled it with contemporary Indian society, preached neo-Hinduism
Spiritual Foundation Based on the spiritual experiences of Ramakrishna, teachings of Upanishads and Gita, examples of Buddha and Jesus
Philosophical Beliefs Subscribed to Vedanta, believed in fundamental oneness of God, advocated for blending of Hinduism and Islam
Advocacy for Social Action Emphasised social action, criticised religion’s approval of oppression of the poor, called for secular and spiritual knowledge for upliftment
Balance between Spiritualism and Materialism Advocated for a healthy balance between spiritualism and materialism, called for a blend of Western materialism and Eastern spiritualism for global happiness
Establishment of Ramakrishna Mission Founded Ramakrishna Mission in 1897, used it for humanitarian relief and social work, stands for religious and social reform, advocated service as worship, not a proselytizing body
Philosophy of Ramakrishna Mission Believes in using technology and modern science for mankind’s service, recognizes the utility of image worship, emphasizes Vedanta philosophy as a unifying force for all religions, open to all men regardless of caste or creed
Physical Establishment Acquired land at Belur in 1898, shifted Ramakrishna Math there.

 

PYQ:

What does each of the following quotations mean to you?

  1. [2021] Every work has got to pass through hundreds of difficulties before succeeding. Those that persevere will see the light, sooner or later.- Swami Vivekananda.
  2. [2020] Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If not, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way. – Swami Vivekananda. (2020)

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

[pib] Rabindranath Tagore and his legacy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Eminent Personalities; Rabindranath Tagore;

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The Conservation and Cultural Archives Division of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) hosted an exhibition and lecture celebrating Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary in New Delhi.

Tagore’s Journey to France

  • Tagore had visited the battlefields of the First World War, highlighting his deep humanity.
  • The narrative includes mentions of Alexandra David Neel, who recommended Tagore during his European tours, and Victoria Ocampo, who taught French to Tagore, enhancing his connection with French culture and intellectual society.

About Rabindranath Tagore

Details
Birth and Early Life – Born on May 7, 1861, in Calcutta, India.
Literary Career – Published his first poems at age 16 under the pen-name ‘Bhanusimha’.

– Key works include “Gitanjali“, “Ghare-Baire“, “Gora“, and “Manasi“.

Music and Art – Composed over 2,000 songs known as ‘Rabindra Sangeet’.

– Our National Anthem was composed by him and it was first sung on 27 December 1911 at the Calcutta Session of INC.

– Created more than 2,000 paintings, influenced by European expressionism.

Education – Founded Visva-Bharati University in 1921, integrating Eastern and Western philosophies.
Political Views – He is said to have given the title of ‘Mahatma’ to Mohandas

– Renounced his ‘Knighthood’ (awarded to him in 1915 by the British King George V) in 1919 following the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Cultural Influence – Wrote the National Anthems of India (“Jana Gana Mana”) and Bangladesh (“Amar Sonar Bangla”).

– Inspired the national anthem of Sri Lanka through a student.

Awards and Recognition – Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 for “Gitanjali“, the first non-European to win.

– Awarded, and later renounced, a knighthood by British King George V in 1915.

Philosophical Contributions – Advocated for the incorporation of the best aspects of Western culture with Indian culture to achieve anti-colonialism.
Death – Passed away on August 7, 1941, in Calcutta.
Legacy – Revered as ‘Gurudev’, ‘Kabiguru’, and ‘Biswakabi’. Highly influential in introducing Indian culture to the West and reshaping Bengali literature and music.
Additional Contributions – Advocated for ‘Unity in Diversity’ and ‘National Integration’.

– Spoke at the World Parliament of Religions, Chicago in 1929 and 1937.

– Modernized Bengali prose and poetry, remembered for songs like ‘Ekla Chalo Re’ and his environmental efforts at Santiniketan.

About Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA)

  • The IGNCA, New Delhi is a premier government-funded arts organisation in India.
  • It is an autonomous institute under the Union Ministry of Culture.
  • It was established on 19 November 1985 by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
  • IGNCA is envisioned as a centre for the study and experience of arts in the field of:
  1. Creative literature – written and oral;
  2. Visual arts inclusive of architecture;
  3. Sculpture, painting and graphics to general material culture, photography and film; and
  4. Performing arts of music, dance and theatre.

PYQ:

[2019] Examine the linkages between the nineteenth century’s Indian Renaissance and the emergence of national identity.

[2021] Who among the following was associated as Secretary with Hindu Female School, later known as Bethune Female School?​

(a) Annie Besant

(b) Debendranath Tagore

(c) Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

(d) Sarojini Naidu

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

‘Hicky’s Bengal Gazette’: India’s First Newspaper

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 'Hicky’s Bengal Gazette' and related facts

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • World Press Freedom Day, observed annually on May 3, underscores the significance of journalism in society, tracing its roots back to pivotal moments in history.
  • Hicky’s Bengal Gazette, founded by James Augustus Hicky in 1780, marked the inception of Indian journalism, serving as a platform for social discourse and political critique.

Who was James Augustus Hicky?

  • Born in Ireland in the 1730s, James Augustus Hicky ventured to India, then known as the “Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire“, in search of better opportunities.
  • Faced with initial setbacks, including debts that led to his imprisonment, Hicky demonstrated resilience by setting up a printing press within the jail premises.

Establishment of ‘Hicky’s Bengal Gazette’:

  • ‘Hicky’s Bengal Gazette’ was the first newspaper ever published in India (indeed in Asia), with its inaugural edition released on January 29, 1780.
  • Hicky served as its founder-editor, aiming to cater primarily to the European community in Calcutta.
  • He initially focusing on local issues such as road repairs and maintenance.
  • The newspaper later delved into broader societal concerns, including government corruption and civic issues.
  • Despite its reputation for gossip and salacious content, the Gazette also published articles critical of the British East India Company and advocated for infrastructure development and sanitation improvements.
  • Hicky’s newspaper was printed once a week on Saturday, and retailed for Rs 1.
  • Its circulation was estimated to be around 400 copies per week, although possibly more.

Challenges and Legal Battles:

  • The Gazette faced legal challenges, including multiple libel lawsuits filed by prominent figures such as Governor General Warren Hastings in 1780s and missionary Johann Zacharias Kiernander.
  • He described Hastings in an article as being Robert Clive’s “miserable successor”.
  • Hicky’s bold stance against powerful figures, including scathing critiques of Hastings’ expansion policies, led to his imprisonment and financial ruin due to legal fees and penalties.
  • The publication was ceased on 30 March 1782.

Legacy and Impact:

  • Despite its eventual closure due to legal pressure and financial constraints, ‘Hicky’s Bengal Gazette’ left an indelible mark on Indian journalism.
  • Hicky’s pioneering efforts laid the groundwork for the development of a vibrant media landscape in India, inspiring subsequent generations of journalists and press pioneers.
  • The Gazette’s brief but impactful existence demonstrated the power of the press in advocating for societal change and holding the powerful to account.

PYQ:

[2020] The Vital-Vidhwansak, the first monthly journal to have the untouchable people as its target audience was published by:

(a) Gopal Baba Walangkar

(b) Jyotiba Phule

(c) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

(d) Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Scripting a new tribal identity

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ribal Leaders in the Freedom Struggle

Mains level: Contributions of Tribal Leaders in the Freedom Struggle

Why in the news? 

President of India Droupadi Murmu was being presented a book, Contributions of Tribal Leaders in the Freedom Struggle, at a National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) event.

Contributions of Tribal Leaders in the Freedom Struggle

  • Santhal Revolution: Led by Buddhu Bhagat, Joa Bhagat, and Madara Mahato, the Santhal Revolution was a significant tribal uprising against British colonial rule in 1855. The Kols were joined by other tribes like the Hos, Mundas, and Oraons in this struggle
  • Paika Rebellion: The Paika Rebellion in 1817 was a tribal uprising against the British in Odisha. The Paikas were a warrior class who were fighting for their rights and against the exploitation by the British
  • Kol Revolt: The Kol Revolt of 1831-32 was a tribal uprising against the British in Chhattisgarh. The Kols were fighting for their rights over the land and against the exploitation by the British
  • Birsa Munda: Birsa Munda was a tribal leader from Jharkhand who led the Millenarian Movement against the British in the late 19th century. He mobilized the tribal community against the British and forced them to introduce laws protecting the land rights of tribals
  • Rani Gaidinliu: Rani Gaidinliu was a tribal leader from Nagaland who led a revolt against the British in the early 20th century. She was a spiritual leader who fought for the rights of the Nagas and against the exploitation by the British
  • Laxman Naik: Laxman Naik was a tribal leader from Odisha who led a revolt against the British in the early 20th century. He was a farmer who fought for the rights of the farmers and against the exploitation by the British

Impact of Tribal Revolts during Freedom Struggle: 

  • The tribal revolts during the freedom struggle contributed to the very beginning of the aggression for British Raj. They revolted not against the British but their policy for Indians which were imposed on them without even knowing their culture and its significance. Later this led to the revolt of 1857, which took attention of all over the country

Conclusion: President Droupadi Murmu received the book “Contributions of Tribal Leaders in the Freedom Struggle” at an NCST event, highlighting significant uprisings like the Santhal, Paika, and Kol revolts, emphasizing tribal resistance against British exploitation, influencing broader Indian agitation.

Mains PYQ 

Q Several foreigners made India their homeland and participated in various movements. Analyze their role in the Indian struggle for freedom.(UPSC IAS/2013)

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Lachit Borphukan and his Legend

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lachit Borphukan, Ahom Kingdom, Treaty of Yandaboo

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The Statue of Valour, depicting Ahom general Lachit Borphukan, has become a significant landmark in Meleng-Hollongapar, Jorhat in Assam.
  • The 125-foot statue commemorates Lachit Borphukan’s leadership in the Battle of Saraighat in 1671.

Ahom Kingdom (1228–1826)

  • Establishment: Founded in 1228 in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam by Chaolung Sukapha.
  • Duration: Retained sovereignty for 600 years until annexed by British India in 1826 (Treaty of Yandaboo).
  • Resistance: Despite facing the Mughal Empire’s power, the Ahom Kingdom remained unconquered.
  • Political Structure: Established a new state by supressing the older system of bhuiyans (landlords).
  • Labor System: Relied on forced labor known as paiks for state functions.
  • Social Organization: Society divided into clans or khels, embracing Hinduism and Assamese language alongside tribal beliefs.
  • Cultural Patronage: Supported poets, scholars, and theater; translated Sanskrit texts into local language; composed historical chronicles called buranjis.
  • Military Strategy: King served as supreme commander; core army comprised of paiks; mastered guerrilla warfare and surprise attacks.
  • Key Forts: Included Chamdhara, Saraighat, and Simlagarh, strategically crucial for defense.
  • River Expertise: Mastered construction of boat bridges on the Brahmaputra River.
  • Legacy: Ahom Kingdom’s military prowess, cultural patronage, and political organization left a lasting impact on Assam’s history.

Who was Lachit Borphukan?

  • Lachit Borphukan was a legendary military commander from the northeastern region of India, specifically from the state of Assam. Here are some facts related to him:
Description
Timeline 1622-1672
Dynasty Ahom Dynasty
Mughal Threat Faced the Mughal Empire’s expansion into Assam
Battle of Saraighat
  • Led Ahom forces to victory against the Mughals in 1671;
  • Defended Assam against the Aurangzeb’s forces led by Ram Singh.
Leadership Known for strategic brilliance and guerrilla tactics
Legacy Revered as a symbol of Assamese pride and resistance
Recognition
  • INS Lachit:  Indian Navy’s guided-missile destroyer named in honor;
  • Lachit Divas:  Celebrated annually on November 24th in Assam;
  • Lachit Borphukan Medal: Awarded to the best cadet from the National Defence. Academy (NDA, Pune).

 

PYQ:

[2015]  Who among the following founded a new city on the south bank of a tributary to river Krishna and undertook to rule his new kingdom as the agent of a deity to whom all the land south of the river Krishna was supposed to belong?

(a) Amoghavarsha I

(b) Ballala II

(c) Harihara I

(d) Prataparudra II

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Mahad Satyagraha: A Landmark Event in the Dalit Movement

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mahad (Chavdar Lake) Satyagraha, Annihilation of Caste etc.

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The Mahad Satyagraha is hailed as the foundational event of the Dalit movement, marking the community’s collective rejection of the caste system and assertion of human rights.

About Mahad Satyagraha

  • The Mahad Satyagraha, also known as Chavdar Tale (Lake) Satyagraha, was led by B. R. Ambedkar on 20 March 1927 in Mahad, Raigad District of Maharashtra.
  • Its aim was to assert the right of untouchables to use water from a public tank.
  1. Background:
  • Untouchables (Dalits) were segregated in Indian society and banned from using public water bodies and roads used by other Hindu castes.
  • In August 1923, the Bombay Legislative Council passed a resolution allowing depressed classes to use government-maintained places, but it faced opposition from savarna Hindus.
  • In January 1924, Mahad passed a resolution in its municipal council to enforce the act but failed to implement it due to protests.
  1. Satyagraha:
  • In 1927, Ambedkar launched a satyagraha to assert untouchables’ rights to use water in public places.
  • Mahad was chosen for the event due to its support from ‘caste Hindus’.
  • Surendranath Tipnis, president of the Mahad municipality, invited Ambedkar to hold a meeting there.
  • Ambedkar drank water from the tank, followed by thousands of untouchables.
  • He encouraged Dalit women to abandon customs of untouchability and wear saris like high-caste women, which they embraced.
  • A riot erupted over rumors of Ambedkar planning to enter a Hindu temple, and the tank was purified with cow-urine and cow-dung.
  • Ambedkar planned a second conference in Mahad in December 1927 but faced legal obstacles due to a case filed by caste Hindus.
  • On 25 December 1937, the Bombay High Court ruled that untouchables have the right to use water from the tank.
  1. Legacy:
  • On 19 March 1940, Ambedkar arranged a rally in Mahad to commemorate the Satyagraha as “Empowerment Day.”

Back2Basics: Key Initiatives and Movements Led by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Initiative Location Objective
Temple Entry Movement (1920s-1930s) Various Locations Advocating for the right of Dalits to enter Hindu temples.
Mahad Satyagraha (Chavdar Tale Satyagraha) Mahad, Maharashtra Asserting the rights of untouchables to use water from a public tank.
Kalaram Mandir Movement (1930) Nashik, Maharashtra Demanding temple entry rights for Dalits at the Kalaram Mandir.
Annihilation of Caste (1936) Publication of “Annihilation of Caste,” advocating for the abolition of the caste system.
Formation of Independent Dalit Political Party (Independent Labour Party) (1936) Addressing the political concerns and aspirations of Dalits.
Push for Separate Electorate by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (1932) India Advocating for separate electorates for Dalits to ensure their political representation and empowerment.
Legal Advocacy (1940s-1950s) Drafting of the Hindu Code Bills, contribution to the framing of the Indian Constitution.
Conversion to Buddhism (1956) Nagpur, Maharashtra Symbolizing a rejection of the caste system through mass conversion ceremony to Buddhism.

 


 

PYQ:

[2018] Which one of the following is a very significant aspect of the Champaran Satyagraha?

(a) Active all-India participation of lawyers, students and women in the National Movement

(b) Active involvement of Dalit and Tribal communities of India in the National Movement

(c) Joining of peasant unrest to India’s National Movement

(d) Drastic decrease in the cultivation of plantation crops and commercial crops

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, Rowlatt Act, Hunter Commission

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

On April 13, 1919, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer ordered British troops to open fire on a peaceful gathering in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, leaving a deep scar on India’s collective memory.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

  1. Background: 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 authorized the British government to arrest anybody suspected of terrorist activities.
  • It also authorized 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 of 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.
  1. The day
  • The massacre took place on 13 April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army (Gurkha and Sikh infantry regiments) 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.
  1. 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 of Dyer’s heinous act again set a benchmark of colonial arrogance.

Hunter Commission for Inquiry

  • 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 confused with Hunter Education Commission).
  • The commission inquiry was concluded without any significant conclusion.
  • Still, there are long-standing demands in India that Britain should apologize for the massacre.

PYQ:

[2012] The Rowlatt Act aimed at:

(a) Compulsory economic support to war efforts

(b) Imprisonment without trial and summary procedures for trial

(c) Suppression of the Khilafat Movement

(d) Imposition of restrictions on freedom of the press

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Insights from History: Coalition Governments in Colonial India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Provincial Elections of 1937, GoI Act, 1935, Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • Prime Minister recently suggested a link between the Congress manifesto and the Muslim League (which is responsible for the Partition of India), prompting a political debate.
  • In rebuttal, critics reminded of a coalition governments formed by Hindu Mahasabha in Bengal, Sindh, and North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) in the 1940s with the Muslim League.

Provincial Elections of 1937:

[A] Indian National Congress

  • Congress performed admirably in the 1937 provincial elections, held under the mandate of the Government of India Act of 1935.
  • It won 711 of a total 1,585 provincial assembly seats, with absolute majorities in 5 of the 11 provinces (Madras, Bihar, Orissa, Central Provinces, and United Provinces) and a near-majority in Bombay (86 out of 175).
  • Congress ministries were formed in all of these provinces.
  • Sometime later, the Congress also formed governments in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Assam.

[B] Non-Congress Parties

  • Non-Congress governments were formed in the remaining 3 provinces — Sindh, Punjab, and Bengal.
  • In Sindh, a coalition led by the Sind United Party formed the government; in Punjab, Sikandar Hayat Khan’s Unionist Party won a majority.
  • And in Bengal, Fazlul Huq’s Krishak Praja Party (KPP) formed a coalition government with the Muslim League— even though the Congress was the single largest party with 54 seats.

[C] Religion based Parties

  • Notably, the Muslim League, which claimed to be the sole representative of Indian Muslims, performed abysmally in the elections.
  • The League won just 106 out of the 482 seats allotted to Muslims under separate electorates, and it failed to win even a single seat in the NWFP.
  • The Hindu Mahasabha, which had entered electoral politics in the 1930s under V D Savarkar’s leadership, too fared miserable.

Ideological Alignment and Political Alliances

  • Dr. B.R. Ambedkar noted ideological similarities between the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League, both advocating for the two-nation theory.
  • This ideological convergence paved the way for short-lived political alliances, particularly during the turmoil following Congress’s resignation from provincial ministries in 1939.

Reasons for such Alliance

  • Opposition to Quit India Movement:  When Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement in 1942, the Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha refrained from participating, opting to support the British war effort.
  • Support for British War Efforts: Savarkar, in a letter, instructed Mahasabha members to remain loyal to their positions and not join the movement, while Syama Prasad Mookerjee pledged support to suppress any internal disturbances.
  • Increased Push for Partition: Jinnah, meanwhile, intensified his campaign for Pakistan, capitalizing on the absence of Congress leaders and positioning himself as the sole spokesman for Muslims.

Muslim League: 

  • The All India Muslim League was formed in 1906 in Dhaka, Bengal Presidency, British India.
  • It was established in response to the perceived marginalization and political underrepresentation of Muslims in the Indian National Congress.
  • The founding members of the Muslim League included prominent Muslim leaders such as Nawab Salimullah Khan of Dhaka, Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk, Aga Khan III, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who later emerged as its most influential leader.
  • The primary objective of the Muslim League was to safeguard the political rights and interests of Muslims in India.
  • It advocated for separate electorates for Muslims, reservations in government jobs and legislative bodies, and other measures to protect Muslim identity and interests.

Hindu Mahasabha:

  •  The Hindu Mahasabha was founded in 1915 in Amritsar, Punjab, by Madan Mohan Malaviya and others.
  • It aimed to unite Hindus under one political umbrella and promote Hindu nationalism.
  • Besides Madan Mohan Malaviya, prominent leaders included Lala Lajpat Rai, B. S. Moonje, and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
  • It promoted the idea of Akhand Bharat (Undivided India) and opposed the partition of India on religious lines.

 Implications of this Coalition

  • The period following Congress’s participation in the Quit India Movement saw the rise of the Muslim League’s influence, with League ministries established in several provinces by 1943.
  • Jinnah’s strategy to capitalize on Congress’s absence contributed to his claim as the sole representative of Indian Muslims, furthering the demand for Pakistan.

PYQ:

[2018] In the Federation established by The Government of India Act of 1935, Residuary Power were given to the:

(a) Federal Legislature

(b) Governor General

(c) Provincial Legislature

(d) Provincial Governors

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Mangal Pandey: A Revolutionary Icon of Indian Independence

Why in the news?

It was on April 8th 167 years ago in 1857, Mangal Pandey was hanged.

Who was Mangal Pandey?

  • Mangal Pandey, born on July 19, 1827, in Nagwa village of the Ballia district in present-day Uttar Pradesh.
  • He belonged to the kingdom of Awadh, which had been treacherously annexed by the British in 1856.
  • At the age of 22, he enlisted as a soldier in the British East India Company’s army, joining the 34th Bengal Native Infantry.

Recap of his revolutionary activities

  1. Annexation of Awadh
  • The Begums of Awadh had an understanding with the British, and had been abiding by the terms of the agreement.
  • In spite of this, Awadh was annexed, in February 1856, which was greatly resented by the people.
  • Awadh was a region that supplied large numbers of soldiers of war to the Company’s army.
  • There were 75,000 soldiers from Awadh, and almost every agricultural family in the kingdom had a representative in the army.
  • Whatever happened in Awadh was of immediate concern to the Sepoy.
  1. Rise of Resentment
  • The deposition of the Nawab and the confiscation of the villages of taluqdars during the land revenue settlement of 1856 caused outrage.
  • Some 14,000 petitions were received from the Sepoys about the hardships they faced on account of the revenue system.
  • Mangal Pandey represented the discontent that the misery of British rule had brought upon peasant families.
  1. Flashpoint and the mutiny
  • Mangal Pandey was stationed at Barrackpore, near Calcutta (now Kolkata), where he became involved in a significant event that would later be known as the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.
  • He refused to use the newly introduced Enfield rifle, the cartridges of which had a covering that was believed to be made of animal fat (beef and pork), and which had to be bit open before the cartridges could be used.
  • This was viewed by the soldiers as a direct assault on their religious beliefs by the British who intended to bring an end to their religion and propagate Christianity.
  • On March 29, 1857, Pandey mutinied and fired at his Senior Sergeant Major.
  • He was overpowered and hanged on April 8, 1857, by the order of a Court Martial at Lal Bagan in Barrackpore.
  • His regiment was disbanded, like the 19th infantry at Behrampore, for showing resentment.

PYQ:

[2019] The 1857 Uprising was the culmination of the recurrent big and small local rebellions that had occurred in the preceding hundred years of British Rule. Elucidate.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

100 Years of Vaikom Satyagraha

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vaikom Satyagraha and the people associated

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

This year April 1st marks 100 years of the Vaikom Satyagraha, in Kottayam, Kerala.

About Vaikom Satyagraha

  • Vaikom was the epicentre of the Vaikom Satyagraha, which began in 1924.
  • This movement aimed to challenge the ban imposed on marginalized communities from entering the vicinity of the Vaikom Mahadevar Temple in the princely state of Travancore.
  • It sparked similar temple entry movements across India, advocating for the rights of untouchables and backward castes.
  • It introduced nonviolent public protest as a method of resistance in Kerala.

A Precursor to the Vaikom Satyagraha

  1. Social and Political Developments
  • Backdrop of Social Injustice: Travancore, characterized by feudal and caste-based governance, imposed stringent restrictions on lower castes, denying them entry to temples and public spaces.
  • Emergence of Social Consciousness: By the late 19th century, progressive reforms and missionary activities led to increased awareness and education among lower castes, particularly the Ezhavas.
  • Rise of Educated Elite: Educated individuals from diverse backgrounds, including lower castes, began to challenge social norms and demand equality in opportunities and rights.
  1. Beginning of Agitation
  • Advocacy for Change: Ezhava leader T K Madhavan spearheaded efforts to challenge temple entry restrictions, advocating for direct action to confront discriminatory practices.
  • Influence of Gandhi’s Ideals: Inspired by Gandhi’s principles of non-cooperation, Madhavan sought support from the Indian National Congress (INC) to mobilize a mass movement against untouchability.

Actual Course of Events

  1. Agitation
  • Leaders such as T.K. Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon, and George Joseph spearheaded the agitation.
  • Despite facing resistance and arrests by the police, the Satyagrahis persisted in their protest for over a year, resulting in numerous arrests and jails.
  • Notable figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Chattampi Swamikal, and Sree Narayana Guru extended their support to the movement, which gained nationwide recognition.
  • The involvement of women and support from various regions, including Punjab, highlighted the widespread impact of the Satyagraha.
  1. Suspension:
  • Initially suspended in April 1924 at Gandhi’s suggestion, the movement resumed when attempts to resolve the issue with caste Hindu leaders failed.
  • The absence of leaders like T.K. Madhavan and K.P. Kesava Menon, who were arrested, posed challenges to the movement.
  • V. Ramaswamy Naicker (Periyar) lent support from Tamil Nadu before also being arrested.
  • The resolution for the right to temple entry faced resistance in the Assembly, thwarted by traditionalist support and government pressure.
  1. Aftermath
  • On October 1, 1924, a procession of Savarnas (forward castes) submitted a petition to the Regent Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bai of Travancore, signed by around 25,000 individuals, urging for the temple’s open entry.
  • Gandhi’s meeting with the Regent Maharani and the procession led by Mannath Padmanabhan Nair underscored the growing support for the cause.
  • Eventually, on November 23, 1925, all temple gates were opened to Hindus except the eastern gate, marking a significant victory.
  • The Vaikom Satyagraha laid the groundwork for the temple entry proclamation of Kerala in 1936 and inspired similar movements’ nationwide, promoting social justice and equality.

PYQ:

Satya Shodhak Samaj organized (2016):

(a) a movement for upliftment of tribals in Bihar’

(b) a temple-entry movement in Gujarat

(c) an anti-caste movement in Maharashtra

(d) a peasant movement in Punjab

 

Practice MCQ:

The Vaikom Satyagraha of 1924 was essentially a:

(a) Temple Entry Movement

(b) Peasants’ Uprising

(c) Salt Satyagraha

(d) Swadeshi Movement

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Story of Usha Mehta and the Secret Congress Radio

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Congress Radio, Usha Mehta and other personalities mentioned

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

Who was Usha Mehta (1920-2000)?

  • Usha Mehta was born on March 25, 1920, in Mumbai, India.
  • Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience, Usha Mehta became actively involved in the Indian independence movement from a young age.
  • One of Usha Mehta’s most notable contributions to the freedom struggle was her involvement in the radio broadcasting network known as the “Secret Congress Radio.”
  • She was conferred the Padma Vibhushan, one of India’s highest civilian honours in 1998.

The Secret ‘Congress Radio’

  • On August 8, 1942, the historic Quit India Resolution was passed during the All India Congress Committee meeting in Bombay.
  • In this response, the idea of an underground radio station, known by various names such as the Freedom Radio, the Ghost Radio, or the Congress Radio, was conceived to counter the British-controlled AIR.
  • Usha Mehta, a 22 YO master’s student at Wilson College, became the voice of the Congress Radio.
  • The radio was an expensive endeavour, but funds were procured through various means, including contributions from Mehta’s colleague, Babubhai Khakhar.
  • Radio engineering expert Nariman Abarbad Printer constructed the Congress Radio transmission set.
  • Their first broadcast was on 14 August 1942.
  • Welcome line in her voice: This is the Congress Radio calling on 42.34 from somewhere in India.”
  • In the beginning, they were broadcasting twice a day, in Hindi and English. But they reduced it to just once in the evening between 30 and 8.30 pm.
  • On 12th November 1942, the police raided the radio while Vande Mataram was being played and arrested Mehta and others.

PYQ:

2011: With reference to Indian freedom struggle, Usha Mehta is well-known for-

  1. Running the secret Congress Radio in the wake of Quit India Movement
  2. Participating in the Second Round Table Conference
  3. Leading a contingent of Indian National Army
  4. Assisting in the formation of Interim Government under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

 

2021: With reference to 8th August, 1942 in Indian history, which one of the following statements is correct?

  1. The Quit India Resolution was adopted by the AICC.
  2. The Viceroy’s Executive Council was expanded to include more Indians.
  3. The Congress ministries resigned in seven provinces.
  4. Cripps proposed an Indian Union with full Dominion Status once the Second World War was over

Practice MCQ:

In context to the Secret ‘Congress Radio’ in modern Indian history, consider the following statements:

  1. It was established to supplement the Civil Disobedience Movement of 1930s.
  2. Usha Mehta was the voice of Congress Radio.
  3. It was broadcasted twice a day, in Hindi and English

How many of the given statements is/are correct?

  1. One
  2. Two
  3. Three
  4. None

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Nana Jagannath Shankarseth: The ‘Architect of Mumbai’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nana Jagannath Shankarseth and his contributions

Mains level: NA

Why in the news-

  • The Maharashtra cabinet has resolved to request the Ministry of Railways to rename Mumbai Central station after Nana Jagannath Shankarseth, a revered social reformer, educationist, and philanthropist often hailed as the “architect” of Mumbai.

About Nana Jagannath Shankarseth (1803-1865)

  • Born on February 10, 1803, in Murbad, Thane, into the affluent Murkute family.
  • His father, Shankar Murkute, earned the nickname “Shankar Sheth” due to his success in the jewellery and diamond trade.
  • He contributed in terms of both ideas and money to multiple sectors, to lay a strong foundation for the Bombay City.
  • He was greatly inspired by the legendary merchant and philanthropist Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy.

Contribution of Nana Jagannath Shankarseth

  • Founded the Bombay Association in 1852, the first political organization in Mumbai, fostering a platform for civic engagement and political discourse.
  • Played a pivotal role as one of the founding members of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway in 1853, contributing to India’s infrastructural development.
  • Recognized the importance of education in societal progress and opened the first school for girls in Mumbai in 1849, pioneering educational reform.
  • Co-founded the School Society and the Native School of Bombay, laying the foundation for educational institutions that nurtured future leaders such as Dadabhai Naoroji and Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
  • Established the Bombay Native Education Society in 1822, the first of its kind in Western India, to promote education among the masses.
  • Collaborated with Sir George Birdwood and Dr Bhau Daji in major reconstruction efforts in Mumbai starting in 1857, transforming the city’s urban landscape.
  • Became the first Indian to be nominated to the Bombay Legislative Council in 1861, advocating for policies that improved public welfare and urban amenities.
  • Honored with a marble statue at the Asiatic Society of Mumbai a year after his death in 1865, commemorating his contributions to society.

 


 

Try this PYQ from CSE Prelims 2012:

Q.The most effective contribution made by Dadabhai Naoroji to the cause of Indian National Movement was that he-

  1. exposed the economic exploitation of India by the British
  2. interpreted the ancient Indian texts and restored the self-confidence of Indians
  3. stressed the need for eradication of all the social evils before anything else

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Practice MCQ:

Q. Consider the following events:

He founded the Bombay Association in 1852, the first political organization in Mumbai, fostering a platform for civic engagement and political discourse. Recognizing the importance of education in societal progress, he opened the first school for girls in Mumbai in 1849, pioneering educational reform. He became the first Indian to be nominated to the Bombay Legislative Council in 1861, advocating for policies that improved public welfare and urban amenities.

The above description is mentioned about which of the following personality?

a) Gopal Krishna Gokhale

b) Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde

c) Nana Jagannath Shankarseth

d) Dhondo Keshav Karve

 

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Sabarmati Ashram

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sabarmati Ashram and the associated events

Mains level: NA

sabarmati

In the news

  • Prime Minister’s recent activities, commemorating the 94th anniversary of the Dandi March at the Sabarmati Ashram, mark a significant step towards the redevelopment and expansion of this historic site.

Ashrams Built by Mahatma Gandhi

 

Gandhi set up five settlements during his lifetime — two in South Africa (Phoenix Settlement in Natal, and Tolstoy Farm outside Johannesburg), where he lived from 1893 to 1914, and three in India, where he arrived in January 1915.

 

South Africa Settlements:

  1. Phoenix Settlement in Natal: Founded in 1904, the Phoenix Settlement was established by Gandhi as a communal living space and center for social and political activism. It served as a hub for his Satyagraha campaigns against racial discrimination and injustice in South Africa.
  2. Tolstoy Farm outside Johannesburg: Gandhi established Tolstoy Farm in 1910 as a self-sustaining community inspired by the teachings of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. It served as a refuge for Indian immigrants and a base for organizing resistance against discriminatory laws.

 

Indian Settlements:

  1. Ahmedabad Ashram (Kocharab Ashram): Gandhi’s first ashram in India was established in Kocharab, Ahmedabad, in 1915. It was initially a rented space and was later moved to a larger site on the banks of the Sabarmati River, becoming the Sabarmati Ashram.
  2. Sabarmati Ashram:  Read the article below.
  3. Sevagram Ashram: Established in 1936 near Wardha in Maharashtra, Sevagram Ashram was Gandhi’s final residence in India. It was intended to be a model village based on principles of self-reliance, sustainability, and nonviolence. Gandhi spent the last years of his life here, engaging in various constructive programs and campaigns.

 

Try this PYQ from CSE Mains 2019:

Q. Many voices had strengthened and enriched the nationalist movement during the Gandhian Phase. Elaborate.

About Sabarmati Ashram

  • Founded in 1917 by Mahatma Gandhi, the Sabarmati Ashram holds immense historical significance in India’s struggle for independence and Gandhian philosophy.
  • Situated on the western bank of the Sabarmati River, north of the village of Juna Vadaj in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, the ashram became a focal point for various movements and experiments led by Gandhi.

Key Movements and Initiatives

  1. Champaran Satyagraha (1917): The ashram served as a base for Gandhi’s involvement in the Champaran Satyagraha, a movement against oppressive indigo planters in Bihar.
  2. Khadi Movement (1918): Gandhi initiated the Khadi movement from Sabarmati Ashram, promoting the use of hand-spun cloth as a means to boycott foreign goods and promote self-reliance.
  3. Ahmedabad Mill Strike (1918) and Kheda Satyagraha: Gandhi led the workers’ strike in Ahmedabad and the peasants’ movement in Kheda, both of which were pivotal in India’s struggle for independence.
  4. Non-Cooperation Movement (1920): The ashram played a crucial role in Gandhi’s call for non-cooperation with British authorities, urging Indians to boycott British goods and institutions.
  5. Dandi March (1930): One of the most iconic events in India’s freedom struggle, the Dandi March, commenced from Sabarmati Ashram. Gandhi, along with his followers, marched to Dandi to protest against the salt tax imposed by the British.

Philosophy and Ideals

  • Gandhi envisioned Sabarmati Ashram as a community based on principles of simplicity, self-reliance, and communal living.
  • He emphasized the importance of truth, non-violence (Ahimsa), and Satyagraha (nonviolent resistance) as tools for social and political change.

Activities and Structures

The ashram housed various facilities and structures, including:

  1. Hriday Kunj: Gandhi’s residence at the ashram, where he lived with his wife Kasturba.
  2. Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya: A museum dedicated to Gandhi’s life, showcasing his personal belongings, letters, and photographs.
  3. Magan Niwas: A guesthouse for visitors and volunteers.
  4. Vinoba-Mira Kutir: Residence of Vinoba Bhave and Mira Behn, Gandhian disciples.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Enduring Friendship of Gandhi and Tagore: Exploring Their Legacy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Rabindranath Tagore his literary works

Mains level: NA

In the news

  • Santiniketan celebrates ‘Gandhi Punyaha Din’ on March 10 every year, honoring Gandhi’s teachings on self-reliance and communal harmony.
  • This event highlights the profound friendship between MK Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore that spanned from 1914-15 until Tagore’s passing in 1941.

Try this PYQ from CSE Mains 2016:

Q. Highlight the differences in the approach of Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for freedom.

 About Rabindranath Tagore

Details
Birth Born in Calcutta on 7th May 1861.
About
  • Known as ‘Gurudev’, ‘Kabiguru’, and ‘Biswakabi’.
  • Influential Bengali poet, novelist, and painter.
Literary Contributions
  • Composed over 2000 songs, known as ‘Rabindra Sangeet’.
  • Modernized Bengali prose and poetry.
  • Notable works include Gitanjali, Ghare-Baire, Gora, Manasi, Balaka, Sonar Tori, and Ekla Chalo Re.
  • Established Vishwa-Bharati University.
Awards
  • Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 for Gitanjali.
  • First non-European to receive the Nobel Prize.
  • Awarded knighthood in 1915, renounced in 1919.
Death Passed away on 7th August 1941 in Calcutta.
Quotes
  1. “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the sea.” – “Don’t limit the child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.”
  2. “If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door- or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.”
  3. “Facts are many, but the truth is one”.

Gandhi and Tagore: Genesis of Friendship

  • First Encounter (March 6, 1915): Gandhi’s visit to Santiniketan, West Bengal, where he spent nearly a month, profoundly influenced Tagore’s idyllic school and laid the foundation for their friendship.
  • Shared Ideals: Both Gandhi and Tagore were proponents of education, social reform, and cultural revival, fostering a deep connection rooted in their common vision for India’s future.

Meeting of Two Titans

  • Tagore’s Acclaim: Tagore was already a global figure, having won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, whereas Gandhi was yet to emerge as the leader he would become.
  • Crossing Paths: C F Andrews, recognizing their ideological synergy, facilitated their meeting in Santiniketan, marking the beginning of their enduring friendship.
  • Intellectual Exchange: Their initial encounter sparked lively discussions on spirituality, ethics, and the future of India, setting the stage for a profound intellectual partnership.

Diverse Perspectives and Respectful Disagreements

  • Philosophical Disputes: Gandhi and Tagore engaged in spirited debates on various issues, including social, political, and economic matters, reflecting their diverse perspectives.
  • Respecting Differences: Despite their disagreements, they maintained a deep respect for each other’s viewpoints, fostering a relationship that transcended ideological disparities.
  • Intellectual Integrity: Both leaders valued intellectual honesty and integrity, allowing for open dialogue and constructive criticism, even when their opinions diverged.

A Tale of Mutual Admiration

  • Endearing Nicknames: Tagore referred to Gandhi as “Mahatma,” signifying his reverence for Gandhi’s moral stature, while Gandhi addressed Tagore as “Gurudev,” acknowledging his role as a spiritual guide.
  • Common Ground: Despite their differences, both leaders shared a commitment to truth, non-violence, and service to humanity, which formed the bedrock of their friendship.
  • Shared Vision: Gandhi and Tagore envisioned a free and inclusive India, where diversity was celebrated, and social justice prevailed, inspiring generations to strive for a better future.

Legacy and Influence

  • Historical Reflections: Their friendship reflected an era of profound intellectual exchange and collaboration, shaping India’s socio-cultural fabric during a pivotal period in its history.
  • Modern Interpretations: Scholars continue to analyze their correspondence and interactions, offering insights into the complexity and depth of their relationship, which remains relevant in contemporary discourse.
  • Global Impact: The principles espoused by Gandhi and Tagore continue to resonate globally, inspiring movements for peace, justice, and human rights across the world.

Conclusion

  • The enduring friendship between Gandhi and Tagore stands as a testament to the power of intellectual exchange, mutual respect, and shared ideals.
  • Their bond, characterized by respectful disagreements and a commitment to truth, continues to inspire generations and holds lessons for fostering dialogue and understanding in today’s world.
  • As we reflect on their legacy, we recognize the enduring relevance of their teachings in shaping a more inclusive and compassionate society.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

The Dalai Lama’s and His Succession

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dalai Lama, Tibetan sects of Buddhism

Mains level: NA

dalai lama

In the news

  • The question of reincarnation, typically seen as an esoteric concept, has significant political ramifications concerning the search for a successor to Tibet’s Dalai Lama.
  • As the 88-year-old spiritual leader, Tenzin Gyatso, remains in good health, the anticipation surrounding his succession intensifies, particularly against the backdrop of historical and geopolitical tensions.

Who is the Dalai Lama?

  • The Dalai Lama (a title) is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • He is believed to be the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama and is regarded as an important figure not only in Tibet but also around the world.
  • The Dalai Lama is traditionally both the political and spiritual leader of Tibet, but after China’s occupation of Tibet in 1950, he went into exile in India and since then has been primarily a spiritual leader.
  • The current and 14th Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso, who was born in Tibet in 1935 and has been in exile in India since 1959.

Brief Outline of Tibetan Buddhism

  • Tibetan Buddhism became the predominant religion in Tibet by the 9th century AD, evolving from the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions of Buddhism and incorporating many tantric and shamanic practices.
  • It has four major schools: Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug, with the Janang School being one of the smaller schools that grew as an offshoot of the Sakya School.
  • Since 1640, the Gelug School has been the predominant school of Tibetan Buddhism, and the Dalai Lama belongs to this school.

Hierarchy and Reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism

  • The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth is one of Buddhism’s key beliefs.
  • Tibet’s hierarchical system seemingly emerged in the 13th century, and it was around this time that the first instances of “formally recognizing the reincarnations of lamas” can be found.
  • The Gelug School developed a strong hierarchy and instituted the tradition of succession through reincarnation, with the fifth Grand Lama of the school being conferred the title of Dalai Lama.
  • Several procedures/tests are followed to recognize Tulkus (recognized reincarnations).

Key Issue: Chinese Interference

  • Political Intrigue: The announcement of the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation sparks concerns about Chinese interference, as China seeks to control the succession process to assert dominance over Tibetan culture and politics.
  • International Ramifications: The Dalai Lama’s reincarnation is not only a spiritual matter but also a geopolitical issue, with international stakeholders closely monitoring developments to safeguard Tibetan autonomy and cultural heritage.

Try this PYQ from CSE Prelims 2016:

Q.With reference to the religious history of India, consider the following statements:

  1. The concept of Bodhisattva is central to Hinayana sect of Buddhism.
  2. Bodhisattva is a compassionate one on his way to enlightenment
  3. Bodhisattva delays achieving his own salvation to help all sentient beings on their path to it.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 2 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Who was Ayya Vaikundar?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ayya Vaikundar and his teachings

Mains level: NA

In the news

  • Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi sparked controversy with his recent remarks about Ayya Vaikundar, the 19th-century social reformer.
  • At an event commemorating birth anniversary, the Governor portrayed him as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, tasked with protecting Sanatan Dharma from the influence of the British government.

About Ayya Vaikundar (1809-1851)

  • Born in 1809, Vaikundar is revered as a pioneer of social reform in southern Tamil Nadu.
  • His teachings emphasized equality, fraternity, and the abolition of caste-based discrimination, challenging entrenched social hierarchies.
  • Vaikundar’s initiatives, such as organizing community eateries for people of all backgrounds and advocating for shared water resources, aimed to dismantle caste barriers and promote inclusivity.

Contributions to Social Equality

  • Community Initiatives: Vaikundar introduced revolutionary practices like Samapanthi-bhojana and Muthirikinarus to foster social cohesion and challenge caste-based segregation.
  • Teachings: He believed in the concept of “pure love” (in Tamil, “piranthu”) as the ultimate goal of life. According to him, true love is selfless, unconditional, and pure, and it is the key to achieving inner peace and happiness.
  • Scriptural References: His teachings are often rooted in Tamil scriptures such as the Tirukkural and the Nalayira Divya Prabandham. He interpreted these texts in a way that emphasized love, devotion, and spiritual growth.
  • Community Practices: His followers engage in communal practices such as congregational worship, singing devotional songs (Nadai), and participating in spiritual gatherings known as “Ayyavazhi festivals.”
  • Religious Reforms: He advocated for inclusive religious practices, such as Thottu Namam, which symbolized equality before divinity, regardless of caste.
  • Educational Empowerment: He promoted education for lower castes, established community worship spaces, and simplified marriage customs to empower marginalized communities.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Pakistan National Day to be celebrated in New Delhi

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lahore Resolution (1940)

Mains level: NA

In the news

  • Pakistan’s decision to resume its National Day (March 23) celebrations in New Delhi after a four-year gap due to the pandemic and strained bilateral relations reflects a significant diplomatic gesture.
  • Let’s delve into the historical significance of Pakistan National Day, centered around the Lahore Resolution, and understand how it is observed in New Delhi.

Observance of Pakistan National Day in New Delhi

  • Diplomatic Event: The Pakistan National Day is observed at the Pakistan embassy complex in New Delhi, typically attended by foreign diplomats and Indian dignitaries.
  • Symbolic Gestures: The event features the playing of national anthems of both countries and addresses by the Pakistan high commissioner and invited guests, fostering diplomatic ties.

About the Lahore Resolution (1940)

  • Historical Context: The Lahore Resolution was adopted by the All-India Muslim League during its session in Lahore from March 22 to March 24, 1940.
  • Core Objective: It formally called for an independent state for India’s Muslims, laying the groundwork for the creation of Pakistan.
  • Constitutional Transformation (1956): Pakistan officially adopted its first Constitution on March 23, coinciding with the Lahore Resolution, signifying the transition from the Dominion of Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
  • Symbolic Structure: The Minar-e-Pakistan, erected at the site of the Lahore Resolution, commemorates this historic event, with the resolution’s text inscribed at its base.

Key Elements of the Lahore Resolution

  • Geographical Division: The resolution emphasized the formation of “Independent States” in regions where Muslims were in a majority, particularly in the North-Western and Eastern Zones of India.
  • Safeguarding Minority Rights: It called for the protection of religious, cultural, economic, and political rights of Muslims and other minorities throughout India.

Historical Context and Lead-up to the Lahore Resolution

  • Growing Dissent: The resolution reflected the culmination of growing demands for Muslim autonomy within India, amid concerns over representation and safeguarding of rights.
  • Impactful Events: The session coincided with the Khaksar tragedy and featured a pivotal address by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, solidifying his leadership role in the movement for a separate Muslim state.
  • Government of India Act, 1935: The Lahore Resolution emerged against the backdrop of the GoI Act, 1935, which granted separate electorates to Muslims and served as a catalyst for the demand for Muslim autonomy.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2012:

Q.The Lahore Session of the Indian National Congress (1929) is very important in history, because-

  1. The Congress passed a resolution demanding complete independence
  2. The rift between the extremists and moderates was resolved in that Session
  3. A resolution was passed rejecting the two-nation theory in that Session

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3

(c) 1 and 3

(d) None of the above

 

Post your responses here.
0
Please leave a feedback on thisx

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

200 Years of Kittur Uprising: Commemorating Rani Chennamma

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kittur Uprising, Rani Chennamma

Mains level: Women led armed freedom struggles

kittur

Introduction

  • In 1824, a fleet of 20,000 British soldiers attempted to invade the former princely state of Karnataka, positioning themselves at the foothills of the Kittur fort.
  • However, Rani Chennamma, the Queen of Kittur, led a valiant resistance, marking one of the earliest woman-led anti-colonial struggles in India.

Kittur Uprising: Historical Context

  • Background: Rani Chennamma’s rebellion against the British East India Company in 1824 is celebrated as a significant event in Karnataka’s political history.
  • Revolt Catalyst: The Company’s refusal to recognize Shivalingappa, adopted as the successor of Kittur under the ‘doctrine of lapse’, triggered the conflict.
  • Military Confrontation: Rani Chennamma led the Kittur army in a fierce battle against the British forces, resulting in the death of British official John Thackery.

Doctrine of Lapse

  • Introduced by Lord Dalhousie in 1848, the Doctrine of Lapse aimed at expanding British territories in India.
  • The policy was based on the principle that a princely state without a suitable heir should become part of the British Empire.
  • Applied to princely states where the ruler died without a natural or legally adopted male heir, enabling the British to annex those states.
  • The policy was seen as illegitimate by many Indian rulers and played a role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
  • Several states annexed due to this Doctrine, include Satara (1848), Jaitpur (1849), Sambalpur (1849), Udaipur (1850), Jhansi (1853), and Nagpur (1854).
  • Prior to the Doctrine of Lapse, princely states had a traditional practice of selecting an heir from a group of candidates known as bhajans.
  • The policy was abandoned in 1859, two years after the end of the Company Rule in India.

Legacy of Rani Chennamma

  • Political Leadership: Rani Chennamma’s role as an astute administrator and seasoned stateswoman is highlighted in historical records.
  • Popular Perception: Despite her contributions, Rani Chennamma’s significance in national consciousness emerged later, as Karnataka became a state much later than other regions.
  • Historical Interpretation: Folklore and local traditions fondly remember Rani Chennamma’s bravery and resilience, portraying her as a protector and guardian in Kannada lavanis or folk songs.

Post-Rebellion Period

  • Imprisonment and Death: Following the British capture of Kittur Fort in 1824, Rani Chennamma and her family were imprisoned. She passed away in captivity in 1829.
  • Historical Records: Historians emphasize Rani Chennamma’s commitment to serving her people, even during her imprisonment, as evidenced by her efforts to support her family and people.

Commemoration and Contemporary Relevance

  • Naanoo Rani Chennamma Campaign: Social groups across India are organizing a national campaign on February 21, commemorating Rani Chennamma’s rebellion.
  • Campaign Objectives: The campaign aims to mobilize women against patriarchal, anti-democratic, and casteist forces, invoking Rani Chennamma’s memory as a symbol of resistance and empowerment.
  • Political Significance: The campaign underscores the need for gender equality, representation, and social justice, drawing inspiration from Rani Chennamma’s legacy of courage and leadership.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

India nominates 12 forts of Marathas for UNESCO World Heritage List

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UNESCO World Heritage List

Mains level: Maratha Military Landscapes

maratha

Introduction

  • India’s nomination for the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2024-25 is the “Maratha Military Landscapes of India.”
  • This nomination encompasses twelve distinct components, each holding a unique place in history and culture.
  • Together, they illuminate the strategic military prowess of the Maratha rulers during the 17th to 19th centuries.

Maratha Military Landscapes

  • Selecting the Twelve: Maharashtra boasts more than 390 forts, with only twelve chosen for the Maratha Military Landscapes. Among them, eight are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, including Shivneri, Lohgad, Raigad, Suvarnadurg, Panhala, Vijaydurg, Sindhudurg, and Gingee. Salher, Rajgad, Khanderi, and Pratapgarh are safeguarded by the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Maharashtra.
  • Diverse Fort Types: These forts encompass hill forts, hill-forest forts, hill-plateau forts, coastal forts, and island forts, each with its distinct historical and geographical significance.
  • Historical Significance: These forts, scattered across varied geographical and physiographic regions, exemplify the Maratha rulers’ exceptional fortification and military strategies.

Maratha Military Ideology

  • The origins of Maratha Military ideology can be traced back to the 17th century during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (circa 1670 CE).
  • This enduring legacy continued through subsequent rules, including the Peshwa rule until 1818 CE.

Nomination and Criteria

The Maratha Military Landscapes of India is nominated in the category of cultural criteria, specifically under:

    1. Criterion (iii): Bearing exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or civilization.
    2. Criterion (iv): Exemplifying outstanding architectural or technological ensembles representing significant stages in human history.
    3. Criterion (vi): Tangibly associated with events, traditions, beliefs, and works of universal significance.

India’s Rich UNESCO Heritage

  • Existing World Heritage Sites: India currently boasts 42 World Heritage Sites, comprising 34 cultural sites, seven natural sites, and one mixed site.
  • Maharashtra’s Contribution: Maharashtra contributes significantly to India’s heritage with six World Heritage Sites, including Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Elephanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai, and the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala (in the natural category).
  • A Cultural Gem: The Maratha Military Landscapes of India, included in the Tentative List of World Heritage sites in 2021, stands as Maharashtra’s sixth cultural property nominated for inclusion in the prestigious World Heritage List.

Back2Basics: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Description
UNESCO World Heritage Sites Landmarks or areas selected by UNESCO for their cultural, historical, scientific, or other significant value, legally protected by international treaties.
Importance World Heritage Sites represent collective and preservative interests of humanity, signifying remarkable accomplishments and intellectual history.
Selection Criteria Sites must be already-classified landmarks, unique and significant culturally or physically, such as ancient ruins, historical structures, cities, monuments, etc.
Conservation World Heritage Sites require practical conservation to protect them from risks like trespassing, uncontrolled access, or administrative negligence.
World Heritage Committee Selects and monitors World Heritage Sites, manages the World Heritage Fund, and provides financial assistance. Composed of 21 states parties elected for a four-year term.
Membership India is not a member of the World Heritage Committee.

Note: “States parties” refer to the countries that have ratified the World Heritage Convention and participate in the decision-making process.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Why was January 26 chosen to be India’s Republic Day?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Republic Day

Mains level: Read the attached story

Introduction

  • On January 26, India celebrates Republic Day, marking the day when its Constitution came into effect in 1950.
  • However, the roots of this celebration trace back to January 26, 1930, when India made the historic “Poorna Swaraj” declaration, signifying its quest for complete independence from British rule.

Context of the 1920s

  • Non-Cooperation Movement: The 1920s witnessed the aftermath of the Non Cooperation Movement and the Chauri Chaura incident, which prompted Mahatma Gandhi to temporarily halt non-violent protests.
  • Rise of Leaders: This period saw the emergence of notable leaders like Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Vallabhai Patel, and C. Rajagopalachari, setting the stage for India’s future freedom struggle.

Simon Commission and Nehru Report

  • Simon Commission: In 1927, British authorities appointed the Simon Commission to discuss political reforms in India, sparking nationwide protests with slogans like “Simon Go Back.”
  • Nehru Report: In response, the Indian National Congress (INC) established its own commission under Motilal Nehru, advocating dominion status for India within the British Empire.

Internal Disagreements: Dominion or Republic?

  • Dominion Status Debate: While the Nehru Report called for dominion status, leaders like Subhash Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru favored complete independence, fearing that dominion status would align India with colonial exploitation in the British Empire.
  • Change in Gandhi’s Views: Initially supporting dominion status, Mahatma Gandhi’s stance evolved as he began advocating for complete independence.

Irwin Declaration and Backtracking

  • Irwin Declaration: In 1929, Viceroy Irwin vaguely promised dominion status for India, which sparked hope among Indians but faced opposition in Britain.
  • Backtracking: Under pressure from Britain, Irwin retracted his promise during a meeting with Indian leaders, leading to growing unity within the INC for complete independence.

Declaration of Poorna Swaraj

  • Lahore Session of INC: In December 1929, during the Lahore Session of the INC, the “Poorna Swaraj” resolution was passed, calling for complete independence from British rule.
  • Official Promulgation: On January 26, 1930, this declaration of independence was officially announced, marking a pivotal moment in India’s freedom struggle.
  • Nonviolent Protest: The resolution also affirmed the Gandhian principles of nonviolent protest, which became integral to the subsequent struggle for independence.

Republic Day in Post-Independence India

  • Celebrating Independence: From 1930 until India’s independence in 1947, January 26 was celebrated as “Independence Day” or “Poorna Swaraj Day,” symbolizing India’s commitment to sovereignty.
  • Constitution Adoption: When India adopted its Constitution, leaders chose January 26 for Republic Day, as it held historical significance and aligned with the ideals of complete independence as articulated in the “Poorna Swaraj” declaration.
  • Symbolism: Today, Republic Day commemorates India’s journey to self-rule and reflects the principles enshrined in its Constitution.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Somnath Temple: A Historical Perspective

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Somnath Temple

Mains level: Read the attached story

somnath

Introduction

  • The inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya on January 22, 2024, has sparked discussions about the role of politics and religion in India.
  • In this historical analysis, we delve into the lesser-known aspects of another significant temple, the Somnath Temple, to understand its complex historical background and the British influence on its perception.

Somnath, Till 1947

  • Historical Significance: Located in Prabhas Patan, Veraval, Gujarat, Somnath is a revered Hindu pilgrimage site.
  • Temple’s Legacy: The temple is known as the “holy place of the First Aadi Jyotirling Shree Somnath Mahadev” and holds religious significance.
  • Maratha Queen’s Effort: In 1782, Maratha queen Ahalyabai Holkar built a small temple at the site, but the grandeur of the original was not restored.

Somnath’s Decline

  • Historical Attacks: The temple faced numerous attacks throughout history, including the devastating raid by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1026 CE.
  • Diverse Rulers: While some Muslim rulers permitted worship at the temple, such as Akbar in the sixteenth century, others, like Aurangzeb, ordered its destruction in 1706.
  • Abul Fazl’s Remark: Historian Abul Fazl described Mahmud of Ghazni’s raid as “the plunder of the virtuous,” acknowledging the temple’s significance.
  • British Intervention: In 1842, British Governor General Lord Ellenborough used the “gates of Somnath” as a symbol of avenging an insult during an Afghanistan expedition.

After Independence

  • Junagadh’s Accesion to Pakistan: After Independence, the Nawab of Junagadh attempted to accede to Pakistan, leading to unrest.
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s Decision: On November 12, 1947, Patel announced the reconstruction of Somnath, endorsed by the Union Cabinet.
  • Mahatma Gandhi’s Suggestion: Gandhi proposed that the temple’s funding should come from the public, leading to the creation of a Trust under K M Munshi.

Nehru’s Opposition to the Inauguration

  • Political Implications: Nehru opposed President Rajendra Prasad’s participation in the temple’s spectacular opening.
  • Concerns about Secularism: Nehru expressed reservations about the government’s involvement in a ceremony with potential political and revivalist implications.
  • Financial Concerns: He criticized the Saurashtra government’s contribution to the event, citing austerity measures and economic challenges.
  • Secular State: Nehru emphasized the importance of India being a secular state and not associating with religious events.
  • Opposition to External Affairs Circular: He objected to a circular requesting the collection of water, soil, and twigs from foreign countries for the ceremony.

Conclusion

  • The story of Somnath temple’s revival encapsulates India’s complex journey through history, politics, and religion.
  • It highlights the delicate balance between preserving historical heritage and upholding the principles of a secular state.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Nashik’s Kalaram Mandir: Religious and Social Significance

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kalaram Mandir's Legacy

Mains level: Read the attached story

Kalaram Mandir

Introduction

  • The Kalaram Mandir, located on the banks of the Godavari in Nashik’s Panchavati area, has recently garnered attention with visits from prominent political leaders, including Prime Minister.
  • This temple, steeped in historical, religious, and social significance, has been a focal point for major political and social movements in India.

Kalaram Mandir’s Legacy

  • Temple’s Name and Idol: The temple gets its name from the black statue of Lord Ram (‘Kala Ram’ means ‘Black Ram’). The sanctum sanctorum houses statues of Ram, Sita, Lakshman, and a black idol of Hanuman.
  • Construction and Features: Built-in 1792 by Sardar Rangarao Odhekar, the temple features 14 steps representing Ram’s years of exile and 84 pillars symbolizing the cycle of rebirth in Hinduism.
  • Historical Significance: The temple is renowned for its association with the epic Ramayana, where Lord Ram, along with Sita and Lakshman, is said to have spent time during their exile.

Panchavati’s Role in the Ramayana

  • Significance in the Epic: Panchavati, the area where the temple is located, is significant in the Ramayana. It’s believed to be the site where Sita was abducted by Ravan, leading to the epic war in Lanka.
  • Name Origin: The name ‘Panchavati’ is derived from the presence of five banyan trees, making the region auspicious according to the epic.

Temple as a Site of Social Reform

  • Dalit Satyagraha: In 1930, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and social activist Pandurang Sadashiv Sane (Sane Guruji) led a historic agitation at the Kalaram Mandir, demanding temple entry rights for Dalits.
  • Ambedkar’s Protest: The protest involved a sit-in outside the temple, with participants singing songs and raising slogans for equality.
  • Continued Relevance: The temple remains a symbol of the struggle for Dalit rights, highlighted by Uddhav Thackeray’s plan to visit on the day of the Ram temple consecration in Ayodhya.

Political Significance

  • Recent Political Visits: The temple has seen visits from major political figures, reflecting its continued relevance in contemporary politics and social issues.
  • Symbol of Unity and Equality: Leaders visiting the temple often emphasize its role in symbolizing unity and the fight for social justice in India.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Kharsawan Massacre of 1948: A Tragic Chapter in Jharkhand’s History

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kharsawan Massacre

Mains level: Read the attached story

Kharsawan

Central Idea

  • On January 1, 1948, the town of Kharsawan in present-day Jharkhand witnessed a massacre reminiscent of what happened in Jallianwala Bagh in 1919.
  • Police opened fire at a crowd gathered for a protest and the weekly haat (market), killing hundreds, or by some accounts, thousands of Adivasis.

Kharsawan Massacre: A Background

  • Since the creation of the Bihar and Orissa Province in 1912, Adivasis in the region sought a separate state, reflecting their unique culture and grievances.
  • This demand gained momentum over the years, with the Simon Commission acknowledging the distinct nature of the region in 1930.
  • In 1938, the Adivasi Mahasabha was established to further this cause, led by prominent leader Jaipal Singh Munda.

Kharsawan’s Merger Controversy

  • Merger with Orissa: In 1947, Kharsawan, a princely state with a significant Odia-speaking population, decided to join Orissa during India’s princely states’ integration.
  • Adivasi Opposition: However, most Adivasis opposed this merger, desiring a separate state instead.

The Massacre

  • Protest Gathering: On January 1, 1948, a large gathering was organized in Kharsawan to protest the merger, coinciding with the weekly market day. Over 50,000 people, including those from distant villages, assembled, many to see Jaipal Munda, who was expected but did not arrive.
  • Police Open Fire: The large crowd and tense atmosphere led the Orissa military police to open fire, resulting in a massacre. The exact number of casualties remains unclear, with estimates ranging from a few dozen to several thousand.
  • Aftermath: The bodies were disposed of in a well and the jungle, and many injured were left untreated. The incident remains a dark and unresolved chapter in Indian history.

Legacy

  • Uncertain Death Toll: Official records state 35 deaths, but other sources, like P.K. Deo’s “Memoir of a Bygone Era,” suggest numbers as high as 2,000.
  • Lack of Accountability: No definitive report or accountability for the massacre has been established.
  • Memorial and Remembrance: A memorial in Kharsawan serves as a reminder of this tragedy, with political leaders often visiting to pay respects.

Conclusion

  • The Kharsawan massacre is a poignant reminder of the complexities and tragedies during India’s transition to independence, particularly for marginalized communities like the Adivasis.
  • It underscores the unresolved issues of tribal rights and recognition in India’s history.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Indian National Congress (INC): From Foundation to Present Day

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: INC, Important Sessions

Mains level: Read the attached story

inc

Central Idea

  • On December 28, 1885, the Indian National Congress (INC) was established, marking the beginning of a significant journey in Indian politics.
  • The INC’s journey from influencing British policy to leading India’s nationalist movement, dominating post-independence politics, and its current decline offers a rich political narrative.

Indian National Congress: Inception in 1885

  • Founding by AO Hume: Allan Octavian Hume, an English bureaucrat, founded the INC to advocate for greater self-governance in India.
  • First Session: The inaugural session in Bombay saw 72 reformers, journalists, and lawyers unite, aiming not for independence but to influence British policies favorably for Indians.
  • Safety Valve Theory: The INC initially served as a platform for Indians to express grievances, seeking to unify diverse population segments and regenerate the nation across various dimensions.

Politics of Petitions

  • Early Challenges: The Congress faced criticism from both the British and Indians; the former for disrupting the status quo and the latter for its passive resistance approach.
  • Composition and Critique: Dominated by educated, upper-class individuals, the INC was often seen as too moderate and not sufficiently representative of all Indians.
  • Internal Divisions: By 1906, ideological differences led to a split between the moderates (Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Surendranath Banerjea) and the extremists (Bal Gangadhar Tilak), particularly over responses to the Bengal Partition.

Leadership under Mahatma Gandhi

  • Reunification and Transformation: The INC, under Gandhi’s influence from 1915, transformed into a mass movement, focusing on social issues like caste discrimination and poverty.
  • Diverse Membership: Despite its Hindu upper-caste dominance, the party included members from various ethnic and religious backgrounds.
  • Purna Swaraj Declaration: At the 1929 Lahore session, the INC, under Jawaharlal Nehru’s presidency, committed to complete independence, a goal achieved in 1947 but marred by Partition.

Dominance in Post-Independence India

  • Electoral Success: The INC’s legacy and organizational strength led to victories in the first six general elections.
  • Policy Direction: Under Nehru, the party promoted secularism, socialist economics, and non-aligned foreign policy.
  • Internal Power Struggles: Post-Nehru, internal conflicts emerged, notably between Indira Gandhi and the party’s old guard, leading to a split into Congress (R) and Congress (O).

Onset of Decline

  • Electoral Setbacks: The Emergency period (1975-77) led to the INC’s first national electoral defeat in 1977.
  • Fluctuating Fortunes: While it regained power, the 1989 loss marked the end of its dominance, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerging as a strong alternative.
  • Recent Struggles: The INC’s significant reduction in parliamentary strength in the 2014 and 2016 elections underscores its ongoing decline.

Back2Basics: Important Sessions of INC

  • 1896, Calcutta: Presided over by Rahimtulla M. Sayani, where the national song “Vande Mataram” was sung for the first time.
  • 1906, Calcutta: Presided over by Dadabhai Naoroji, where the goal of Swaraj (self-rule) was formally adopted.
  • 1917, Calcutta: Annie Besant became the first woman president of the INC.
  • 1924, Belgaum: The only session presided over by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • 1937, Faizpur: The first session held in a rural area, reflecting the INC’s commitment to rural issues and agrarian reform.
  • 1938, Haripura: Subhas Chandra Bose elected as President, which marked a shift towards a more radical approach in the freedom struggle.
  • 1940, Ramgarh: Last session presided over by Mahatma Gandhi; emphasized on individual Satyagraha.
  • 1955, Avadi (Madras): Adoption of the ‘Avadi Resolution’ which called for a socialist pattern of society.
  • 1964, Bhubaneswar: First session after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru, marking a new era in the party’s leadership.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Evolution of Passports in the Context of ‘Dunki’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Evolution of Passports

Mains level: NA

Passports

Central Idea

  • A recent Bollywood movie ‘Dunki’ addresses the complex issue of immigration.
  • The term “donkey journey” in the title refers to the perilous routes taken by people lacking legal permits or financial means to immigrate.
  • The film highlights that the current system of visas and passports is a relatively recent development, dating back about 70 years.

Historical Perspective on Passports

  • Early Forms of Passports: Passports, serving as identity proofs and travel permits, have existed in various forms for centuries.
  • Biblical Reference: The Book of Nehemiah mentions King Artaxerxes of ancient Persia providing letters for safe passage, akin to modern passports.
  • European Documentation: In France and the United Kingdom, systems similar to modern passports were in place well before the French Revolution of 1789.

The French Passport System

  • Internal and Overseas Passports: France required internal passports for domestic travel and overseas passports for foreign trips.
  • State Control and Regulation: The system was also used to regulate skilled workers and prevent the entry of potential troublemakers.

Emergence of Modern Passports

  • Shift in India: Before World War I, India did not issue passports, but the British government introduced mandatory passports under the Defence of India Act (1914 to 1918).
  • Global Changes Post-World Wars: The need for secure borders during the World Wars led to a global shift in the perception and use of passports.
  • British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act: This 1914 Act in Britain consolidated laws related to citizenship and introduced modern passport features.

Standardization and Regulation

  • League of Nations’ Involvement: In 1920, the League of Nations aimed to standardize passport systems, with the British model becoming widely adopted.
  • US Immigration Laws and Passports: The US introduced passport laws in the 1920s, coinciding with immigration restrictions from Asia.

Public Reception and Cultural Impact

  • Personal Discomfort: In the US and UK, some people found the detailed physical descriptions and identity verification in passports intrusive.
  • Media Attention: The requirement for prominent individuals, including President Woodrow Wilson, to have passports garnered significant media interest.

Conclusion

  • Beyond Wartime Necessity: Initially intended as a wartime tool, passports have become an integral part of modern citizenship and international travel.
  • Continued Evolution: The history of passports, as explored in ‘Dunki’, reflects the ongoing evolution of identity verification and border control in response to global socio-political changes.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Decoding the Annexation of Goa: Operation Vijay and Historical Context

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Goan Liberation

Mains level: Read the attached story

goa portuguese

Central Idea

  • Liberation of Goa: On December 19, 1961, India successfully annexed Goa, ending years of Portuguese colonial rule.
  • Criticism of Nehru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of not supporting Goan satyagrahis and delaying military action.

Goa’s Colonization: A Historical Overview

  • Portuguese Rule: Goa became a Portuguese colony in 1510 under Admiral Afonso de Albuquerque.
  • Long Colonial Encounter: For over four centuries, Goa was a focal point of regional and global power struggles, leading to a unique Goan identity.
  • Nationalist Sentiment: The early 20th century saw a rise in nationalist sentiment against Portuguese rule, paralleling India’s anti-British movement.

Beginning of the Freedom Movement

  • Goan Nationalism: Tristao de Braganza Cunha, hailed as the father of Goan nationalism, founded the Goa National Congress in 1928.
  • Lohia’s Influence: In 1946, Ram Manohar Lohia’s rally in Goa galvanized the freedom movement, advocating civil liberties and integration with India.
  • Armed Resistance: Groups like the Azad Gomantak Dal (AGD) advocated for an armed struggle for liberation.

Recognition and Legal Status of Goa’s Annexation

  • Supreme Court’s Recognition: The Supreme Court of India validated the annexation, dismissing the law of occupation’s applicability.
  • Portugal’s Acknowledgment: In 1974, Portugal recognized Indian sovereignty over Goa through a retroactive treaty.
  • International Law: Under jus cogens, forceful annexations post-UN Charter are deemed illegal, but Goa’s annexation is an exception.

Why Goa remained under Portuguese Rule Post-1947?

  • Nehru’s Peace Image: Nehru avoided military action to maintain his global peace leader image.
  • Partition’s Aftermath: The trauma of Partition and the Indo-Pak war diverted India’s focus.
  • International Concerns: There were concerns about internationalizing the issue.
  • Lack of Internal Demand: Gandhi believed more groundwork was needed to unify diverse political voices in Goa.

Nehru’s Dilemma and Delay in Military Action

  • Global Image and Peaceful Methods: Nehru prioritized India’s global standing and exhausted diplomatic options.
  • Portugal’s NATO Strategy: Portugal’s reclassification of Goa aimed to bring it under NATO’s protection.
  • Indigenous Push for Liberation: Nehru balanced diplomatic efforts with supporting indigenous liberation movements.

Factors Leading to the 1961 Military Offensive

  • Portuguese Aggression: The 1955 firing on satyagraha led India to sever ties with Portugal.
  • India’s Decolonization Leadership: India’s role in global anti-colonial movements intensified pressure to liberate Goa.
  • African Nations’ Criticism: African criticism at a 1961 seminar highlighted the need to dismantle Portuguese colonialism.
  • Decisive Military Action: These factors culminated in Operation Vijay, a swift military campaign liberating Goa in less than two days.

Conclusion

  • End of Colonial Rule: The annexation marked the end of Portuguese colonialism in India.
  • Historical Significance: Goa’s liberation remains a pivotal event, symbolizing the culmination of India’s struggle against colonialism and the unification of its territories.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Bhagat Singh’s Bombing of Delhi Central Assembly

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bhagat Singh

Mains level: Read the attached story

bhagat singh

Central Idea

  • A serious security breach occurred in the Indian Parliament when two individuals jumped into the Lok Sabha chamber, releasing yellow smoke.
  • Police sources indicated that the act, involving a total of six individuals, was apparently inspired by the revolutionary Bhagat Singh.

Bhagat Singh’s Historic Act in 1929

  • Central Assembly Incident: Over 94 years ago, Bhagat Singh, along with Batukeshwar Dutt, threw bombs and pamphlets in Delhi’s Central Assembly, challenging the British Empire.
  • Objective: Their act was not aimed at causing harm but to protest against the lack of autonomy under the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms and to voice against repressive measures.

1929 ‘Indian Parliament’ and Revolutionary Motives

  • Political Climate: The period saw Indian nationalists dissatisfied with the limited power under British rule, leading to revolutionary movements.
  • HSRA’s Stance: The Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA), led by Chandrashekhar Azad and involving Bhagat Singh, sought to oppose the facade of an Indian Parliament run by the British.
  • Pamphlet’s Message: The HSRA aimed to ‘make the deaf hear’, using their act as a symbolic protest against the British administration.

Fateful Day: April 8, 1929

  • Viceroy’s Proclamation: The incident coincided with the Viceroy’s enactment of controversial bills, despite opposition in the Assembly.
  • Well-Planned Action: Bhagat Singh and Dutt conducted reconnaissance and executed their plan while dressed in khaki, throwing bombs and pamphlets into the Assembly.
  • Immediate Arrest: Following their slogan-shouting and bomb-throwing, both revolutionaries were arrested as per their plan.

Aftermath: Trial and Sentencing

  • Response to Criticism: Bhagat Singh and Dutt defended their actions, emphasizing the sanctity of human life and the moral justification of their cause.
  • Trial and Sentencing: A month later, both were sentenced to life imprisonment. Bhagat Singh later faced additional charges leading to his execution in 1931.

Conclusion

  • Echoes of History: The recent security breach in the Lok Sabha, inspired by Bhagat Singh’s act, reflects a continued legacy of protest in India.
  • Legacy of Bhagat Singh: The incident serves as a reminder of Bhagat Singh’s enduring influence in Indian history, symbolizing resistance and the fight for justice.
  • Contemporary Relevance: While the motives of the recent perpetrators are still under investigation, their actions highlight ongoing issues in India, from regional concerns to farmers’ rights, resonating with Bhagat Singh’s revolutionary spirit.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: All Indian Forward Bloc (AIFB)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Forward Bloc, Netaji's split from INC

Mains level: Read the attached story

Forward Bloc

Central Idea

  • A veteran leader’s centenary who was associated with Netaji Bose’s All Indian Forward Bloc (AIFB), was celebrated.

All Indian Forward Bloc (AIFB)

Details
Foundation May 3, 1939 by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at Makur near Unnao (Uttar Pradesh)
Original Purpose To consolidate left-wing elements within the Indian National Congress and develop an alternative leadership
Key Early Members S.S. Kavishar (Vice-President), Lal Shankarlal (General Secretary), Vishwambhar Dayalu Tripathi, Khurshed Nariman, Annapurniah, Senapati Bapat, Hari Vishnu Kamath, Pasumpon U. Muthuramalingam Thevar, Sheel Bhadra Yagee, Satya Ranjan Bakshi
First All India Conference June 20-22, 1940, in Nagpur; declared as a socialist political party
Publication “Forward Bloc” newspaper started by Netaji in August 1939
Bose’s Arrest and Exile Arrested in July 1940, escaped in January 1941, sought support in the Soviet Union and Germany
World War II Activities Continued anti-British activities in India, notably in Bihar, without direct coordination with Bose or INA
Post-War Reorganization Reorganized in February 1946 in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh; declared as a socialist party
1946 Elections Contested elections to the Constituent Assembly and provincial legislatures; won several seats
Arrah Conference 2nd All India Conference in January 1947 in Arrah, Bihar
Post-Independence Status Re-established as an independent political party after India’s independence

 

Try this PYQ:

Who among the following were the founders of the “Hind Mazdoor Sabha” established in 1948?

(a) B. Krishna Pillai, E.M.S. Namboodiripad and K.C. George

(b) Jayaprakash Narayan, Deen Dayal Upadhyay and M.N. Roy

(c) C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, K. Kamaraj and Veeresalingam Pantulu

(d) Ashok Mehata, T.S. Ramanujan and G.G. Mehata

 

Post your answers here.
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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Kazi Nazrul Islam and his Iconic Song

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kazi Nazrul Islam

Mains level: NA

Kazi Nazrul Islam

Central Idea

  • A movie-maker has issued an apology for the unintended distress caused by its rendition of the iconic song “Karar Oi Louho Kopat” penned by Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam in 1922.

Who was Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976)?

  • Kazi Nazrul Islam was born on May 24, 1899, in Churulia, a village in the Burdwan district of West Bengal, India.
  • He was a famous poet, writer, and musician from Bengal.
  • He is well-known for his songs, which are called “Nazrulgeeti.”
  • These songs are very popular and loved by in West Bengal, Bangladesh, almost as much as Rabindrasangeet of Rabindranath Tagore.
  • Nazrul is often called the “Vidrohi Kavi (Rebel Poet)” because he wrote more than 4,000 songs, and many of them were about protesting and fighting against unfair rules and powerful rulers.
  • These songs inspired the freedom fighters of Bengal who were fighting against the British colonial rule.
  • He is celebrated as the national poet of Bangladesh and is also revered in West Bengal, India.

Understanding “Karar Oi Louho Kopat”

  • Nazrul was an ardent supporter of India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule. He used his poetry and writings to inspire and mobilize people against British oppression.
  • Published in 1922 in “Banglar Katha” and later included in Nazrul’s “Bhangar Gaan,” the song was penned as a call to break down the iron gates of prison, symbolizing resistance against British oppression.
  • He wrote the song of revolution after the British threw Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das (1870-1925) in prison in 1922.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

An under-discussed facet of colonial history

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kangani System

Mains level: Decolonization

Central idea

The article explores the historical exploitation of indentured labor, particularly focusing on the plight of Plantation Tamils in Sri Lanka. Shashi Tharoor emphasizes the challenges, discrimination, and struggles faced by this community, calling for a post-colonial, inclusive identity and highlighting the importance of decolonization in shaping a more equitable future for nations with colonial histories.

What is indentured labour?

  • Definition: Indentured labor is a historical practice where individuals, often from impoverished backgrounds, enter a contract (indenture) with an employer.
  • Terms: In exchange for their service, laborers receive passage, accommodation, and sometimes wages, binding them to work for a specified number of years (typically 4 to 7).
  • Purpose: Common during the 17th to 20th centuries, indentured labor served as a substitute for slavery, especially in regions where slavery had been abolished.

Key Highlights:

  • Bicentenary Commemoration: The article discusses the recent commemoration of the bicentenary of Tamil indentured laborers’ arrival in Sri Lanka, emphasizing the historical significance of this event.
  • Impact of British Empire: Shashi Tharoor highlights the detrimental impact of the British Empire’s policies, including the exploitation of colonies, draining of resources, and the introduction of indentured labor as a form of bonded servitude.
  • Plight of Plantation Tamils: The article sheds light on the challenges faced by Plantation Tamils in Sri Lanka, detailing their exploitation, discrimination, and struggles for basic rights, identity, and integration.
  • Identity and Integration: Despite adversities, Plantation Tamils forged an identity rooted in Tamil traditions and values. The article acknowledges their journey towards integration and efforts to reclaim their heritage as equal citizens of Sri Lanka.

Challenges faced by these labors :

  • Indentured Labor Exploitation: The article highlights the exploitative nature of indentured labor, depicting the harsh conditions, misinformation, and economic hardships faced by laborers brought to distant lands.
  • Discrimination and Statelessness: Plantation Tamils faced discrimination by colonial practices, being labeled “foreigners” and rendered stateless. Discriminatory laws, like the Citizenship Act of 1948, further marginalized them.
  • Kangani System: The detrimental role of the sub-contractor system, known as kanganies, is discussed, emphasizing the abuse of power and exploitation faced by Indian laborers even after the indenture period.
Highly important term from prelims perspective

 

Kangani System:

 

Role: Kangani was like a boss who hired and supervised workers.

Function: Managed laborers on plantations, overseeing their work.

Abuse of Power: Kangani could be unfair, exploiting workers and causing them to be in debt.

After Work Ended: Unlike other workers, Plantation Tamils had no escape from the kangani system even after their work time was over.

Restrictions: Workers couldn’t ask to go home or buy land because of unclear contracts with the kangani.

Key Phrases:

  • Licensed Looting: Describes the initial phase of the British imperial project as a form of licensed looting in service of crude capitalism.
  • Indentured Labour: Refers to the replacement of slavery with bonded servitude, termed “indentured labor,” as a consequence of the abolition of slavery.
  • New Kind of Slavery: Hugh Tinker’s characterization of indentured labor, highlighting its exploitative and degrading nature.
  • Decolonization: Stresses the importance of post-colonial countries breaking free from oppressive practices and attitudes inherited from their imperial rulers.

Analysis: Tharoor critically analyzes the historical exploitation by the British Empire, juxtaposing the wave of liberal humanism in Europe with the continued oppression in the colonies. He underscores the challenges faced by Plantation Tamils, portraying their struggle for identity and integration as a valorous subaltern endeavor.

Key Data/Facts:

  • Bicentenary: Marks the 200th anniversary of Tamil indentured laborers’ arrival in Sri Lanka in November 1823.
  • Citizenship Act of 1948: The legislation rendered Plantation Tamils stateless, hindering their assimilation into Sri Lankan society.
  • Economic Shift to Tea: The shift from coffee to tea plantations in Sri Lanka resulted in a massive transfer of Indian Tamils due to increased demand for labor.

Way Forward:

  • Decolonization: Tharoor emphasizes the need for post-colonial countries like Sri Lanka to actively decolonize themselves from oppressive practices inherited from imperial rulers.
  • Inclusive Identity: The article suggests that forging an inclusive, post-colonial identity for all people in Sri Lanka should be central to the nation-building process.
  • Land Ownership: The government’s potential plan to divide plantations, making workers owners of the land they work on, is seen as a positive step, representing a potential way forward.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Mubarak Manzil Palace of Malerkotla Awaits Restoration

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mubarak Manzil Palace

Mains level: NA

 Mubarak-Manzil-Palace

Central Idea

  • Hidden amidst the ruins of Punjab’s Malerkotla town lies the 19th-century Mubarak Manzil Palace, a poignant symbol of the state’s indifference towards its rich heritage.
  • Beyond its architectural significance, this palace holds a deep cultural and emotional connection for both Sikhs and Muslims alike.
  • However, despite its historical value, the restoration of this magnificent structure has languished in bureaucratic inertia.

About Mubarak Manzil Palace

  • Historical Significance: The Mubarak Manzil Palace dates back to the 19th century and stands as a testament to the region’s historical heritage.
  • Cultural Significance: Beyond architecture, the palace holds immense cultural and emotional importance for Sikhs and Muslims, serving as a shared legacy.
  • Unfulfilled Hope: Begum Munawwar-ul-Nisa, the last surviving member of Malerkotla’s royal family, passed away recently, with her desire to witness the palace’s restoration remaining unfulfilled.

Delayed Restoration Efforts

  • Congress Government’s Approval: In 2021, the previous Congress government granted approval for the acquisition and preservation of the palace, kindling hopes for its revival.
  • Family Disputes and Financial Constraints: The palace had fallen into disrepair due to family disputes and financial limitations. Begum Nisa, after resolving the disputes, appealed to the State government to take over and restore the palace.
  • Unfulfilled Promises: Although Begum Nisa and her family entrusted 29 rooms of the palace to the government’s care, the restoration work has yet to commence. Despite expert assessments in 2022, progress has been stalled, leaving the heritage in disrepair.

Cultural Significance

  • Guru Gobind Singh’s Blessing: Malerkotla holds a significant place in Sikh history as it was Nawab Sher Mohammed Khan who protested against the execution of Guru Gobind Singh’s younger sons, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh, in 1705. Guru Gobind Singh blessed the town to live in peace.
  • Sikh Reverence: Sikhs deeply respect Malerkotla’s royal family for their historical role. The restoration of the palace is considered a fitting tribute to their legacy.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

‘Enemy Property’ Butler Palace to turn into a tourist haven

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Enemy Property, Butler Palace

Mains level: Not Much

enemy property

Central Idea

  • Lucknow’s iconic Butler Palace, an Enemy Property on the banks of the Gomti River, is set to undergo a remarkable transformation after decades of abandonment and obscurity.

About Butler Palace

  • Official Residence: Butler Palace was originally commissioned in 1915 as the official residence of the Avadh Commissioner, Harcourt Butler.
  • Ownership by the Raja: It later came under the ownership of the rajas of Mahmudabad, a family with roots tracing back to the 13th century and a history of allegiance to the Mughals.
  • Partition and Dispute: After India’s partition, Raja Mohammed Amir Ahmad Khan migrated to Pakistan, while his son, Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan, stayed in India. Legal disputes over properties, including Butler Palace, ensued.

Genesis of Enemy Property

  • Post-War Migration: The origins of enemy property can be traced back to the aftermath of the India-Pakistan wars in 1965 and 1971, which led to the migration of people from India to Pakistan.
  • Defence of India Rules: Framed under The Defence of India Act, 1962, these rules empowered the Indian government to assume control of properties and companies owned by individuals opting for Pakistani nationality.
  • Custodian of Enemy Property: The central government vested these “enemy properties” in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India (CEPI).
  • Similar Instances: A parallel situation emerged concerning property left behind by individuals who relocated to China after the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
  • Tashkent Declaration: A pivotal development occurred with the Tashkent Declaration in 1966, where India and Pakistan agreed to discuss the return of properties and assets seized by either side during the conflicts.
  • Pakistan’s Disposition: Notably, the Government of Pakistan disposed of all such properties within its territory in 1971.

Legal Framework for Handling Enemy Property

  • Enemy Property Act, 1968: Enacted in 1968, this legislation established the continuous vesting of enemy property in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India (CEPI) under the Home Ministry.
  • Scope of Properties: The CEPI, acting on behalf of the central government, oversees a range of enemy properties spread across multiple states. This includes both immovable and movable assets, such as shares and gold.
  • Amendment in 2017: Parliament passed The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, which introduced amendments to The Enemy Property Act, 1968, and The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.

Scale and Geographic Distribution

  • Vast Inventory: India currently hosts a significant inventory of 12,611 enemy properties, collectively estimated to be worth over ₹1 lakh crore.
  • Revenue Generation: The government has generated revenue exceeding ₹3,400 crore by disposing of enemy properties, predominantly involving movable assets like shares and gold.
  • Immovable Properties: Interestingly, no immovable enemy properties have been sold to date.
  • Origin Breakdown: Out of the 12,611 properties under CEPI’s purview, 12,485 were associated with Pakistani nationals, while 126 were linked to Chinese citizens.
  • Regional Distribution: Uttar Pradesh leads with the highest number of enemy properties (6,255), followed by states like West Bengal, Delhi, Goa, Maharashtra, and others. Notably, several states across India have a share of enemy properties, underscoring the broad geographical scope.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Baba Farid and India’s Connection to Jerusalem

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Baba Farid

Mains level: NA

baba farid

Central Idea

  • Amidst the timeless and contentious history of Jerusalem, India’s enduring presence is manifested through the Indian Hospice—a two-story stone building nestled within the city’s ancient walls.
  • The hospice, established in the 12th century, stands as a testament to the 800-year-old connection between India and Jerusalem.

Baba Farid’s Hospice

  • Baba Farid’s Spiritual Sojourn: Legend has it that Baba Farid, a revered Sufi saint from Punjab, embarked on a 40-day meditation at this site. His spiritual journey left an indelible mark, inspiring Indian Muslims travelling to Mecca to visit Jerusalem for prayer.
  • Transformation into a Shrine: Over time, the place evolved into a sacred shrine and a hospice, welcoming Indian travellers and pilgrims.

Who was Baba Farid?

  • Early life: Baba Farid, born in 1173 CE near Shakarganj, near Multan (Pakistan), belonged to a family that had migrated from Kabul to Punjab.
  • Sufi Connection: He followed the Chishti Order and was among the first Sufi saints to compose verses in Punjabi.
  • Influence on Sikhism: Many of his verses are enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of Sikhs.

Evolution of the Indian Hospice

  • Baba Farid’s Lodging: Baba Farid found a humble abode within one of Jerusalem’s gates, known as Bab-az-Zahra among Muslims and Herod’s Gate among Christians. This lodging was situated within a khanqah—a structure for Sufi orders, functioning as both seminaries and hospices.
  • A Continuously Cherished Connection: Despite changing rulers, including Christian crusaders, Mamluks, and Ottomans, the lodge maintained its association with India.

Hospice through the Ages

  • Prominence during Ottoman Rule: The lodge remained prominent during Ottoman rule, predominantly under the leadership of sheikhs from South Asia.
  • Shift during Ottoman Dissolution: As the Ottoman Empire began to dissolve in 1919, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin Al-Husayni, took charge, initiating extensive renovations. He sought support from Muslim patrons worldwide, including Indian princely states.
  • Renovation by Khwaja Nazir Hasan Ansari: In 1921, Khwaja Nazir Hasan Ansari from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, undertook the renovation of the lodge. It became a sanctuary for travellers and pilgrims from British India, even offering refuge to soldiers during World War II in 1939.

Indian Hospice’s Association with Independent India

  • Post-Independence Recognition: After India gained independence, Nazir Ansari sought official recognition from the Indian embassy in Egypt, solidifying the lodge’s Indian identity.
  • Resilience through Challenges: The hospice faced challenges, including rocket strikes in 1952 and the Six-Day War in 1967.
  • Diverse Functions: Over time, the Indian Hospice expanded to host the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and the Jerusalem Health Centre.

Diplomatic and Cultural Significance

  • Meeting Place for Dignitaries: In 2000, the hospice hosted a meeting between former Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini.
  • Integral Diplomatic Destination: Every Indian diplomat or visiting dignitary includes a visit to the hospice.
  • Sheikh Mohammad Munir Ansari: Sheikh Mohammad Munir Ansari, born in Jerusalem in 1928, administers the hospice and received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (Overseas Indian Award) from the Government of India in 2011.

Glimpse of India in Jerusalem

  • Ownership and Accessibility: The property is under the ownership of Waqf Board of India, accessible solely to individuals of Indian citizenship or heritage.
  • Facilities: The hospice offers guest rooms, a mosque, a library, a dining hall, and a kitchen, encouraging guests to manage their cooking and laundry.
  • Ansari Family’s Dedication: The Ansari family diligently maintains the hospice, extending hospitality and preserving a piece of India in the heart of Jerusalem.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s 125th birth anniversary

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Modern Indian, Personalities, contributions and related facts

Mains level: Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and his contributions

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

What’s the news?

  • Commemorating the 125th birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, a prominent figure in India’s history

Central idea

  • Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, a name synonymous with educational reforms among Muslims, stands out for his groundbreaking efforts. Yet, his views on women’s education remain controversial and the topic demands a revisit, especially in the context of the recent passing of the Women’s Reservation Bill.

The Complex Legacy of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

  • Sir Syed’s Contradictory Views:
  • While Sir Syed displayed a clear inclination towards liberal values and rationality, exemplified by his establishment of the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh in 1875, his views on women’s education were more conservative.
  • He advocated for a form of education that revolved around home tutoring for women, emphasizing their role in family life. He believed that formal education could hinder their primary purpose – marriage.
  • Support for Gender Segregation:
  • It’s noteworthy that Sir Syed supported gender segregation in education, opposing the British government’s initiatives to open co-educational schools and girls’ exclusive institutions.
  • He even considered coeducation a major cause of public unrest during colonial rule, reflecting the prevalent societal disapproval of women’s education.

Sir Syed’s Advocacy for Women’s Empowerment

  • Campaigning Against Regressive Practices:
  • Sir Syed actively campaigned against various regressive practices that affected women’s lives in India.
  • He used platforms like the Aligarh Institute Gazette to address issues such as female infanticide, polygamy, child marriage, sati (the practice of widow self-immolation), the segregation of widows, and poverty-induced marriages of young girls to older men.
  • Support for Mary Carpenter’s Initiatives:
  • Sir Syed welcomed and appreciated the efforts of Mary Carpenter, a British philanthropist dedicated to female education.
  • Carpenter’s commitment to providing modern education to Indian women impressed him.
  • This support showcased Sir Syed’s recognition of the importance of education in empowering women and allowing them to participate more fully in public life.

Reevaluation Through European Lens

  • Sir Syed’s visit to England in 1869-70 had a transformative effect on his views about women’s education.
  • His interactions with European women and observations about their roles in society led him to partially revise his stance.
  • He began to appreciate gender equality and the essential role of women in human progress.
  • He admired the freedom enjoyed by women in Europe and believed that the rejection of women’s education by Muslims played a part in the community’s decline

Conclusion

  • While Sir Syed Ahmed Khan never fully relinquished his initial preference for home-based education for women, his exposure to Western ideals brought about a marked shift in his perspective. As we reflect on his contributions, it’s essential to view him in the nuanced light of a reformer caught between tradition and modernity.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Battle of Colachel: How an accidental shot ended Dutch plans for India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Battle of Colachel

Mains level: Not Much


Battle of Colachel

Central Idea

  • The Battle of Colachel in 1741, where King Marthanda Varma led the Travancore army against the Dutch East India Company, marked a significant turning point in India’s history.
  • It was the first instance of an Asian kingdom defeating a European power, effectively halting Dutch colonial ambitions in India.
  • This battle also had profound implications for the formation of the unified Travancore state.

Travancore’s Complex Landscape Before 1741

  • Fragmented Territories: Travancore, formerly known as Thiruvithamcode, was not a unified state but a network of south Malabar temple states and settlements, characterized by fragmented territories and chieftaincies.
  • Marthanda Varma’s Leadership: Born in 1705, Marthanda Varma ascended to power and set his sights on unifying the kingdom by annexing neighboring regions and eliminating internal opposition.
  • Territorial Expansion: His ambition to expand threatened neighboring rulers in Kayamukulam, Kollam, Attingal, and others, leading them to seek Dutch intervention against Varma.
  • English Connection: Varma’s military relations with the English, who supplied weaponry, further strained Dutch-Travancore relations.

Factors Leading to the Battle

  • Dutch Resistance: The Dutch, perturbed by Varma’s expansion and territorial disputes, prepared their forces in Colachel to counter Travancore.
  • Internal Conflicts: Some Dutch officials, including Carl August Duijvenschot, defected to Travancore due to internal conflicts within the Dutch ranks.
  • Neighboring Rulers’ Instigation: Cochin and Kayamukulam rulers instigated the Dutch against Varma to safeguard their borders.

Battle of Colachel: Unfolds

  • Dutch Aggression: In February 1741, the Dutch initiated attacks on several villages and the Travancore army, committing atrocities and plundering the region.
  • Varma’s Response: Marthanda Varma deployed his military commander, Rama Iyer Dalawah, to confront the Dutch and protect his kingdom.
  • International Support: The French supported Varma against the Dutch, and even the English participated in the siege of Colachel alongside Varma’s forces.

Siege and Surrender

  • Long Siege: The continuous attacks and siege depleted Dutch supplies and manpower, leading to a dire situation.
  • Explosion and Surrender: On August 5, 1741, a gunpowder explosion occurred in Colachel, devastating the Dutch. Two days later, they surrendered.
  • Outcome: Only 24 Dutchmen survived, and Travancore captured 389 muskets, cannons, and swords.
  • Mukkuvar Community: The Mukkuvar fishermen community, by refusing to assist the Dutch with fortifications and supplies, played a crucial role in Travancore’s victory.

Aftermath and Legacy

  • Resilience to Colonial Rule: The victory at Colachel bolstered Varma’s expansion plans and resistance to colonial rule.
  • Dutch Retreat: The Dutch never fully recovered from their defeat and signed the Treaty of Mavelikkara in 1753, ending their dominance on the Kerala coast.
  • De Lannoy’s Contribution: Eustachius De Lannoy, captured during the battle, played a vital role in training Travancore’s army and fortifying the region. He was conferred the title ‘Valia Kappithan’ (senior admiral) and served Travancore for 36 years.

Back2Basics: Colonization of India

Colonial Power Arrival Year Departure Year
Portuguese Arrived in 1498 through Vasco da Gama’s voyage. Departed in 1961 (Goa), with gradual integration of smaller settlements into India over subsequent years.
Dutch Established presence in 1602. Departed in 1802, with the formal cession of their Indian territories to the British through the Treaty of Amiens.
British British East India Company granted a charter in 1600.

The first factory was established in Surat in 1619.

Departed in 1947 when India gained independence.

It also led to Partition of India and creation of Pakistan.

French Established the first trading post in 1668. Departed in 1954 with the formal handover of Pondicherry and other French settlements to India.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Lesser known facts about Lal Bahadur Shastri

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lal Bahadur Shastri

Mains level: Not Much

Lal Bahadur Shastri

Central Idea

  • October 2 is a day of double celebration as India remembers the birth anniversaries of two iconic leaders: Mahatma Gandhi, the ‘Father of the Nation,’ and Lal Bahadur Shastri, former Prime Minister.
  • Both leaders made significant contributions to India’s freedom struggle and early years of nation-building.

Lal Bahadur Shastri: A Man of Humble Origins

[A] Rising from Modest Beginnings

  • Early Struggles: Born in 1904 in Mughalsarai, Uttar Pradesh, Shastri faced adversity early in life, with his father passing away shortly after his birth.
  • Simplicity: Raised in a lower-middle-class environment, he possessed only two kurtas and dhotis, symbolizing his humble beginnings.
  • A Change of Name: In a demonstration of his early social consciousness, Shastri dropped his birthname “Varma.” In 1925, he acquired the title of ‘Shastri’ (one who knows the Shastras) from the Kashi Vidyapeeth in Benaras, adding it to his name.

[B] Resignation and Accountability

  • A Serious Accident: While serving as the Union Minister for Railways and Transport in 1956, a tragic railway accident in Telangana resulted in the loss of 112 lives.
  • Owning Responsibility: Deeply affected by the tragedy, Shastri took moral responsibility and tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Nehru. Although Nehru initially did not accept it, Shastri resigned again after another railway accident in Tamil Nadu in November 1956, further solidifying his moral stature.

[C] Championing the Slogan ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’

  • A Return to Cabinet: Shastri made a comeback to the Union Cabinet, serving in roles such as Home Minister and Commerce and Industry Minister.
  • Language Assurance: In response to concerns about Hindi domination, he assured the continued use of English as an official language alongside Hindi.
  • Economic Challenges: In 1965, faced with economic stagnation and growing food demand, Shastri called upon farmers to increase production, traders to maintain fair prices, and consumers to exercise restraint. He coined the famous slogan, ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan (Hail the soldier, hail the farmer!).’

[D] Leadership during the 1965 India-Pakistan War and Tashkent Agreement

  • Unforeseen Conflict: The 1965 war with Pakistan erupted as Pakistan launched attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, believing India to be vulnerable after the 1962 war with China.
  • Firm Response: Shastri approved an Indian counterattack, leading to hostilities on both sides.
  • Tashkent Declaration: Soviet Premier Aleksey Kosygin invited Shastri and Pakistan President General Ayub Khan to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where they signed the Tashkent Declaration on January 10, 1966, committing to long-term peace.
  • Sudden Passing: Tragically, Shastri passed away due to a heart attack the following day in Tashkent, leaving behind speculation about the circumstances. However, available evidence suggests it was a natural death, dispelling doubts of external factors.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Gandhi and Ambedkar Dynamic

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Poona Pact and other related facts

Mains level: Gandhi and Ambedkar dynamic: critical roles in shaping India's social landscape.

What’s the news?

  • Prominent figures Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s historic collaboration on the Poona Pact, addressing caste and social injustice, remains relevant in contemporary India’s ongoing debates.

Central idea

  • Gandhi is indispensable. You may love him or hate him, but you can’t ignore him. As world leaders gathered for the G-20 summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized the timeless importance of Gandhi’s ideals in shaping a harmonious global future. Gandhi’s persona transcended ideologies, making him a creed unto himself.

Gandhi’s Profound Persona

  • Gandhi’s persona transcended ideologies, becoming a creed in itself. To truly appreciate his legacy, we must approach it with an open mind, free from preconceived biases. His extensive literary contributions, spanning over a hundred volumes, offer insights into his complex worldview and philosophy.

Gandhi’s Humility and Self-Reflection

  • One admirable aspect of Gandhi was his recognition of his own fallibility.
  • He encouraged readers to choose the interpretation of his writings that resonated with them, demonstrating courage and humility.
  • His continual self-growth was evident, emphasizing his commitment to his principles.

The Gandhi-Ambedkar Dynamic

  • October holds significance for both Gandhi and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, known for their opposing views on social issues like varna and caste.
  • Despite their differences, they reached a historic agreement known as the Poona Pact, which played a pivotal role in shaping India’s social landscape.

The Poona Pact: An Agreement for Inclusivity

  • Historic Agreement: The Poona Pact was a significant development in Indian history. It marked an agreement reached between Gandhi and Ambedkar in Pune, India, during a period of intense discussions and debates about political representation for the depressed classes (Dalits), who were formerly known as untouchables.
  • Background: Before the Poona Pact, there was a demand for separate electorates for Dalits, a move advocated by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. This demand led to divisions and tensions within Indian society.
  • Gandhi’s Fast Unto Death: Mahatma Gandhi, opposed to the idea of separate electorates, embarked on a fast unto death in protest. This fast put immense pressure on the political leaders and created a crisis situation.
  • Outcome: The Poona Pact was the result of negotiations between Gandhi and Ambedkar. It led to the abandonment of the demand for separate electorates for Dalits. Instead, it introduced the concept of reserved seats (quotas) for the depressed classes within the general electorate.
  • Significance: The Poona Pact aimed to secure political representation for Dalits while maintaining the unity of the Hindu community. It was seen as a compromise that prevented further division within Indian society.
  • Legacy: The Poona Pact’s legacy is still felt in modern India. It introduced the system of reserved seats for Dalits in provincial legislatures and other political bodies. This system, known as scheduled castes, continues to ensure political representation for Dalits in India.

Unity Amidst Differences

  • A Shared Goal:
  • Though Gandhi and Ambedkar held divergent philosophical views on the foundation of caste, they both agreed on the need to eradicate untouchability and uplift the depressed classes.
  • Gandhi advocated for treating untouchables on par with caste Hindus, while Ambedkar sought to eliminate the varna system entirely.
  • Gandhi’s Support for the Varna System: Gandhi, inspired by Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s teachings, supported the Vedic varna system, where an individual’s qualities, actions, and nature determined their varna. He considered it a beneficent law, separate from untouchability.
  • Ambedkar’s Rejection of Varna Dharma: Ambedkar vehemently opposed the Varna system, viewing it as the root of the problem. He challenged the idea that caste and untouchability were distinct issues, arguing that they were inseparable.

Ongoing Debate

  • The debates surrounding caste, varna, and Sanatan Dharma (the traditional Hindu way of life) are still actively discussed in India.
  • Despite the Poona Pact and other social reforms, India grapples with issues related to caste discrimination and untouchability.
  • The ongoing debate reflects the complexity of India’s social fabric, with differing perspectives on how to address these issues.

Conclusion

  • Gandhi and Ambedkar, despite their differences, played critical roles in shaping India’s social landscape. Their historic collaboration in the Poona Pact demonstrated a shared commitment to inclusivity and justice. The debates they ignited still resonate in contemporary Indian society, underscoring the enduring relevance of their ideas and ideals.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Lesser-Known Facets of Bhagat Singh’s Life

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bhagat Singh

Mains level: Read the attached story

bhagat singh

Central Idea

  • Bhagat Singh, born on September 28, 1907, in the village of Banga (now in Faisalabad, Pakistan), is celebrated as a charismatic revolutionary who sacrificed his life for the cause of Indian independence at the young age of 23.

Five Lesser-Known Aspects of Bhagat Singh’s Life

[1] A Family of Progressive Freedom Fighters

  • Anti-Colonial Roots: Bhagat Singh’s father, Kishan, and uncle, Ajit, were actively involved in anti-British activities. Kishan faced imprisonment in 1910 for disseminating seditious literature, while Ajit was deported to Mandalay in 1907 for his inflammatory speeches against the Punjab Colonisation Bill. Both played significant roles in the freedom struggle, influencing Bhagat Singh’s upbringing in an anti-colonial environment.
  • Dissent within the Family: Despite the family’s strong anti-British stance, Bhagat Singh publicly criticized his father for submitting a mercy plea to the Viceroy when he and other revolutionaries faced the gallows, revealing his unwavering commitment to the revolutionary cause.

[2] A Scholar and Writer

  • Prolific Writer: Bhagat Singh contributed to Urdu and Punjabi newspapers in Amritsar during the 1920s and authored pamphlets and ‘seditious’ literature condemning British colonial rule.
  • Eclectic Reading: His jail notebooks revealed his interests extended beyond politics, encompassing literature from renowned poets and writers, including Rabindranath Tagore, William Wordsworth, Wajid Ali Shah, Mirza Ghalib, and Iqbal.

[3] An Atheist and Marxist with Anarchist Leanings

  • Religious Critique: Bhagat Singh was an avowed atheist who criticized religion in his essay ‘Why I am an Atheist’ (1930), rejecting the concept of one true religion. He viewed religious beliefs as divisive and demoralizing.
  • Inspirations: Bhagat Singh drew inspiration from Marxist thinkers such as Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, and Bakunin. In his final testament, ‘To Young Political Workers’ (1931), he advocated for “social reconstruction on new, i.e., Marxist, basis.” However, he did not fully align with orthodox Marxist views, particularly on authoritarianism.

[4] Support from Jinnah

  • Jinnah’s Defense: While Mahatma Gandhi refrained from intervening in Bhagat Singh’s trial, MA Jinnah ardently defended him. Jinnah vehemently opposed a proposed Bill that would have allowed trials in absentia, delivering a compelling speech in the Central Assembly in 1929.
  • Successful Opposition: Jinnah’s staunch stance led to the foiling of the attempt to pass the law, but Bhagat Singh’s trial continued under dubious circumstances, resulting in his death sentence in 1930.

[5] Jawaharlal Nehru’s Support

  • Nehru’s Critique: Jawaharlal Nehru criticized the British legal process and the injustice inflicted on Bhagat Singh. He admired Bhagat Singh’s courage and self-sacrifice.
  • Historic Visit: Nehru, along with other leaders like Subhash Chandra Bose, visited Bhagat Singh in prison. Despite their differences in methods, Nehru’s respect for Bhagat Singh remained unwavering.
  • Congress Resolution: After Bhagat Singh’s execution, Nehru moved an official resolution in a Congress session, condemning the execution and demanding commutation, even though the Congress officially rejected violence as a means of achieving independence.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

MS Swaminathan: Father of the Green Revolution

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Green Revolution

Mains level: Green Revolution and Contributions and the significant roles played by MS Swaminathan

Swaminathan

What’s the news?

  • Monkomb Sambasivan Swaminathan, the legendary agricultural scientist widely regarded as the Father of the Green Revolution, passed away at the age of 98 on September 28. His contributions to agriculture in the 1960s and ’70s transformed India’s farming landscape, ushering in an era of food security.

Central idea

  • The passing of MS Swaminathan marks the end of an era in Indian agriculture. His unwavering commitment to the welfare of farmers and his pioneering efforts in the Green Revolution have left an indomitable legacy. This op-ed is dedicated to the father of the Green Revolution.

Early life and education

  • Born on August 7, 1925, in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
  • Initially, I aimed for a career in the civil services and even cleared the civil services examination.
  • He switched to agriculture due to his passion, inspired by the Quit India Movement and the Bengal famine of 1942–43.
  • He enrolled in the Agriculture College in Coimbatore to pursue his interest in agriculture.

Diverse Roles in Agriculture

  • Swaminathan held various significant positions related to agriculture, both in India and abroad.
  • His roles included Independent Chairman of the Food and Agricultural Organization Council (1981–85), President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (1984–90), and President of the World Wide Fund for Nature (India) from 1989–96.
  • He also served as the Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), among other positions.

Swaminathan

The Green Revolution: A Turning Point

  • Swaminathan’s mission was to transform Indian agriculture.
  • Introduced high-yielding crop varieties, improved irrigation facilities, and promoted fertilizer use.
  • Wheat production in India surged from 6 million tonnes in 1947 to 17 million tonnes between 1964 and 1968.
  • The Green Revolution bolstered India’s food security and reduced dependence on imports.

Swaminathan’s Contributions to the Green Revolution

  • Swaminathan worked on enhancing crop varieties, particularly rice and wheat.
  • He pioneered the development of semi-dwarf wheat varieties to reduce lodging and boost yields.
  • Collaboration with Norman Borlaug resulted in the introduction of dwarfing genes into wheat varieties, leading to the “Wheat Revolution.”
  • Swaminathan recognized the challenges of the Green Revolution, including the displacement of local crop varieties, soil fertility conservation issues, and indiscriminate pesticide use.
  • He also noted the risks of overexploiting groundwater.

Advocacy for Farmers

  • As the head of the National Commission on Farmers from 2004 to 2006, Swaminathan advocated for the welfare of farmers.
  • He recommended that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for agricultural produce should be at least 50% more than the cost of production, ensuring fair compensation to farmers.

Awards and recognition

  • Swaminathan was awarded the first World Food Prize Laureate in 1987 for his contributions to India’s wheat and rice production.
  • He received the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan, two of India’s highest civilian honors.

Conclusion

  • As we remember the Father of the Green Revolution, we must also reflect on the challenges that persist in Indian agriculture and work towards a sustainable and equitable future. Swaminathan’s vision and dedication will continue to inspire generations of agricultural scientists and policymakers in their pursuit of a food-secure India.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

How Bal Gangadhar Tilak made the worship of Lord Ganesh a grand community festival

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lokmanya' Tilak and associated facts, role, contribution etc

Mains level: Lokmanya Tilak's vision, Nationalistic Ideals, role, contribution

Tilak

What’s the news?

  • The ten-day Ganesh festival, commencing on September 19, is celebrated nationwide with mass participation, a transformation attributed to Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s 19th-century efforts, now symbolizing India’s unity and resilience.

Central idea

  • The ten-day Ganesh festival is a spectacle of devotion and festivity celebrated with enthusiasm across India, particularly in the western regions. This grand public event, characterized by mass participation, owes its transformation from a one-day private affair to a colossal celebration to the visionary nationalist leader, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, fondly known as Lokmanya or the Leader of the People.

Tilak’s Nationalistic Ideals

  • Advocated Swaraj (self-rule) with unwavering commitment: Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a visionary leader who firmly believed in India’s right to self-rule. At a time when many nationalist leaders were seeking concessions from the British, Tilak boldly asserted that India should have full self-governance, known as Swaraj, as its birthright.
  • Fearlessly criticized British exploitation in India: Tilak was an outspoken critic of British colonial rule in India. He fearlessly highlighted the exploitation, economic hardships, and cultural subjugation faced by Indians under British rule.
  • Promoted modern civil and political rights: Tilak advocated for the modernization of India’s political and civil rights. He argued for greater political participation and civil liberties for Indians, emphasizing the need for Indians to have the same rights as citizens of other nations.
  • Gained popularity through fiery rhetoric and direct language: Tilak’s communication style was marked by fiery rhetoric and direct language. He used newspapers and public speeches to communicate his ideas to a wide audience.

Tilak’s Leadership and Vision

  • Emerged as a prominent mass leader in India’s anti-colonial movement: Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s leadership during the late 19th and early 20th centuries made him one of the most prominent figures in India’s anti-colonial struggle.
  • Iconic declaration: Tilak’s famous declaration, Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it, encapsulated his determination and became a rallying cry for the Indian independence movement.
  • Effectively mobilized people against British rule: Tilak’s leadership was instrumental in mobilizing people against British colonial rule. He organized protests, public meetings, and social and cultural events that galvanized support for the nationalist cause.
  • Utilized Hindu imagery and symbolism in political campaigns: Tilak recognized the power of symbolism in political mobilization. He used Hindu imagery and symbolism to appeal to the cultural and religious sentiments of the majority of Indians.

Tilak

The Transformation of the Ganesh Festival

  • Shifted the Ganesh festival from a one-day private event: Before Tilak’s intervention, the Ganesh festival was a one-day private affair largely observed by Brahmins and upper castes. However, in 1893, Tilak initiated a transformative change by expanding the festival into a ten-day community celebration.
  • Introduced community Ganpati worship in 1893: Tilak introduced the concept of community Ganpati worship during the Ganesh festival, allowing people from all social strata to participate in the festivities.
  • Incorporated patriotic songs and propagated nationalist ideas: Under Tilak’s guidance, the Ganesh festival became a platform for singing patriotic songs and propagating nationalist ideas.
  • Formation of Ganesh festival societies and increased youth participation: Tilak’s efforts led to the establishment of Ganesh festival societies across Maharashtra, encouraging youth participation and instilling a sense of pride, valor, and patriotism among the youth.

Shivaji Festival and Boycott Campaign

  • Initiated the Shivaji festival in 1896 to inspire nationalism: In addition to the Ganesh festival, Tilak introduced the Shivaji festival in 1896 to celebrate the legacy of the Maratha king Shivaji and inspire nationalist sentiments among young Maharashtrians.
  • Celebrated the legacy of Maratha King Shivaji: The Shivaji festival paid tribute to Shivaji’s role in resisting foreign rule and promoting Swaraj, instilling pride in Maharashtrians.
  • Organized a campaign in Maharashtra to boycott foreign cloth: In 1896, Tilak organized a campaign in Maharashtra to boycott foreign cloth in response to the imposition of an excise duty on cotton by the British colonial administration.
  • Efforts galvanized support for the nationalist cause: Both the Shivaji festival and the boycott campaign were instrumental in galvanizing support for the nationalist cause.

Controversies and Criticisms

  • Accused of introducing a communal aspect to the freedom struggle: Tilak faced criticism for allegedly introducing communal elements into the freedom struggle, particularly during the communal clashes of 1893.
  • Maintained a conservative stance on women’s emancipation and caste reforms: Tilak’s conservative positions on women’s rights and caste reforms were points of contention.
  • Criticize the British for favoring Muslims due to fears of a Hindu majority: During the communal clashes of 1893, Tilak accused the British of being partisan towards Muslims out of fear of a growing Hindu majority.
  • Left a complex legacy with an enduring impact on India’s nationalist movement: Despite the controversies and criticisms, Bal Gangadhar Tilak left a complex but indelible legacy in India’s struggle for independence, shaping the course of the nationalist movement.

Conclusion

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s vision and leadership and his efforts to unite and instill nationalist fervor through this festival continue to shape the way it is celebrated today. Ganesh Chaturthi stands as a symbol of India’s unity and resilience in the face of colonial rule, thanks to the foresight of Lokmanya’ Tilak.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Why Gandhi opposed Caste-based Separate Electorates?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Poona Pact

Mains level: Read the attached story

gandhi fast

Central Idea

  • Mahatma Gandhi used fasting as a potent tool to press for change during India’s struggle for independence.
  • He employed it both as a form of personal penance and as a means to pressure the British authorities to meet his demands.

The Gandhi-Ambedkar Debate

  • The 1932 Turning Point: In September 1932, within the walls of the Yerawada Central Jail in Pune, Gandhi initiated a hunger strike against the idea of separate electorates for the harijans (lower castes). This action brought him into a fierce debate with another prominent leader, B.R. Ambedkar.
  • The Debate’s Legacy: The “Gandhi-Ambedkar debate” revolved around their differing views on caste and ultimately influenced the reservation system that India has today.

Gandhi’s Changing Views on Caste

  • Early Beliefs: In his early years, Gandhi held orthodox views on caste, supporting prohibitions on inter-dining and inter-marriage. He considered caste a crucial part of Hinduism.
  • Evolution of Beliefs: As Gandhi became a central figure in India’s freedom movement, his views evolved. Partially influenced by the emerging Dalit movement, he advocated unity and opposed untouchability, referring to untouchables as “harijans” or children of God.
  • Important Quote: Gandhi wrote in 1936, “I do know that it [untouchability] is harmful both to spiritual and national good.”

Ambedkar’s Radical Views on Caste

  • Ambedkar’s Perspective: B.R. Ambedkar’s stance was more radical than Gandhi’s. He believed that mere reform wouldn’t undo centuries of discrimination. He argued that change would only come when the oppressed themselves rejected their condition, including the divine authority of the shastras (holy scriptures) that upheld caste.
  • Political Empowerment: Ambedkar emphasized that political power was essential for lower castes to address their grievances and proposed separate electorates as a form of affirmative action.
  • Separate Electorates Explained: Ambedkar’s proposal involved separate electorates for lower castes, allowing them to vote for candidates from their own community as well as in the general electorate. He believed this would empower lower castes.

Gandhi’s Opposition to Separate Electorates

  • Gandhi’s Perspective: Gandhi opposed separate electorates, arguing that they did too little for lower castes. He believed that lower castes should aspire to lead, not settle for a small share of seats.
  • Concerns: Gandhi feared that separate electorates would divide Hindu society further and play into the hands of British colonial rulers who exploited internal divisions.
  • Challenging Times: The rising tensions between Hindus and Muslims at the time also fueled Gandhi’s concerns. Separate electorates for lower castes alongside those for Muslims would weaken the unity of the Hindu community.

The Yerawada Fast and the Poona Pact

  • Gandhi’s Hunger Strike: In September 1932, Gandhi embarked on a hunger strike in Yerawada Jail against separate electorates for castes. He called it a “God-given opportunity” to sacrifice his life for the downtrodden.
  • Ambedkar’s Dilemma: Ambedkar faced a challenging decision. Giving in to Gandhi’s demands was difficult, as it conflicted with his own ideas. However, Gandhi’s immense popularity and the potential for violence against Dalits pressured him.
  • The Poona Pact: Eventually, under duress, Ambedkar signed the Poona Pact, securing reservations for lower castes while putting the idea of separate electorates to rest.

Legacy of the Fast

  • Mixed Perspectives: Gandhi’s fast is seen by some as preventing British “divide and rule” tactics. Others view it as coercion, as Ambedkar had little choice but to concede. Ambedkar questioned why Gandhi didn’t fast against untouchability itself.
  • Unresolved Tensions: The debate’s legacy endures. While the Poona Pact addressed immediate concerns, it left lingering issues of political representation and social transformation within India’s caste system.
  • Ambedkar’s View: Ambedkar later wrote, “The Joint Electorate is… a ‘Rotten Borough’ in which the Hindus get the right to nominate an untouchable to set nominally as a representative of the untouchables but really as a tool of the Hindus.”

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Santiniketan gets UNESCO’s World Heritage List tag

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Santiniketan

Mains level: Not Much

Santiniketan

Central Idea

  • Situated in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, the small town of Santiniketan has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • This is the place where Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore spent much of his life.

About Santiniketan

  • Santiniketan, situated in Birbhum District, West Bengal, India, is an iconic cultural and heritage destination with a rich historical legacy.
  • Its prominence is attributed to its association with Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

Significance of Santiniketan

  • Rabindranath Tagore’s Home: Santiniketan served as the residence of Rabindranath Tagore, where he not only lived but also composed numerous literary works, encompassing songs, poems, and novels.
  • Artistic Abode: The Santiniketan campus is adorned with magnificent sculptures, frescoes, murals, and paintings created by eminent artists like Rabindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar, Binodbehari Mukhopadhyay, and others.
  • Cultural Festivals: The broader Birbhum District, where Santiniketan is nestled, is renowned for its vibrant fairs and festivals. Notable celebrations include Poush Mela (December), Joydev Mela (January), Basanta Utsav (Holi) in March and the renowned mystic Baul Singers.
  • Unique Events: Santiniketan hosts special cultural festivities during Bengali New Year and Rabindra Janmotsav (Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary) in the Bengali month of Boisakh, marked with great enthusiasm.
  • Distinctive Festivals: The region observes distinctive festivals such as Briksharopan (festival of Planting Saplings) and Halakarshan (festival of Plowing the Fields) on the 22nd and 23rd days of Sravana (August), respectively. Additionally, Varshamangal, the festival of rains, is celebrated in August/September.
  • Poush Mela: Santiniketan hosts the annual Poush Mela, commencing on the 7th day of the Poush month. While officially spanning three days, vendors may extend their stay throughout the month. The festival is renowned for live performances of Bengali folk music, particularly by bauls (traditional wandering minstrels), and showcases tribal dances like Santali.

West Bengal’s Presence on the World Heritage List

  • Santiniketan is the second cultural symbol from West Bengal to join the prestigious UNESCO list.
  • In 2021, UNESCO added ‘Durga Puja in Kolkata’ to its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, highlighting West Bengal’s rich cultural heritage.

Back2Basics: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Description
UNESCO World Heritage Sites Landmarks or areas selected by UNESCO for their cultural, historical, scientific, or other significant value, legally protected by international treaties.
Importance World Heritage Sites represent collective and preservative interests of humanity, signifying remarkable accomplishments and intellectual history.
Selection Criteria Sites must be already-classified landmarks, unique and significant culturally or physically, such as ancient ruins, historical structures, cities, monuments, etc.
Conservation World Heritage Sites require practical conservation to protect them from risks like trespassing, uncontrolled access, or administrative negligence.
World Heritage Committee Selects and monitors World Heritage Sites, manages the World Heritage Fund, and provides financial assistance. Composed of 21 states parties elected for a four-year term.
Membership India is not a member of the World Heritage Committee.

Note: “States parties” refer to the countries that have ratified the World Heritage Convention and participate in the decision-making process.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

M Visvesvaraya: India’s pioneering Civil Engineer

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: M Visvesvaraya

Mains level: NA

Visvesvaraya

Central Idea

  • September 15 marks the birthday of Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya (1861-1962), celebrated for his pivotal role as a civil engineer and administrator during colonial India.

About M. Visvesvaraya

  • Early life: Born on September 15, 1861, in the village of Muddenahalli, Karnataka, Visvesvaraya commenced his educational journey in his hometown.
  • Academic Pursuits: He pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Madras and later embarked on a diploma course in civil engineering at the College of Science in Pune.

Career Achievements

  • Engineering Pioneer: After completing his engineering studies at Poona College of Science, Visvesvaraya commenced his career as an Assistant Engineer in the Public Works Department (PWD) of the Government of Bombay at the age of 22.
  • Notable Projects: Among his initial projects was the construction of a pipe syphon across one of Panjra river’s channels.
  • Dewan of Mysore: In 1909, he assumed the role of Chief Engineer in the Mysore service, eventually becoming the 19th Dewan of Mysore.
  • Voluntary Retirement: In 1918, Visvesvaraya took voluntary retirement due to his disagreement with the proposal to allocate state jobs based on caste.
  • Committees and Contributions: Following retirement, he chaired or participated in various committees, including the Bombay Technical and Industrial Education Committee, Bombay University Committee for Promoting Chemical Industries, and the Cauvery Canal Committee.

Significant Works

  • Block System of Irrigation: In 1899, he introduced the block system of irrigation in the Deccan canals, enhancing the equitable distribution of irrigation benefits among numerous villages.
  • Water Quality Improvement: Visvesvaraya tackled the issue of “muddy and discolored” water in Sukkur, a city on the banks of the Indus River.
  • Invention of Automatic Gates: He invented automatic gates for regulating water flow in reservoirs, securing a patent for this innovation.
  • Implementation at Krishnaraja Sagar Dam: The Krishnaraja Sagar Dam in Karnataka became the first to adopt these gates in the 1920s.

Global Perspective

  • International Learning: Visvesvaraya travelled abroad to study various aspects of other countries’ systems. During a visit to Italy, he examined soil erosion problems and irrigation and drainage works.
  • Advocating for Indian Contributions: He challenged the perception that only British officers were capable of overseeing advanced engineering works, emphasizing that Indian expertise was valuable when supported by qualifications and dedication.

Vision for Progress

  • Inspirational Speech: In a speech delivered on March 16, 1912, at Central College Bangalore, Visvesvaraya emphasized the need for India to adopt modern practices, scientific precision, inventiveness, discipline, and economic fundamentals for progress.
  • Promoting Self-Examination: He encouraged a secular self-examination, comparing local conditions in India with global counterparts.
  • Authorship: Visvesvaraya authored two influential books, “Reconstructing India” (1920) and “Planned Economy of India” (1934).

Impact on Education

  • Education as a Catalyst: Visvesvaraya recognized the critical role of education in shaping an economy during his visit to Japan in 1898.
  • Founding the University of Mysore: As the Dewan of Mysore in 1916, he played a pivotal role in establishing the University of Mysore, emphasizing that educational institutions should mirror real-life conditions.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Operation Polo: Integrating Hyderabad – 75 Years On

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Operation Polo

Mains level: Not Much

operation polo

Central Idea

  • September 13, 2023, marks the 75th anniversary of Operation Polo, a significant military action undertaken by the Indian Army in 1948 to integrate the princely state of Hyderabad.
  • This operation, also known as the “Police Action,” led to the Nizam of Hyderabad’s forces surrendering to the Indian Army by September 18, 1948.
  • Understanding the background and events surrounding Operation Polo is essential to appreciate its historical significance.

Context of Operation Polo

(1) The Nizam’s Stand:

  • The Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Shah, was reluctant to join India or Pakistan after India’s Independence in 1947.
  • He exploited the diversion of Indian resources towards the Kashmir conflict, signing a standstill agreement with India in November 1947, maintaining the status quo in Hyderabad.

(2) Growing Tensions:

  • Hyderabad, a populous and prosperous state in the Deccan, was predominantly Hindu but administered by Muslim rulers.
  • The state had no common border with Pakistan, yet the Nizam sought amicable relations with Pakistan.
  • The Nizam’s forces, especially the Razakars, escalated tensions with their actions, including cross-border raids and overtures to Pakistan.

The Military Campaign: Operation Polo

(1) Hyderabad’s Forces and Situation:

  • Hyderabad’s military consisted of approximately 25,000 troops, with limited training and readiness.
  • The Razakars, though numerous, posed a minor military challenge.

(2) Indian Army’s Leadership:

  • Major General Jayanto Nath Chaudhuri, the General Officer Commanding of 1 Armoured Division, led the Indian forces.

(3) Multi-Directional Offensive:

  • The primary assault came from the west, led by 1 Armoured Division, supported by forces from the north, south, and east.
  • Key elements included the Smash Force, Kill Force, and Vir Force in the western thrust.
  • Additional thrusts were launched from Aurangabad, Jabalpur, and the eastern front.
  • The southern thrust originated from Vijayawada.

Conclusion: Surrender and Significance

(1) Ceasefire and Surrender:

  • The Nizam announced a ceasefire on September 17, 1948.
  • On September 18, Major General Chaudhuri entered Hyderabad, and Major General El Edroos surrendered to him.
  • Major General Chaudhuri was subsequently appointed as the Military Governor of Hyderabad.

(2) Honoring a Hero:

  • Havildar Bachhitar Singh of 2 Sikh was posthumously awarded the first Ashoka Chakra of Independent India for his role in Operation Polo.
  • He sacrificed his life on September 13, 1948, while advancing towards Naldurg, a part of Hyderabad state.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Ancient India-Europe Maritime Trade Route

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ancient India-Europe Maritime Trade Route, Port of Muziris

Mains level: Not Much

europe trade

Central Idea

India- Europe: Glimpse into Historical Trade Route

  • Early Discoveries: The trade between Rome and India during antiquity was established by early excavations. Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s work at Arikamedu in the 1930s and 40s confirmed the existence of Indo-Roman trade in the 1st century CE.
  • Recent excavations: Ongoing archaeological excavations, such as those at Muziris in Kerala and Berenike in Egypt, continue to yield new evidence.
  • Revised Understanding: However, early interpretations often overlooked the agency of Indian merchants and ship owners in this trade. Recent discoveries have expanded and corrected our understanding of this ancient trade network.
  • Staggering Scale: Recent estimates, supported by the Muziris Papyrus, reveal the immense scale of the Red Sea trade. Custom taxes on goods from India, Persia, and Ethiopia possibly contributed up to one-third of the Roman exchequer’s income.

Details unveiled by Muziris Excavations

  • Custom Taxes: The Muziris Papyrus detailed a cargo’s value, highlighting its enormous worth, with one cargo alone being equivalent to the purchase of premium farmland in Egypt or a prestigious estate in central Italy.
  • Roman Revenue: The import tax collected on this cargo alone exceeded two million sesterces. Extrapolating from these figures, Indian imports into Egypt were likely worth over a billion sesterces annually, with tax authorities generating 270 million sesterces.
  • Comparative Significance: These revenues surpassed those of entire subject countries, emphasizing the pivotal role of this trade route in sustaining the Roman Empire’s vast conquests and legions.
europe trade ancient muziris
Muziris Papyrus

Trade details

  • Peak Period: During the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, a maritime highway connected the Roman Empire and India through the Red Sea. This route witnessed hundreds of ships travelling in both directions annually.
  • Traded Goods: The Romans had a great demand for Indian luxuries, including perfumes, ivory, pearls, gemstones, and exotic animals like elephants and tigers. Pepper, India’s major export, was particularly sought after, finding its way into Roman cuisine.
  • Trade from Rome: The flow of goods from Rome to India was limited, with gold being a prominent export. Roman wine was one notable exception, appreciated by Indians.

Pre-Common Era Trade

  • Early Indian Diaspora: Evidence suggests the existence of an Indian diaspora in the Middle East during the time of the Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3300-1300 BCE). This early trade was coastal and involved smaller quantities of goods.
  • Roman Period Expansion: The trade expanded significantly during Roman times, facilitated by large cargo ships directly connecting the subcontinent and the Roman Empire. Romans played a key role in industrializing this trade.
  • Post-Conquest Peak: The conquest of Egypt by the Romans in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE opened up the route to India, leading to a substantial increase in trade.

Organization and Duration of Journeys

  • Highly Organized Trade: Contracts were established between Indian merchants in Kerala and shippers in Alexandria. Goods were transported in containers, similar to modern practices, with references to insurance.
  • Understanding Monsoons: Indians recognized the monsoon winds’ seasonal patterns, enabling them to navigate the route efficiently. The journey to Egypt took approximately six to eight weeks, depending on favorable wind conditions.
  • Extended Stays: Indian diaspora rented houses in Egyptian ports while waiting for wind patterns to shift, allowing for the integration of Indian culture into these regions.

Roles of Indians in the Trade

  • Indian Seafaring Culture: Evidence suggests that Indian dynasties were interested in seafaring, as depicted in Ajanta paintings and early Indian coin designs featuring ships.
  • Indian Sailors: Graffiti left by Indian sailors, primarily Gujaratis from Barigaza (modern-day Bharuch), has been discovered in the Hoq caves on the island of Socotra, emphasizing their active participation in the trade network.

Comparing with the Silk Road

  • Indian Centrality: The ancient economic and cultural hub of Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and its ports played a central role in maritime East-West exchange. The concept of the “Silk Road” is relatively recent and inaccurately portrays the ancient trade routes.
  • Historical Invisibility: The Silk Road concept was coined in the late 19th century and did not exist in ancient or medieval times. It gained popularity in the 20th century, fostering romanticized ideas about East-West connectivity.
  • Recent Politicization: Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative has politicized the Silk Road, making it a central component of Chinese foreign policy.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

From Meluha to India: The Journey of Names

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Etymology of India

Mains level: Read the attached story

india bharat meluha

Central Idea

  • India, with its rich heritage, has borne various names throughout its history, each encapsulating a distinct facet of its identity.
  • The process of naming this diverse land has sparked debates, controversies, and reflections on its collective consciousness.

Historical Evolution of Names

  1. Meluha (Third Millennium BCE):
  • The ancient Mesopotamian texts referenced ‘Meluha’ to denote the Indus Valley Civilization, highlighting India’s antiquity and interactions with ancient civilizations.
  • ‘Meluha’ is believed to have been used to describe the Indus Valley Civilization in texts from the third millennium BCE.
  1. Bharata (Ancient Times to Modern Era):
  • Rooted in Puranic literature and the Mahabharata, ‘Bharata’ resonates with religious and socio-cultural connotations.
  • Associated with a supraregional and subcontinental territory where Brahmanical society prevailed.
  • Evident during the freedom struggle through slogans like ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’.
  • ‘Bharata’ was derived from the mythological founders of the race, and its popularity during modern times is also due to its usage during the freedom movement.
  1. Aryavarta, Jambudvipa, Nabhivarsa (Ancient Vedic Period):
  • ‘Aryavarta’ referred to the land between the Himalayas and Vindhya ranges, where the Indo-Aryans resided.
  • ‘Jambudvipa’ and ‘Nabhivarsa’ were also used in Vedic texts and Jain literature to signify the subcontinent, emphasizing different cultural contexts.
  1. Hindustan (7th Century BCE):
  • Originated during Persian occupation, ‘Hindustan’ referred to the lower Indus basin.
  • ‘Hind’ in Persian meant ‘Sindhu’ (Indus river), leading to its application to the region beyond Indus.
  • The Persian suffix ‘stan’ (land) was added to form ‘Hindustan’.
  1. India (Ancient to Colonial Era):
  • The Greeks transliterated ‘Hind’ as ‘Indus’, establishing ‘India’ as a name for the region.
  • Colonial usage solidified ‘India’ as a political and geographical term, signifying the subcontinent under British rule.
  • ‘India’ was adopted due to its Graeco-Roman associations, history of use in Europe, and bureaucratic usage such as the Survey of India.

Constitutional Deliberations (1947-1949)

  • The Constituent Assembly engaged in heated debates over the nation’s official name.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru noted the significance of ‘Hindustan’, ‘Bharat’, and ‘India’.
  • Nehru’s book “The Discovery of India” captured the coexistence of these names in the collective consciousness.
  • The Constitution retained ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’, reflecting diverse visions of the nation.
  • The first Article of the Constitution reads, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of states.”

Fact for Prelims

  • In the ancient Indian text, Vishnu Purana, the name ‘Bharat’ finds mention as the landmass that lies north of the ocean and south of snow mountains. It states:

Uttaraṃ yatsamudrasya himādreścaiva dakṣiṇam

varṣaṃ tadbhārataṃ nāma bhāratī yatra santatiḥ

  • This shloka means: “The country (Varsam) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bharatam; there live the descendants of Bharata.

 

Contemporary Reflections

  1. Identity and Pride (2023):
  • Recent developments suggest a potential change in India’s official name to ‘Republic of Bharat’.
  • Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma hinted at the change, signaling a reset in India’s central identification.
  • Political leaders and citizens expressed opinions on the potential change, invoking sentiments of national pride.
  1. Symbolism and Debate:
  • The change of name is interpreted as a move to reflect India’s ancient identity and cultural heritage.
  • Congress leader Jairam Ramesh discussed the implications of the change on national identity and opposition alliances.
  • Shashi Tharoor, a former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, highlighted the significance of both ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’.
  1. Constitutional and Historical Context:
  • Article 1 of the Indian Constitution declares ‘India, that is Bharat’ as a ‘Union of States’.
  • Some leaders emphasized the importance of preserving the brand value associated with the name ‘India’.
  • The historical roots of ‘Bharat’ as described in ancient texts and its constitutional adoption were highlighted.
  1. ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’ Coexistence:
  • Both ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’ have been used interchangeably, signifying the country’s diverse identity.
  • The official names ‘Bharat Ganarajya’ (in Hindi) and ‘Republic of India’ (in English) are present on Indian passports.
  • The names reflect the continuity of historical legacy and modern nation-building.

Conclusion

  • The journey of India’s names mirrors its complex identity, blending history, culture, and politics.
  • As India continues to evolve, its names continue to encapsulate its essence, fostering a deep connection with its past and an ever-evolving future.
  • Each name is a testament to India’s rich tapestry of history, culture, and collective consciousness.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Evolution of Madras to Chennai: Tracing its Historical Transition

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: History of Chennai

Mains level: Not Much

madras chennai

Central Idea

  • Madras Day celebrated on August 22, commemorates the foundation day of the city of Madras, now known as Chennai.

The Birth of Madras

  • 1639: The East India Company (EIC) purchased the town of Madrasapatnam on August 22, 1639, laying the foundation for the modern-day city of Chennai.
  • British Presence: The EIC established trading posts and fortified settlements along the eastern and western coasts, leading to the emergence of Madras as a crucial hub.

Transition from Madras to Chennai

  • British Rule: The region remained under British rule until India gained independence in 1947, with both the state and city referred to as Madras.
  • 1969: The state was officially renamed Tamil Nadu, and in 1996, Madras transformed into Chennai as a nod to its historical roots.

Origins and Significance of Madrasapatnam

  • Origins of the Name: The origin of the name “Madras” remains debated, with theories suggesting connections to local fishermen, churches, and the term “pattinam” (town on the coast).
  • Pre-British History: Madrasapatnam had a history shaped by various rulers, including the Pallavas and Cholas, before the British arrival.

Purchase and Founding of Madrasapatnam

  • Damarla Venkatapathy Nayak: Under his influence, the English were granted a piece of land between the Cooum River and the Egmore River in 1639, where Fort St. George was established.
  • Chennapatanam: The city around Fort St. George was named Chennapatanam, honoring Chennappa Nayak, which later inspired the name “Chennai.”

Urban Growth and Development

  • Growth of the City: Over the centuries, Chennai evolved from Fort St. George and the Black and White towns into a significant urban center.
  • Institutionalization: Under Governor Elihi Yale, a mayor and Corporation were established, and areas like Egmore and Tondiarpet were acquired.

Evolution to Tamil Nadu and Chennai

  • Post-Independence Era: After British rule ended, Madras province became Madras State.
  • Demand for Change: Various demands to rename the state as Tamil Nadu gained traction, with K P Sankaralinganar’s protest in 1956 being a pivotal moment.
  • Name Change: The renaming to Tamil Nadu was approved by Parliament in 1968 and came into effect in 1969.
  • Chennai’s Transition: Chennai’s renaming from Madras in 1996 was part of a broader trend to shed colonial influences, though British influence on these names’ evolution cannot be denied.

Continuing Identity

  • The transformation of Madras to Chennai is not just a change in nomenclature, but a reflection of the dynamic interplay between historical heritage, regional identity, and post-colonial aspirations.
  • The city’s evolution stands as a testament to the diverse threads that weave India’s urban tapestry.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Ajnala Massacre of 1857 and its Rediscovery

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ajnala Massacre

Mains level: Read the attached story

ajnala

Central Idea

  • A recent collaborative effort of professional geneticists has resulted in a scientific confirmation of the Ajnala massacre – an event lost to history for 165 years.
  • This project, marked by emotional intensity and rigorous analysis, brought long-lost victims to light through molecular and isotope data.

Ajnala Massacre

  • Buried Tragedy: 282 soldiers of the 26th Native Bengal Infantry Regiment met a brutal fate during the 1857 uprising, drowned in a well by the British East India Company.
  • Discovery of Location: Cooper’s book provided clues that helped locate the 1857 Kallianwala Martyrs’ Well beneath the Gurdwara Singh Sabha in Ajnala.
  • Chance Encounter: In 2003, historian Surinder Kochhar found a reference to ‘Ajnala’ in a discarded book titled “Crisis in Punjab” by Frederick Henry Cooper.
  • Massacre Rediscovered: Kochhar’s research led to the revelation of the Ajnala Massacre, a grim incident hidden for over 157 years.

Excavation and Revelation

  • Unveiling the Remains: The well was excavated in 2014, exposing the skeletal remains of the soldiers.
  • Gruesome Discovery:  During the 1857 Sepoy mutiny, many Indian soldiers revolted against the British. Around 500 revolted at Mian Mir Cantonment in Lahore.
  • Evading execution: They swam across the Ravi River to reach the town of Ajnala, now in Amritsar district. Of them, 218 were killed by British soldiers at Dadian Sofian village near Ajnala.
  • Dumped into a well: The remaining 282 were stuffed in a small room, where many died of asphyxiation. The rest were shot dead and their bodies were thrown into a well, which was later named “Kalianwala Khu” and “Shaheedan da Khu”.

Verification and Acknowledgment

  • Scientific Verification: DNA-based evidence confirmed that the remains belonged to soldiers of the 26th Native Bengal Infantry regiment.
  • Historical Importance: The Ajnala Massacre adds to the narrative of the 1857 Indian uprising against the British East India Company’s oppression.

Conclusion

  • The Ajnala Massacre underscores the often-overlooked brutalities of the 1857 Indian uprising.
  • The lack of acknowledgement and memorials can be attributed to the government’s hesitance to address uncomfortable aspects of history.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Madan Lal Dhingra and his Contributions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Madan Lal Dhingra

Mains level: Not Much

madanlal dhingra madan lal

Central Idea

  • On the 114th anniversary of his execution, a memorial is being formally inaugurated in honour of Madan Lal Dhingra.

Who was Madan Lal Dhingra?

  • Early Life: Born on September 18, 1883, in an affluent family in Amritsar, Dhingra’s father was a staunch British loyalist, working as a chief medical officer.
  • Shift towards Nationalism: Dhingra’s exposure to the nationalist movement in Lahore during his studies ignited his patriotism.
  • Socio-Economic Concerns: Driven by a sense of justice and concern for India’s impoverished masses, Dhingra’s patriotism extended to socio-economic issues.
  • Expulsion and Resilience: Expelled from college for protesting against the use of British-imported cloth, Dhingra’s defiance marked his commitment to the cause.

Involvement in Revolutionary Circles

  • Contact with Leaders: Dhingra connected with prominent figures like Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Shyamji Krishna Varma, active in London’s revolutionary circles.
  • India House: Dhingra frequented India House, a hub for revolutionary Indian nationalism founded by Shyamji Krishna Varma, further igniting his revolutionary spirit.
  • Abhinav Bharat Mandal: Dhingra joined Abhinav Bharat Mandal founded by Vinayak Savarkar, where he refined his plan to assassinate Curzon Wyllie.

Assassination of Curzon Wyllie

  • Curzon Wyllie’s Profile: Curzon Wyllie was a British Indian officer and intelligence officer known for collecting information on revolutionaries.
  • The Assassination: On July 1, 1909, Dhingra attended an event where Curzon Wyllie was present. Dhingra fired five shots, fatally hitting both Curzon Wyllie and a doctor who tried to intervene.
  • Dhingra’s Justification: During his trial, Dhingra argued that if fighting Germans was patriotic for an Englishman, fighting the British was even more justifiable for him.

Legacy and Memorial

  • Execution and Burial: Dhingra was found guilty, executed on August 17, 1909, and buried in London. His remains were brought to India in 1976.
  • Struggle for a Memorial: A memorial in Dhingra’s name has been a long-standing demand. The efforts culminated in the formal inauguration of the memorial on the 114th anniversary of his execution.
  • Memorial Inauguration: The memorial was inaugurated by Governor Banwari Lal Purohit on August 17, 2023, in Amritsar’s Golbagh area.
  • Memorial’s Significance: The memorial stands as a tribute to Dhingra’s sacrifice and his role in the fight for India’s freedom.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

President pays tribute to Matangini Hazra, Kanaklata Barua

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Matangini Hazra, Kanaklata Barua

Mains level: Not Much

kanaklata

Central Idea

  • On the eve before Independence Day, President of India paid tributes to great women freedom fighters like Matangini Hazra and Kanaklata Barua.

[A] Matangini Hazra

  • Early Life and Dedication: Born in 1869 in Hogla village, West Bengal, Matangini Hazra’s early life was marked by poverty and lack of formal education. She married at a young age and was widowed by 18. Devoted to social causes, she emerged as a dedicated freedom fighter.
  • Gandhian Influence: During the Nationalist movement, Hazra’s admiration for Mahatma Gandhi earned her the nickname “Gandhiburi” in her village. She actively participated in protests, earning her several arrests and jail sentences.
  • Quit India Movement: A prominent leader during the Quit India Movement of 1942, Hazra led a procession of around 6,000 protesters, mostly women, towards the Tamluk police station. She was shot three times by British police during a confrontation, and she passed away at the age of 73 while chanting “Vande Mataram.”
  • Legacy: Matangini Hazra’s sacrifice inspired revolutionaries to establish local governments. In 1977, the first statue of a woman revolutionary in Kolkata Maidan was dedicated to her. Schools, streets, and neighborhoods across Bengal are named after her as a tribute to her immense contribution to the freedom struggle.

[B] Kanaklata Barua

  • Young Martyr: Kanaklata Barua, a symbol of courage, was just 17 years old when she became a martyr. She led the Mrityu Bahini procession to unfurl the Tricolour at Gohpur police station in Assam during the Quit India Movement.
  • Daring Spirit: Despite the age limit for joining the Mrityu Bahini being 18 and above, Barua’s determination led her to be an exception. Just two days into joining, she was at the head of the procession, holding the Tricolour.
  • Tragic End: In a confrontation with the police at the police station, Barua refused to let go of the flag, even as bullets rained down. She fell, holding onto the flag until another volunteer took it from her. Her bravery and sacrifice left an indelible mark on the movement.
  • Legacy: Kanaklata Barua’s story continues to inspire generations. In her honor, the Coast Guard named a Fast Patrol Vessel “ICGS Kanaklata Barua” in 2020, ensuring that her legacy lives on as a testament to her remarkable spirit and dedication to India’s freedom.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Karnail Singh Isru’s contribution in Goan Liberation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Karnail Singh Isru, Goan Liberation

Mains level: Not Much

karnail

Central Idea

  • Karnail Singh Isru, a valiant activist, is remembered with reverence and admiration on India’s Independence Day.
  • He made the ultimate sacrifice while participating in the Goa Liberation Movement, striving for the state’s accession to India.

Who was Karnail Singh Isru?

  • Birth and Childhood: Born on September 9, 1930, in Chak 30 village (now in Pakistan), Isru lost his father at a young age and was raised by his mother. His upbringing was marked by a strong sense of justice and a longing for freedom.
  • Inspired by National Heroes: Isru’s admiration for national heroes like Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh, along with their dedication to the freedom movement, ignited a fire within him. Their struggle against colonial oppression left a deep impact on his young mind.

Joining the Goa Liberation Movement

  • Formation of Ideals: Isru’s involvement in student activism and his presidency of the student union highlighted his commitment to social justice. He joined the Communist Party of India (CPI) and embraced rationalist ideals.
  • Goa Liberation Movement: In the 1950s, despite India’s independence, the territories of Goa, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli remained under Portuguese rule. CPI sent Satyagarhis, followers of Gandhian principles, to Goa to hoist the Indian flag on Independence Day.

His Fateful Journey

  • Sahodrabai Rai’s Leadership: Isru, alongside other Satyagarhis, embarked on the march towards Goa under the leadership of Sahodrabai Rai. They aimed to challenge colonial rule and establish India’s sovereignty in the region.
  • Tragedy Strikes: As they entered the Patradevi village in North Goa, Portuguese forces opened fire on the Satyagarhis. Isru’s unwavering determination led him to the forefront, but tragically, he was struck by a bullet in his chest. His sacrifice was a significant moment in the fight for Goa’s liberation.

Legacy and Remembrance

  • Tributes in Punjab: Isru’s memory is etched in the heart of Punjab, where the government and political parties organize annual functions to honor his sacrifice. A statue, library, park, and school bear his name, reflecting the respect he commands.
  • Recognition in Goa: In Goa, a bronze bust of Isru was installed in the primary school of Patradevi village, commemorating his sacrifice. His bravery and dedication are a source of inspiration for generations.

Also read:

In news: Goa Liberation Day

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Red Fort’s symbolism for Independence Day

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Red Fort

Mains level: Not Much

red fort

Central Idea

  • Every year on August 15, India commemorates its Independence Day with the hoisting of the national flag at the iconic Red Fort in Delhi.
  • This historic tradition, initiated by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, holds deep significance in India’s journey towards self-rule and liberation from colonial rule.

About Red Fort

  • Constructed by: The Red Fort, also known as “Lal Qila” in Hindi, was constructed during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Its construction began in 1638 and was completed in 1648. It was designed to be the main residence of the Mughal emperors.
  • Architectural Marvel: The Red Fort is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture, characterized by its red sandstone walls and intricate marble decorations. It combines Persian, Timurid, and Indian architectural styles.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Red Fort was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. It is recognized for its historical and cultural significance and its exceptional architectural design.
  • Layout: The Red Fort is a massive structure with walls extending over 2 kilometers. It is designed in the shape of an irregular octagon, with two main entrances: the Lahore Gate and the Delhi Gate.
  • Diwan-i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khas: The complex houses the Diwan-i-Aam (Hall of Public Audience) and the Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience). The former was used for addressing the general public, while the latter was reserved for private meetings and discussions.
  • Mumtaz Mahal: Within the complex, there is a white marble structure known as Mumtaz Mahal, often mistaken for the Taj Mahal. It is the burial place of Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Historical Significance of the Red Fort

  • Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Era: Under the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal rule, Delhi emerged as a pivotal capital city. It became synonymous with the seat of power, and the Mughals established their dominion from the magnificent Red Fort.
  • Symbolic Rulership: The Mughal emperors’ association with Delhi granted them symbolic legitimacy even as their actual authority waned. They continued to be recognized as the sovereign rulers of India, despite their diminishing control.
  • Rebellion of 1857: The Rebellion of 1857 further emphasized the Red Fort’s symbolic significance. The rebels rallied around the aged Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, underscoring the fort’s role as a rallying point for indigenous authority.

Impact of British Imperialism

  • British Rule and Red Fort: After suppressing the Rebellion of 1857, the British retained the Red Fort but stripped it of its grandeur. They transformed the fort into a British garrison, erasing elements of its Mughal heritage.
  • Co-opting Symbolism: Despite reducing Delhi’s significance, the British recognized its symbolic importance. The Delhi Durbars and the decision to shift the capital to Delhi from Calcutta highlighted its centrality and authority.

Red Fort and India’s Independence Struggle

  • INA Trials: The Red Fort regained prominence during the Indian National Army (INA) trials, where INA officers were tried for treason. These trials evoked nationalistic sentiments and established the Red Fort as a symbol of resistance against British oppression.
  • Reclaiming for Independence: As India approached independence, Nehru’s decision to hoist the national flag at the Red Fort in 1947 symbolized the reclamation of this historical site from British colonial rule. It marked the assertion of India’s sovereignty and the culmination of its struggle for freedom.

Key events

  • INA Trials: The Red Fort played a crucial role in the trials of the Indian National Army (INA) officers in the mid-1940s. The trials stirred nationalist sentiments and highlighted the site as a symbol of resistance against British rule.
  • Nehru’s Flag Hoisting: Jawaharlal Nehru’s decision to hoist the national flag from the Red Fort on August 15, 1947, signified the reclamation of the site from colonial dominance and marked India’s emergence as a sovereign nation.

Annual Celebration and Symbolism

  • Continuing Tradition: The tradition of hoisting the national flag and delivering the Independence Day address from the Red Fort continues to this day.
  • Reclamation of Identity: The celebrations at the Red Fort annually emphasize the triumph of India’s struggle for independence and the reclaiming of its cultural and historical identity from colonial rule.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Who was Sant Guru Ravidas?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sant Ravidas, Bhakti Movement

Mains level: Not Much

ravidas

Central Idea

  • Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for a ₹100 crore temple dedicated to Sant Ravidas in Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar.

Guru Ravidas

  • Ravidas was an Indian mystic poet-saint of the Bhakti movement and founder of the Ravidassia religion during the 15th to 16th century CE.
  • Venerated as a guru (teacher) in the region of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and mainly Punjab and Haryana. He was a poet-saint, social reformer and spiritual figure.
  • The life details of Ravidas are uncertain and contested. Scholars believe he was born in 1450 CE, in the cobbler caste.
  • Ravidas’s devotional verses were included in the Sikh scriptures known as Guru Granth Sahib.
  • The Panch Vani text of the Dadupanthi tradition within Hinduism also includes numerous poems of Ravidas.
  • He taught the removal of social divisions of caste and gender and promoted unity in the pursuit of personal spiritual freedoms.

Significance of his teachings

  • Philosophy and values of Sant Ravidas like social justice, equality and fraternity have been imbued in our constitutional values.
  • He had envisaged a society that is based on equality and free from any kind of discrimination.
  • He gave it the name ‘Be-gampura’ (a city near Lahore) where there is no place for any kind of grief or fear.
  • Such an ideal city would be bereft of fear, vulnerability or scarcity. Rule of law based on the right ideas like equality and welfare of all would be the principle for governance.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

IPC is history: In 1837, how Macaulay cracked the code

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Three key bills

Mains level: Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, IPC, CrPC, Macaulay's role in shaping India's legal landscape, Rationale behind the new bills

What’s the news?

  • On the final day of the Monsoon Session, Home Minister Amit Shah unleashed a surprising and profound transformation of India’s criminal justice system.

Central idea

  • The introduction of three key Bills in the Lok Sabha signals a pivotal departure from the colonial-era approach to criminal laws. The intent to supplant the archaic Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860, the Evidence Act of 1872, and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1973 aims to usher in relevance, simplicity, and expedited justice.

Three Key Bills

  • Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill:
  • This bill aims to replace the colonial-era Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860.
  • The IPC defines crimes, sets out their elements, and prescribes corresponding penalties.
  • The proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill seeks to revamp the existing penal code to ensure it aligns with contemporary values and caters to the needs of modern society.
  • Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill:
    • This bill is presented alongside the others and intends to replace the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1973.
    • The CrPC outlines procedures related to the administration of criminal justice, including aspects like investigation, arrest, bail, trial, and sentencing.
    • The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill’s primary objective is to streamline these procedures, enhance efficiency, and ensure the equitable treatment of all citizens under the law.
  • Bharatiya Sakshya Bill:
    • The third bill aims to replace the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.
    • The Indian Evidence Act governs the rules of evidence in legal proceedings, including what can be presented as admissible evidence and how it should be evaluated.
    • The proposed Bharatiya Sakshya Bill seeks to modernize and adapt the rules of evidence to current legal requirements, making the legal process more effective and transparent.

The need for codification

  • Complex Legal Landscape: The intricate mix of legal sources—parliamentary charters, Acts, Regulations, customary laws, and religious laws—led to confusion, contradictions, and inconsistencies.
  • Administrative Challenges: The need for effective governance under expanding British colonial control was hindered by fragmented legal systems, causing disorder and unequal justice.
  • Clarity and Predictability: The absence of a unified legal framework caused uncertainty for citizens and administrators, lacking clear guidelines for legal matters.
  • Efficiency in Governance: Codification streamlined administration, enabling efficient enforcement, and consistent application of laws.
  • Enhancing the Rule of Law: Codified laws ensured fairness, transparency, and accessibility, upholding the rule of law more effectively.
  • Eliminating Contradictions: A uniform code resolved inconsistencies and conflicts among different legal systems, ensuring equitable treatment.

Rationale behind the new bills

  • Eliminating Colonial Influence: The current laws, such as the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860, carry a British colonial stamp. The new bills aim to discard this colonial legacy and establish laws that are truly representative of the needs and aspirations of the Indian population.
  • Relevance to Modern Society: The colonial-era laws were formulated in a different historical context and might not effectively address the complexities of contemporary Indian society. The new bills intend to update and adapt the legal framework to align with present-day realities.
  • Enhancing Justice for Citizens: The colonial laws were primarily designed to protect British interests. The new bills seek to prioritize the interests of common Indian citizens, ensuring that the justice system serves their needs and rights.
  • Simplification and Speedy Justice: The new bills aim to simplify legal procedures, making them more accessible and understandable. This simplification is expected to expedite legal processes, ensuring a quicker delivery of justice.
  • Adapting to Technological Advancements: Rapid technological progress has introduced new dimensions to crime and evidence. The new bills are likely to address cybercrime, digital evidence, and other technological challenges in the modern context.
  • Aligning with Contemporary Values: The bills aim to incorporate modern values, human rights principles, and global legal standards into the legal framework. This ensures that the laws are relevant, progressive, and in harmony with present-day societal values.
  • Removing Outdated Provisions: Over time, some provisions of the colonial laws might have become obsolete or irrelevant. The new bills aim to remove or modify such provisions to ensure a more coherent and effective legal framework.

How did the rebellion of 1857 influence the fate of the IPC?

  • Initial Delays and Resistance: Despite Macaulay’s efforts to draft the IPC, its enactment faced hurdles. The project encountered governmental inertia, resistance from European residents who opposed having the same legal status as indigenous populations, and a loss of momentum for reform.
  • Governors-General’s Opposition: Governors-General like Auckland and Ellenborough opposed reforms, considering them unnecessary. This opposition reflected a reluctance to change the existing legal framework and resisted codifying the legal system.
  • East India Company Rule: The governance of India was under the control of the East India Company rather than the British Crown. This administrative structure affected the decision-making process and the pace of legal reforms.
  • Impact of the Rebellion of 1857: The Rebellion of 1857 (also known as the Indian Mutiny or the Sepoy Mutiny) was a widespread uprising against the East India Company’s rule. It challenged the authority of the Company and led to significant consequences.
  • Change in Ruling Authority: The Rebellion marked the decline of the East India Company’s control. In 1858, the British Crown assumed direct control over India, ending the Company’s rule. This transition from Company rule to direct Crown rule was a significant historical shift.
  • Crisis of Legitimacy: The Rebellion and its aftermath raised a crisis of legitimacy for colonial rule. The British claim to enlightened and just governance was seriously undermined by the harsh reprisals and brutal actions taken in response to the Rebellion.
  • Impact on British Perception: The British political classes became aware of the damage caused to the legitimacy of British rule due to the repressive responses to the Rebellion. The principles of constitutionalism and the rule of law, which formed the basis of British governance claims, were called into question.
  • Enactment of the IPC: In this context, the enactment of the IPC was seen as a means to address legitimacy concerns. The codification of laws was considered a step towards presenting a more just and orderly legal system, aiming to restore confidence in British rule’s claims of legality and fairness.

Macaulay’s complex role in shaping India’s legal landscape

  • Macaulay’s Role in Charter Act Debates: During the deliberations of the 1833 Charter Act in the UK Parliament, Macaulay played a significant role in advocating for a uniform legal code for India.
  • Advocating Uniformity and Certainty: Macaulay passionately argued that India needed a legal system characterized by uniformity where possible; diversity where necessary, and certainty in all cases. This approach would provide clarity and consistency in legal matters.
  • Advantage of Absolute Governments: Macaulay believed that the ability to establish a comprehensive legal code was a distinct advantage of absolute governments over popular ones. This viewpoint underscored his belief in the efficacy of centralized legal reforms.
  • Desire for a Role in India: While advocating for the uniform code, Macaulay subtly indicated his interest in securing a role as a law member in India. He recognized the potential financial benefits that such a position could bring.
  • Financial Motivations: Macaulay’s interest in the law member role was driven by financial considerations. He anticipated a substantial salary and the prospect of accumulating wealth during his tenure in India, which would significantly improve his financial situation.
  • Impactful Arrival in India: Macaulay’s arrival in India in 1834 marked the beginning of his active involvement in the legal and legislative affairs of the country. His subsequent contributions and initiatives left a lasting impact on India’s legal landscape.

Conclusion

  • While Macaulay’s legacy carries both praise and censure, his codification journey serves as a foundation for the ongoing transformation. As the new Bills navigate legislative processes, India must remain committed to justice that transcends punitive measures and embodies equity, accessibility, and modern relevance.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Quit India Movement Day on 9th August

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Quit India Movement

Mains level: Read the attached story

quit india

Central Idea

  • On August 9, 1942, India embarked on a historic journey towards independence by launching the Quit India Movement.

Genesis of Quit India Movement

  • Gandhi’s Ultimatum: On August 8, 1942, Mahatma Gandhi issued a powerful ultimatum to the British Raj, urging them to “Quit India.” With the entire Congress leadership imprisoned, the people were galvanized to take matters into their own hands.
  • People-Powered Movement: The Quit India Movement was an authentic display of people’s determination. The call for “Do or Die” echoed in the hearts of millions who rallied on the streets, marking a turning point in the struggle.
  • Massive Scope: The movement’s magnitude was unprecedented, surpassing previous uprisings. India’s masses united to demand complete freedom, showcasing their unwavering commitment to breaking free from colonial shackles.

Birth of the Slogan ‘Quit India’

  • Yusuf Meherally’s Contribution: The catchphrase “Quit India” was coined by Yusuf Meherally, a socialist leader and Mayor of Bombay. He had earlier coined the slogan “Simon Go Back” in 1928 during another anti-colonial agitation.

Precursors to the Movement

  • Failure of Cripps Mission: While factors leading to such a movement had been building up, matters came to a head with the failure of the Cripps Mission. With WW2 raging, the beleaguered British government needed the cooperation of its colonial subjects. With this in mind, in March 1942, a mission led by Sir Stafford Cripps arrived in India to meet leaders of the Congress and the Muslim League.
  • Betrayal on WW2 Promises: The idea was to secure India’s whole-hearted support in the war, and the return offer to Indians was the promise of self-governance. But things did not go that way.
  • No complete freedom: Despite the promise of “the earliest possible realisation of self-government in India”, Cripps only offered dominion status, not freedom.
  • Unviable partition plan: Also, there was a provision for the partition of India, which was not acceptable to the Congress.

Outcomes: Gandhi’s Strategic Shift

  • From Non-Violence to Action: The failure of the Cripps Mission compelled Gandhi to shift from non-violent means to active resistance. The Congress, though initially hesitant to disrupt wartime efforts, embraced mass civil disobedience as a means to achieve freedom.
  • The “Do or Die” Call: On August 8, 1942, Gandhi addressed a massive gathering in Bombay’s Gowalia Tank maidan. He proclaimed the potent mantra of “Do or Die,” pledging India’s resolve to secure freedom at any cost.

Course of Events and Popular Uprising

  • People’s Resilience: The arrest of Congress leaders failed to quell the movement. Ordinary Indians across cities and towns took charge, engaging in acts of civil disobedience, strikes, and protests.
  • Working-Class Participation: Railway tracks were blocked, students boycotted schools, and mill workers across cities joined the movement. Bridges were destroyed, and government symbols were targeted.
  • Violent Phase: The movement escalated to a violent phase, marked by the destruction of infrastructure and defiance of government authority. This time, Gandhi dint resist for violence.

Suppression and Unyielding Passion

  • Brutal Crackdown: The British responded with violence, inflicting casualties, imprisoning thousands, and imposing severe fines. Villages were burned, and repressive measures were enforced.
  • Transformative Impact: Despite being suppressed, the Quit India Movement transformed the freedom struggle’s character. The masses’ fiery passion and unprecedented intensity illuminated the path to India’s imminent independence.

Conclusion

  • The Quit India Movement remains etched in history as a symbol of India’s unyielding spirit and collective determination to overthrow colonial rule.
  • The movement’s legacy lives on, inspiring generations to uphold the ideals of freedom, justice, and national pride.

Try this PYQ:

Q. Quit India Movement was launched in response to:

(a) Cabinet Mission Plan

(b) Cripps Proposals

(c) Simon Commission Report

(d) Wavell Plan

 

Post your answers here.
3
Please leave a feedback on thisx

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

History of Pepper Trade from India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pepper Trade

Mains level: Not Much

pepper

Central Idea

  • Pepper, often referred to as the “king of spices,” played a pivotal role in driving exploration, colonization, and cultural exchanges between the East and West.

Early Origins and Mystique of Pepper

  • Luxury Commodity: Pepper, once considered a luxury good, was produced predominantly along India’s Malabar Coast and was shrouded in secrecy and legend. European Christians believed it came from the mythical land of “Prester John,” while Arabs, who controlled the trade, believed it grew behind waterfalls guarded by fire-breathing dragons.
  • Ancient Trade: Archaeological evidence indicates that pepper was consumed in ancient India as early as 2000 BCE. It was exported to other parts of Asia and North Africa, with the mummified remains of Ramesses the Great from 1213 BCE found with peppercorns in Egypt.
  • Arab Dominance: By the 10th century, Arab traders held a virtual monopoly on the spice trade, connecting India with the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, controlling supply and prices.

Pepper’s Role in Global Commerce

  • Currency and Rent: Pepper became so valuable that it was used as currency and rent in various parts of the world. For example, in 408 BCE, the King of Visigoths demanded 3,000 kilograms of pepper as part of the siege of Rome.
  • Spices and the Age of Discovery: The European craving for spices, particularly pepper, was a driving force behind the Age of Discovery. Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in search of India, while Vasco da Gama found the route to India around the Cape of Good Hope.
  • Portuguese and Dutch Dominance: The Portuguese initially controlled the spice trade from the Malabar region but were unable to dominate the pepper-producing areas. The Dutch East India Company monopolized the sale of pepper and challenged Portuguese supremacy.
  • English East India Company: Queen Elizabeth I granted the English East India Company the right to trade in the East Indies in 1600. The Company’s expeditions marked the foundation of the English colonial presence in India.

Cultural Exchanges and Islam’s Spread:

  • Malabar’s Trading Legacy: The Malabar Coast, known as “the city of spices,” served as a hub for international trade. The Zamorin welcomed traders from various cultures, including Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities.
  • Islamic Influence: The pepper trade helped spread Islam across regions, extending from East Africa to southern China. Malabar witnessed a significant Islamic presence going back almost a thousand years.

Pepper’s Evolution and Legacy

  • From Luxury to Staple: Improved production techniques and cultivation in tropical regions led to pepper becoming a household staple. Its significance in driving exploration and colonial empires remains a significant part of world history.

Conclusion

  • Pepper’s journey through history reflects the transformative power of trade and the influence of commodities in shaping the world.
  • Once a prized luxury, pepper became a driving force behind exploration, colonization, and cultural exchanges between East and West.
  • Its significance as a global commodity and the desire to control its trade shaped the course of history, and its legacy as a vital spice endures in our daily lives.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Person in news: Anna Bhau Sathe

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Anna Bhau Sathe

Mains level: Not Much

anna bhau sathe

Central Idea

  • Telangana CM has expressed a desire to see social reformer, writer, and folk poet Anna Bhau Sathe honoured with the prestigious Bharat Ratna award.

Who was Anna Bhau Sathe?

  • Anna Bhau Sathe, born Tukaram Bhaurao Sathe on August 1, 1920, in Maharashtra’s Wategaon village, emerged as a prominent figure in the field of literature, poetry, and social activism.
  • His journey from humble beginnings in a Dalit family to becoming a prolific writer and folk poet is a testament to his indomitable spirit and commitment to social reform.

Early Life and Struggles

  • Mumbai Sojourn: In 1930, Sathe’s family moved to Mumbai, where he worked as a porter, hawker, and cotton mill helper, enduring the hardships of working-class life.
  • Labour Activism: His participation in the 1934 workers’ strike, led by the Lal Bawta Mill Workers Union, marked the beginning of his engagement in labor and social issues.
  • Learning to Read and Write: Denied schooling due to his Dalit identity, Sathe joined labor study circles where he learned to read and write.

Evolution as a Writer

  • Early Poetry: His first poem, focusing on the menace of mosquitoes in the labour camp, laid the foundation for his future creative endeavours.
  • Cultural Group: Sathe formed the Dalit Yuvak Sangh, a cultural group that composed poems reflecting workers’ protests and agitations.
  • Influence of Progressive Writers: The Progressive Writers Association’s national formation, with writers like Premchand and Faiz Ahmad Faiz, exposed him to translated Russian works, inspiring him to write plays, stories, and novels.

Wide-ranging Impact of His Work

  • Spreading Awareness: Together with his group, Sathe travelled across Mumbai, raising awareness about workers’ rights and social issues.
  • Prolific Output: Over 49 years, he authored 32 novels, 13 collections of short stories, four plays, a travelogue, and 11 ballads (povadas).
  • Cinematic and International Recognition: Several of his works were adapted into films, and some were translated into other languages, including Russian. His “Bangalchi Hak” was presented at London’s Royal Theatre.
  • Depiction of Social Realities: Sathe’s literature delved into the caste and class realities of Indian society during his time.

Left-leaning Ideology and Russian Connection

  • Influence of Marxism: While influenced by Marxism, he also depicted the harsh realities of the caste system in his work.
  • The Lal Bawta Kala Pathak: In 1943, Sathe founded this group, which toured Maharashtra, performing programs on caste atrocities, class conflict, and workers’ rights.
  • Dedication to Dr. Ambedkar: His most famous novel, “Fakira,” was dedicated to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, reflecting his commitment to the Dalit cause.

Russian Inspiration

  • Maxim Gorky’s Influence: Often referred to as the “Maxim Gorky of Maharashtra,” Sathe drew inspiration from Gorky’s work “The Mother” and the Russian Revolution, evident in his writings.
  • Visit to Russia: In 1961, Sathe travelled to Russia with a group of other Indians, fostering his connection with Russian culture.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Opium Wars

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Opium Wars

Mains level: World History: Decolonization in Asia

opium war

Central Idea

  • The Opium Wars, waged by European colonial powers on China, exemplify how opium, as an inanimate object, became a powerful historical agent under specific social and political circumstances.

Possible mains question:

Q. Discuss the historical significance of opium as a powerful agent in shaping world history, with a focus on its role in the Opium Wars and its impact on colonialism and Chinese society.

Story of Opium and Tea

opium

  • Tea’s Introduction to Europe: Tea, originating in China over 2,000 years ago, became popular among the British elite in the mid-17th century and transcended class barriers to become the quintessential British beverage.
  • Trade Deficit with China: However, the British East India Company faced a trade deficit with China due to the import of tea.
  • Opium as a Solution: In 1763, the British acquired a monopoly on opium production and trade, which was already in demand in China. Selling opium to China from their rapidly growing colony in India helped offset the trade deficit caused by tea imports.

Opium Cultivation in India

  • Rapid Growth: Under the British Opium Department, opium production in India saw a massive increase, rising almost 800% within a century. India’s total opium exports to China increased a hundred-fold between 1780 and 1880.
  • Selective Selling: Interestingly, while India grew all the opium, the British avoided selling it in their own colony, choosing instead to push it into Chinese society.

China’s Addiction and Socio-economic Crises

  • Addiction Spreads: The highly addictive and debilitating drug led to widespread addiction among China’s upper classes and literati, causing socio-economic crises.
  • Decline of Qing Dynasty: The ruling Qing dynasty’s inability to curb opium trade eroded the machinery of the state and legitimacy of China’s governance.

The Opium Wars

  • Discovery of Opium: In 1839, after discovering his son’s opium use, the Qing Emperor launched a crackdown, leading to tensions with British opium traders in Canton.
  • First Opium War (1839-42): British forces arrived in China to protect “free trade,” leading to a series of defeats for China. The Treaty of Nanking forced China to compensate British opium traders, cede Hong Kong, and open more ports for European trade.
  • Second Opium War (1856-60): Triggered by a conflict between a Chinese official and British traders, the war further expanded European presence in China and legalized opium trade.

Opium as a Historical Agent

  • Colonialism and Opium: The Opium Wars epitomized colonialism in Asia, generating immense profits for colonialists at the expense of Indian labor and Chinese sobriety.
  • Continued Impact: Opioid crises worldwide show opium’s capacity to transcend social classes, making it a historical force with tragic consequences.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Who was Nawab Wajid Ali Shah (1822-1887)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nawab Wajid Ali Shah

Mains level: NA

nawab

Central Idea

  • An exhibition, heritage walk, and talk will be held in Kolkata to commemorate the bicentenary year of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last king of Awadh.

Nawab Wajid Ali Shah

  • Mirza Wajid Ali Shah (30 July 1822 – 1 September 1887) was the eleventh and final King of Awadh, reigning from 13 February 1847 to 11 February 1856.
  • He is remembered as a poet, playwright, dancer, and patron of the arts who made significant contributions during his rule.

Reign and fall

  • Ascension to the Throne: Wajid Ali Shah became the King of Awadh in February 1847, assuming the position during a period of decline for the kingdom.
  • British Annexation: The British East India Company annexed Awadh on 11 February 1856, just two days before the ninth anniversary of Wajid Ali Shah’s coronation. He was subsequently exiled to Garden Reach in Metiabruz, near Kolkata, living on a pension.

Patron of the Arts

  • Contributions to Music: Wajid Ali Shah was a generous patron of music and a talented composer. He nurtured the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak dance and enriched the light classical form of thumri. He composed ghazals and introduced new ragas, leaving a lasting impact on Hindustani music.
  • Kathak Dance: Wajid Ali Shah’s patronage elevated Kathak dance in Lucknow. He emphasized artistic expression, incorporating drama, emotion, and literature. The king popularized Kathak as a court dance and made it accessible to the common people.
  • Hindustani Theatre: The king established the Jogia Jashan, a grand pageant, and staged Rahas (dance-dramas) filled with poetry, lyrical compositions, and Kathak performances. His contributions laid the foundation for the development of Hindustani theatre.

Literary Pursuits

  • Prose and Poetry: Wajid Ali Shah was a prolific writer in both Persian and Urdu. His works covered various subjects, including history, literature, and personal reflections. Notable works include “Huzn-i-Akhtar,” an autobiographical piece, and “Bani,” a treatise on music and dance.
  • Patronage of Writers: The king patronized numerous poets and writers in his court, including Mirza Ghalib. He granted pensions to renowned literary figures and encouraged the production of works that reflected the culture and life of the era.

Exile Years and Legacy (1856-1887)

  • Exile in Metiabruz: After losing his kingdom, Wajid Ali Shah settled in Metiabruz near Kolkata. He created a miniature version of Lucknow and maintained his lavish lifestyle. Matiya Burj, a magnificent complex, served as a reminder of his beloved city.
  • Enduring Impact: Wajid Ali Shah’s compositions, including his famous thumri “Babul Mora Naihar Chhooto Jaay,” remain influential and have been performed by various artists. His contributions to music, dance, literature, and theatre continue to shape the cultural landscape, preserving his legacy.

Conclusion

  • Mirza Wajid Ali Shah, the last King of Awadh, reigned from 1847 to 1856 before being exiled.
  • His patronage of the arts, including music, dance, theatre, and literature, left an indelible mark on the cultural heritage of Awadh.
  • Despite the challenges he faced and the loss of his kingdom, Wajid Ali Shah’s artistic endeavors and enduring legacy continue to inspire and enrich the region’s cultural identity.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dadabhai Naoroji

Mains level: Not Much

dadabhai

Central Idea

  • Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Indian member of the British Parliament, played a significant role in India’s anti-colonial struggle.
  • His scholarly work exposed the economic exploitation of India under British rule, emphasizing the drain theory.

Who was Dadabhai Naoroji?

  • Early Life: Naoroji was born in Navsari, Gujarat, into a Parsi Zoroastrian family. He received his education at the Elphinstone Institute School.
  • Social Reforms: He founded the Rahnumai Mazdayasan Sabha and the Rast Goftar newspaper to promote Parsi social reforms and clarify Zoroastrian concepts.
  • Political Activism: Naoroji co-founded the London Indian Society and the East India Association, advocating for Indian political rights and countering negative stereotypes.
  • Indian National Congress: He played a crucial role in the Indian National Congress and served as its President on three occasions.
  • British Parliament: Naoroji became the first Indian MP in the British House of Commons, representing Finsbury Central from 1892 to 1895.
  • Economic Critique: His book “Poverty and Un-British Rule in India” exposed the drain of wealth from India to Britain and its impact on India’s development.

His proposition of Drain Theory and Poverty

  • Naoroji’s Drain Theory: He identified six factors contributing to the wealth drain, including foreign governance, lack of immigration, and unequal employment opportunities.
  • Impact of Drain: Naoroji estimated a drain of 200-300 million pounds from India to Britain, which hindered India’s economic progress.
  • Railways and Tribute: Naoroji argued that India paid for services like railways, but the profits were drained out of the country, leading to economic imbalances.
  • Exploitative Trade: British workers in India were encouraged to repatriate their earnings, and Indian goods were undervalued, allowing for economic exploitation.

Major works

  • Started the Rast Goftar Anglo-Gujarati Newspaper in 1854.
  • The manners and customs of the Parsees (Bombay, 1864)
  • The European and Asiatic races (London, 1866)
  • Admission of educated natives into the Indian Civil Service (London, 1868)
  • The wants and means of India (London, 1876)
  • Condition of India (Madras, 1882)

Legacy and Views

  • Naoroji’s Significance: He is considered a crucial figure in India’s independence movement, advocating for responsible government and Indian autonomy.
  • Influence on Gandhi: Mahatma Gandhi was influenced by Naoroji’s writings and recognized him as a father figure for the Indian people.
  • Admirations: Bal Gangadhar Tilak praised Naoroji’s leadership and stated that Indians would unanimously elect him if given the chance.
  • Recognition: Naoroji’s contributions are honoured through various roads, streets, and awards named after him.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Who was Alluri Sitarama Raju?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Alluri Sitarama Raju

Mains level: Tribal revolts

raju

Central Idea

  • The President of India, Draupadi Murmu, honoured the freedom fighter Alluri Sitarama Raju during the closing ceremony of his 125th birth anniversary celebrations in Hyderabad.
  • The President highlighted the significance of Raju’s struggle against injustice and exploitation in India’s freedom struggle.

Alluri Sitarama Raju

  • Raju was believed to be born in 1897 or 1898 in Andhra Pradesh.
  • He became a sanyasi (ascetic) at the age of 18 and gained a mystical aura among the hill and tribal people due to his austerity, knowledge of astrology and medicine, and his ability to tame wild animals.

Revolutionary Activities

  • Raju channelled the discontent of the hill people in Ganjam, Visakhapatnam, and Godavari into effective guerrilla resistance against the British.
  • The Forest Act of 1882 and other colonial policies threatened the tribals’ traditional podu cultivation and forced them into labor.
  • The tribals and muttadars (village headmen) who were affected by the curtailment of their powers by the British government joined together in armed resistance against colonial rule in August 1922.

Contribution to the Freedom Struggle

  • Raju’s guerrilla war, known as the Rampa or Manyam Rebellion, continued until May 1924.
  • The rebellion coincided with Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • Raju admired Gandhi and promoted his ideas of wearing khadi (homespun cloth) and giving up alcohol.
  • However, Raju believed that India could only be liberated through the use of force, contrary to Gandhi’s principle of non-violence.

Capture and Execution

  • Raju’s resistance came to an end when he was captured by the British in May 1924.
  • He was executed for his involvement in the rebellion.
  • Raju became known as the ‘Manyam Veerudu’ or Hero of the Jungle, and his efforts are remembered as a significant contribution to India’s freedom struggle.

Conclusion

  • Overall, Alluri Sitharama Raju played a crucial role in leading a guerrilla resistance against British colonial rule, fighting for the rights of tribal communities, and advocating for India’s independence through forceful means.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Hul Diwas: Remembering the Santhal Rebellion

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Hul Diwas, Santhal Revolt

Mains level: NA

hul divas santhal

Central Idea

  • Prime Minister commemorated Hul Diwas, honoring the sacrifice of Santhals in their fight against British colonial authorities.

What is Hul Divas?

  • The Santhal rebellion, known as the ‘Hul,’ was an organized war against colonialism led by the Santhals, who stood against various forms of oppression inflicted upon them by the British.
  • This article explores the significance of the Santhal rebellion, their identity, the reasons behind the Hul, its organization, and its lasting impact.

Santhals and their Migration

  • The Santhal people, or Santhalis, migrated from the Birbhum and Manbhum regions of Bengal to modern-day Santhal Pargana.
  • The British relocated the Santhals to the forested area of Damin-i-Koh, dislodging the indigenous Pahariya community, as part of their revenue collection strategy.
  • However, the Santhals faced severe colonial oppression, including exploitative moneylenders and the police.

Reasons behind the Hul

  • The Santhals rebelled against the British due to extortions, oppressive extractions, dispossession of property, false measurements, and other illegalities.
  • Tribal councils and meetings discussed the possibility of rebellion, leading to a massive assembly of over 6,000 Santhals on June 30, 1855, marking the beginning of the rebellion.
  • Led by Sidhu and Kanhu, the Santhals rose against the British, attacking symbols of colonial rule and executing moneylenders and zamindars.

Organization of the Hul

  • Contrary to popular belief, the Hul was a well-planned and organized political war.
  • Evidence from documents and historical accounts reveals preparations such as guerrilla formations, military teams, detectives, secret bases, logistics, and a network of message carriers for coordination.
  • Non-Adivasi Hindu castes also participated in the rebellion, highlighting the diverse nature of the movement.

Lesser-Known Facts about the Hul

  • The rebellion saw participation from 32 communities, both tribals and non-tribals, challenging the notion that it was solely a Santhal rebellion.
  • Phulo-Jhano, two sisters, led an army of 1,000 women, playing crucial roles in providing food supply, gathering information, and attacking British camps.
  • The East India Company’s army was defeated twice during the rebellion, debunking the belief that they were invincible.

British Narratives and Accounts

  • British reports and personal narratives provide insights into the causes of the Santhal rebellion, including excessive taxation, falsehood, and negligence of British officials, extortion by moneylenders, corruption, and oppression.
  • The sufferings inflicted by moneylenders or ‘mahajans’ on the Santhals were a primary cause of the uprising.

Accounts from Prisoners and Divine Intervention

  • Similar to other tribal uprisings, accounts exist of deities appearing in dreams or before the rebels.
  • Judicial proceedings of captured Santhals revealed instances where deities instructed rebellion leaders to fight against the British and oppressors.

Lasting Impact of the Hul

  • The Santhal rebellion did not end with its suppression in 1855; it continued to inspire future uprisings, such as the Santhal involvement in the 1857 mutiny.
  • The Hul rebellion symbolized resistance against British colonialism and laid the foundation for subsequent movements in Jharkhand.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Mahalanobis in the era of Big Data and AI

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Applications of Big Data and AI

Mains level: Significant developments in Big Data and AI and the Relevance of P.C. Mahalanobis

Big Data

Central Idea

  • Professor P.C. Mahalanobis, the pioneer of statistics in India, left an indelible mark on the field of statistics and survey culture in the country. His contributions, including the establishment of the Indian Statistical Institute, continue to shape the nation’s statistical landscape. As India grapples with the evolving socio-economic dynamics in the post-pandemic era, the absence of Mahalanobis’s expertise is keenly felt. This era, characterized by copious amounts of data, is commonly referred to as the age of Big Data

*Relevance of the topic*

  • Due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Census 2021 and the related field activities have been postponed.
  • Questions over data quality and delay in releasing surveys has been raised
  • You can use this as case study and examples

Mahalanobis’s strategy in handling large-scale data

  • Tackling Big Data: Mahalanobis encountered a Big Data challenge when his large-scale surveys yielded substantial amounts of data that required effective analysis for planning purposes. He successfully persuaded the government to procure the country’s first two digital computers in 1956 and 1958 for the Indian Statistical Institute. This accomplishment marked the introduction of computers and their utilization in handling vast amounts of data in India.
  • Embracing Technology: Mahalanobis embraced technology throughout his career. He built simple machines to facilitate surveys and measurements, displaying a keen interest in leveraging technology for data collection and analysis. His adoption of digital computers showcases his progressive approach to incorporating technological advancements into statistical practices.
  • Mathematical Calculations: Mahalanobis’s strategy involved employing complex mathematical calculations to tackle the extensive data generated from surveys. By utilizing digital computers, he aimed to streamline and expedite the process of analyzing large-scale datasets, enabling effective planning and decision-making.
  • Built-in Cross-Checks: Mahalanobis was inspired by Kautilya’s Arthashastra and introduced the concept of built-in cross-checks in his surveys. This approach aimed to ensure data accuracy and reliability, minimizing errors and contradictions in the collected data. These cross-checks were implemented to enhance the quality control of statistical analysis and maintain the integrity of the findings.

Advantages of Big Data

  • Improved Decision-Making: Big Data analytics provides organizations with valuable insights and patterns derived from vast amounts of data. These insights support data-driven decision-making, enabling organizations to make informed and evidence-based choices that can lead to improved outcomes.
  • Enhanced Customer Understanding: Big Data allows organizations to gain a deeper understanding of their customers. By analyzing large and diverse datasets, businesses can identify customer preferences, behavior patterns, and trends, enabling personalized marketing strategies, product development, and customer experiences.
  • Operational Efficiency: Big Data analytics can optimize operational processes by identifying bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas for improvement. By analyzing data from various sources, organizations can streamline workflows, reduce costs, and enhance productivity.
  • Innovation and New Product Development: Big Data insights can drive innovation and the development of new products and services. By analyzing market trends, consumer demands, and competitive landscapes, organizations can identify opportunities for innovation and create products tailored to specific market needs.
  • Fraud Detection and Security: Big Data analytics can help in detecting and preventing fraudulent activities. By analyzing patterns and anomalies in data, organizations can identify potential fraud or security breaches in real-time, reducing financial losses and protecting sensitive information.
  • Personalized Marketing and Customer Experience: Big Data enables targeted and personalized marketing campaigns. By analyzing customer data, organizations can segment their audience, deliver customized messages, and create personalized experiences that resonate with individual customers.
  • Improved Healthcare and Public Health: Big Data analytics has the potential to revolutionize healthcare. By analyzing patient data, medical records, and clinical research, healthcare providers can make better diagnoses, develop personalized treatment plans, and identify public health trends for proactive interventions.

key challenges associated with Big Data

  • Data Quality and Integrity: Ensuring the quality and integrity of Big Data can be a significant challenge. Data may contain errors, inconsistencies, and biases, which can adversely affect the accuracy and reliability of analyses and insights.
  • Data Privacy and Security: The vast amount of data collected and stored in Big Data systems raises concerns about privacy and security. Safeguarding sensitive information and preventing unauthorized access or data breaches require robust security measures and compliance with privacy regulations.
  • Data Storage and Management: Storing and managing large volumes of data can be complex and costly. Big Data requires scalable and efficient storage solutions, including distributed storage systems and cloud-based platforms. Managing data across various sources and formats also poses challenges.
  • Data Processing and Analysis: Processing and analyzing massive datasets in a timely manner can be computationally intensive and time-consuming. Traditional data processing tools and techniques may not be suitable for handling Big Data, requiring the use of specialized frameworks, algorithms, and infrastructure.
  • Data Integration and Interoperability: Integrating and making sense of diverse data sources can be challenging due to differences in formats, structures, and semantics. Ensuring interoperability and data integration across systems and platforms is crucial for deriving comprehensive insights from Big Data.

Big Data

Way forward: Mahalanobis’s potential approach to Big Data and AI

  • Embrace Technological Advancements: Following Mahalanobis’s lead, it is crucial to embrace the latest technological advancements in handling Big Data. Continuously explore emerging technologies, such as advanced analytics tools, cloud computing, and distributed computing frameworks, to efficiently process and analyze large-scale datasets.
  • Foster Statistical Expertise: Cultivate statistical expertise to navigate the complexities of Big Data. Invest in training programs and educational initiatives to develop a skilled workforce capable of extracting insights and interpreting the vast amounts of data generated. Promote interdisciplinary collaboration, involving statisticians, technologists, domain experts, and policymakers.
  • Ensure Data Integrity and Quality: Establish robust data governance frameworks to ensure the integrity and quality of Big Data. Implement built-in cross-checks, validation processes, and quality control measures to enhance data accuracy, reliability, and transparency. Adhere to ethical guidelines to safeguard privacy, prevent bias, and address fairness in AI and Big Data applications.
  • Encourage Ethical AI and Big Data Practices: Promote ethical AI and Big Data practices by integrating principles such as transparency, fairness, and accountability. Develop guidelines and regulations that address potential biases, discrimination, and privacy concerns. Foster a culture of responsible data use and continuous evaluation of AI systems to mitigate risks and ensure positive societal impact.
  • Foster Collaboration and Interdisciplinary Approaches: Promote collaboration across disciplines, sectors, and organizations to leverage diverse expertise in tackling Big Data challenges. Foster partnerships between academia, industry, and government entities to encourage knowledge sharing, research collaboration, and the development of innovative solutions.
  • Invest in Capacity Building and Education: Invest in educational programs and initiatives to build a skilled workforce capable of harnessing the potential of Big Data and AI. Promote data literacy and provide training opportunities to empower individuals and organizations to effectively collect, analyze, and interpret data. Support research and development in the field of AI and Big Data to drive innovation.
  • Inform Evidence-based Decision-making: Advocate for evidence-based decision-making by integrating data-driven insights into policy formulation and resource allocation. Encourage policymakers to leverage Big Data analytics to understand societal trends, make informed decisions, and address pressing challenges effectively.

Conclusion

  • Professor P.C. Mahalanobis’s legacy as a statistical luminary remains relevant in the age of Big Data and AI. His unique combination of perfectionism, tireless dedication, and visionary leadership positions him as an ideal candidate to handle vast amounts of data and embrace technological advancements for the betterment of humanity and national development. As India’s statistical landscape continues to evolve, the absence of Mahalanobis’s expertise and guidance is keenly felt

Also read:

Remembering P C Mahalanobis

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: 1947 Partition of Bengal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Partition of Bengal

Mains level: Read the attached story

partition of bengal

Central Idea

  • The recent controversy surrounding West Bengal’s ‘Foundation Day’ has brought attention to the partition of Bengal in 1947.
  • This event marked a significant chapter in the history of the state, leading to the creation of West Bengal and East Pakistan (later Bangladesh).

Partition of Bengal in 1947: An overview

  • Demand for a separate Muslim nation-state: The partition of Bengal was a consequence of the Muslim League’s demand for a separate nation-state for Indian Muslims.
  • Communal violence in Calcutta: The society became deeply divided along religious lines, leading to severe communal violence, particularly in Calcutta in August 1946.

Contours of East Pakistan’s Formation

  • Partition of India and Pakistan: In June 1947, it was decided to partition India into India and Pakistan. Punjab and Bengal, both with significant non-Muslim minorities, were also partitioned along religious lines.
  • Boundary Commission and the Radcliffe Line: A boundary commission, chaired by Sir Cyril Radcliffe, was established to demarcate separate districts with Hindu and Muslim majorities. The resulting boundary line is known as the Radcliffe Line.

Concentration of Muslims in East Pakistan

  • Demographic composition: Bengal had a Hindu majority in the western districts and a Muslim majority in the eastern districts.
  • Grouping under East Pakistan: The eastern districts were grouped together to form East Pakistan, similar to how Muslims were concentrated in the western districts of Punjab.

Precursor: Curzon’s Partition of Bengal in 1905

  • Historical context: Lord Curzon partitioned Bengal in 1905, aiming to break the unity of the Bengali-speaking population and create a separate province with a Muslim majority.
  • Reversal of partition: The partition of 1905 was withdrawn in 1911, restoring the linguistic unity of Bengal while separating Bihar and Orissa from Bengal.

Aftermath of the 1947 Partition

  • Communal violence and Gandhi’s influence: Bengal witnessed significant communal violence in 1946, particularly in Calcutta and Noakhali. However, the presence of Mahatma Gandhi helped prevent large-scale violence during the partition.
  • Migration and displacement: Unlike Punjab, migration in Bengal occurred gradually over time, resulting in a continuous trickle of people moving from East to West and vice versa. This led to a large refugee population and the need for rehabilitation and settlements.

Conclusion

  • The partition of Bengal in 1947 was a complex event with far-reaching consequences.
  • Understanding this historical context helps shed light on the impact it had on the population and the socio-economic landscape of West Bengal and todays Bangladesh.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Who was Rani Durgavati?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Rani Durgavati

Mains level: NA

rani durgavati

Central Idea

  • The recent launch of the Rani Durgavati Gaurav Yatra by the Madhya Pradesh government has sparked interest in the life and legacy of Rani Durgavati.
  • As a symbol of India’s self-determination and bravery, Rani Durgavati’s story has gained prominence in political discourse, particularly in relation to tribal outreach.

Who was Rani Durgavati?

  • Birth and lineage: Rani Durgavati was born in 1524 in the Chandela dynasty in present-day Uttar Pradesh, near the border with Madhya Pradesh. Her father was Raja Salbahan of Ratha and Mahoba, known for the famous Khajuraho temples.
  • Marriage and widowhood: She married Dalpat Shah, the son of Gond King Sangram Shah of the kingdom of Garha-Katanga. However, she was widowed a few years later and took charge of ruling the kingdom.

Mughal Attack on Garha-Katanga

  • Early Mughal expansion: During the mid-16th century, Akbar led the Mughal Empire’s expansion in India. Rani Durgavati fought against Baz Bahadur, the Sultan of Malwa, who was eventually defeated by Akbar. However, conflicts between the two states continued.
  • Rani Durgavati’s leadership: Rani Durgavati managed the affairs of the kingdom for 16 years, maintaining trade relations and undertaking public works. She was admired for her beauty, grace, courage, and prosperity.

Battle and Sacrifice

  • Mughal invasion: The Mughal governor Asaf Khan launched an attack on Garha-Katanga, drawn by tales of Rani Durgavati’s bravery and prowess.
  • Her strategy: She positioned her troops in a challenging forested area called Narhi. Although she won the initial battle, the Mughals fortified their position.
  • Sacrifice and defeat: During the prolonged fighting, Rani Durgavati was struck by arrows and, rather than surrendering, is believed to have stabbed herself with her dagger. Her son also lost his life. Asaf Khan consolidated his victory and later returned the kingdom to a member of the Gond dynasty.

Legacy and Present-day Politics

  • Political symbolism: Rani Durgavati is hailed as a patriotic ruler and defender of culture, becoming a symbol of pride and honor. .
  • Tribal outreach: The renaming of public spaces after tribal leaders reflect efforts to engage with tribal communities, which constitute a significant population in Madhya Pradesh.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Heliopolis Memorial for Indian Soldiers

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Heliopolis Memorial

Mains level: NA

heliopolis

Central Idea

  • PM Modi will pay his respects at the Heliopolis (Port Tewfik) Memorial in the Heliopolis War Cemetery in Cairo, Egypt.
  • Here the names of nearly 4,000 Indian soldiers who fought in World War 1 in Egypt and Palestine are commemorated.

Heliopolis Memorial

  • Unveiling and Destruction: The original Port Tewfik memorial unveiled in 1926 and later destroyed during the Israeli-Egyptian War of 1967.
  • New Memorial: A new memorial was erected in Heliopolis Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery in 1980, commemorating Indian soldiers who died in the First World War campaigns in Egypt and Palestine.
  • Inclusion of Names: The new memorial includes the names of Indian soldiers, unlike its predecessor.

Role of the Indian Army in West Asia during World War 1

  • Significance of Indian Troops: Indian troops played a major role in securing the Suez Canal in Egypt and participating in campaigns in Palestine and Mesopotamia.
  • Battle of Haifa: Indian cavalry’s participation in the Battle of Haifa, commemorated by a war memorial in New Delhi.
  • Diverse Representation: The memorial commemorates numerous Indian regiments from the Indian Army and State Forces of princely states.
  • Princely States’ Contribution: Troops from princely states actively participated in various theatres of the war effort during World War 1.

Prominent Indian Soldier Commemorated  

  • Risaldar Badlu Singh: Risaldar Badlu Singh, a brave soldier and Victoria Cross recipient, is commemorated at the memorial.
  • Selfless Sacrifice: Risaldar Badlu Singh displayed exceptional bravery and self-sacrifice during a charge against enemy positions.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Gita Press to receive Gandhi Peace Prize

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: The International Gandhi Peace Prize

Mains level: Not Much

gandhi gita

Central Idea

  • Gita Press, located in Gorakhpur is awarded the prestigious Gandhi Peace Prize for 2021.
  • The jury, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, unanimously selects Gita Press for this honor.

The  International Gandhi Peace Prize

Establishment 1995
Award Details Cash prize of ₹1 crore (US$130,000), which can be converted into any currency worldwide

Includes a plaque and a citation

Jury composition PM (Chair), Leader of the Opposition, Chief Justice, Speaker, and Eminent person
Evaluation Evaluation based on contributions to non-violence and Gandhian methods

Nominees are considered from competent individuals

Award can be withheld if no deserving candidate is found

Recent laureates Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Bangladesh Founder) was posthumously awarded in 2020

Significance of the Prize

  • The International Gandhi Peace Prize pays tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy.
  • The award recognizes outstanding contributions to social, economic, and political transformation through non-violence and Gandhian methods.

About Gita Press

  • Founding and Establishment: Gita Press was officially founded in 1923 by Jaydayal Goyandka, a businessman from Bankura, West Bengal.
  • Authenticity of texts: Goyandka’s extensive travels as a businessman led him to form satsangs with like-minded individuals in various towns.
  • Translation work: The group desired an authentic translation and commentary of the Bhagavad Gita, which led to the establishment of Gita Press.
  • Publication: Gita Press emerged as a prominent publisher with the launch of its monthly magazine, Kalyan, in 1926.
  • Versatility: It offers over 1,850 religious books in 15 languages, with approximately 93 crore copies sold.

Pioneering work by the Press

  • Promotion of Hindi: It played a pivotal role in the consolidation of Hindi as a language of masses.
  • Bridging Divisions: Gita Press strategically focused on emotional cultivation and avoided highlighting differences between various Hindu sects, fostering unity among the Hindu community.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Kamala Sohonie: First Indian Woman to earn PhD

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kamala Sohoni

Mains level: NA

kamala

Central Idea

  • On June 18, the Google Doodle commemorated Kamala Sohonie on her 112th birth anniversary.
  • Kamala Sohonie, the first Indian woman to earn a PhD in a scientific discipline, made significant contributions in the field of nutrition and fought against malnutrition among tribal children.
  • Despite facing gender bias, including from Nobel laureate CV Raman, Sohonie left a lasting impact on Indian science.

Who was Kamala Sohonie?

  • Kamala Sohonie (nee Bhagvat) was born on June 18, 1911, in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
  • Her father and uncle were chemists who had studied at the Tata Institute of Sciences (now IISc, Bengaluru).
  • Sohonie graduated in 1933 with a BSc degree in Chemistry and Physics from Bombay University, topping the merit list.

Encounter with CV Raman

  • Sohonie faced rejection from CV Raman when she applied for an MSc degree at IISc.
  • Determined, she confronted Raman and challenged him to allow her admission.
  • Raman reluctantly agreed but imposed several conditions, including probation and restrictions on her status as a student.

Academic Achievements and Work

  • Sohonie completed her course with distinction and secured admission to Cambridge University, where she completed her PhD in just 14 months.
  • Her research focused on potatoes, leading to the discovery of the enzyme ‘Cytochrome C’ and its role in cellular respiration.
  • Returning to India, Sohonie served as the head of the Department of Biochemistry at Lady Hardinge College, New Delhi.
  • She worked at the Nutrition Research Lab, Coonoor, and the Royal Institute of Science in Mumbai, studying various food items to identify their nutrients.

Contribution to Nutrition and Social Impact

  • Sohonie’s notable work revolved around ‘neera,’ a palm extract drink recommended by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India’s first President.
  • She demonstrated that ‘neera’ was a rich source of Vitamin C and other nutrients, making it beneficial for the health of malnourished tribal children and pregnant women.
  • Sohonie also collaborated with the Aarey Milk project to improve milk quality.
  • Beyond her scientific endeavors, she played a vital role as a founding member of the Consumer Guidance Society.

Personal Life and Legacy

  • In 1947, Sohonie married MV Sohonie, an actuary, and the couple resided in Mumbai.
  • Kamala Sohonie’s accomplishments broke barriers and inspired future generations of women in science.
  • Her resilience against gender bias and remarkable contributions to nutrition and consumer protection remain an enduring legacy.

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In news: Prime Ministers Museum and Library Society

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML)

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • The decision to rename the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) Society has ignited a political controversy.
  • The institution will now be known as the ‘Prime Ministers Museum and Library Society’.
  • The controversy reflects the ongoing debate surrounding dynastic politics in India.

About the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) (erstwhile)

  • NMML in New Delhi, is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture.
  • It is a leading resource center on India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • Established in 1964, it houses extensive archives, including Mahatma Gandhi’s writings and private papers of prominent figures like Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, C. Rajagopalachari, and Sarojini Naidu.
  • It is located in the majestic Teen Murti House, the official residence of the first Prime Minister of India.
  • It has four major constituents, namely, a Memorial Museum, a library on modern India, a Centre for Contemporary Studies and the Nehru Planetarium.

Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya (the PM’s Museum)

  • In April 2022, the NMML inaugurated the Museum as a new addition to the institution.
  • It is a tribute to every Prime Minister of India since Independence, showcasing their contributions to the nation’s development over the past 75 years.

Why rename it now?

  • The meeting acknowledged the contributions of all past and present Prime Ministers and expressed the mission of the Society to preserve India’s democratic journey and legacy.
  • It was felt that renaming the institution would better align with this purpose.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Ram Prasad Bismil: A Revolutionary and a Poet

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ram Prasad Bismil, Mainpuri Conspiracy of 1918

Mains level: Not Much

ramprasad bismil

Central Idea: This article revolves around the life, contributions, and legacy of Ram Prasad Bismil, a revolutionary figure in India’s freedom struggle against British colonial rule.

Ram Prasad Bismil

  • Birth: Ram Prasad Bismil was born on June 11, 1897, in Shahjahanpur district, UP.
  • Revolutionary activities: He actively fought against British Raj and participated in notable events like the Mainpuri Conspiracy of 1918 and the Kakori Train Action of 1925.
  • Founding of Hindustan Republican Association: Bismil established the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA, later known as the Hindustan Socialist RA) and played a pivotal role in the organization.
  • Sacrifice and execution: Bismil was hanged for his revolutionary activities on December 19, 1927, at the age of 30.

Early life and Arya Samaj connections

  • Upbringing and linguistic influences: Bismil was born into a Rajput Tomar family and learned Hindi from his father, Urdu from a nearby maulvi, and also studied in an English medium school in Shahjahanpur.
  • Association with Arya Samaj: Bismil joined the Arya Samaj during his childhood, becoming a prolific writer and poet. He used pen names such as ‘Agyat’, ‘Ram’, and the well-known ‘Bismil’.
  • Poem “Mera Janm”: At the age of 18, Bismil wrote the poem “Mera Janm” expressing his anger over the death sentence of Arya Samaj missionary Bhai Parmanand.

Major events associated to Bismil

(1) Mainpuri Conspiracy

  • Political disillusionment: Bismil became disillusioned with the moderate wing of the Congress Party and rejected negotiation or appeasement with the British.
  • Formation of Matrivedi: Bismil established the revolutionary organization Matrivedi and collaborated with Genda Lal Dixit, who had connections with dacoits and sought to utilize them in the armed struggle.
  • Mainpuri Ki Pratigya: Bismil’s famous poem, “Mainpuri Ki Pratigya,” was widely distributed in pamphlets across the United Provinces. He carried out acts of looting to gather funds for his organization.

(2) Founding the Hindustan Republican Association

  • Return to Shahjahanpur: After being underground for several years, Bismil returned to Shahjahanpur in February 1920.
  • Formation of HRA: Bismil, along with Ashfaqullah Khan, Sachindra Nath Bakshi, and Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee, founded the Hindustan Republican Association. Later, Chandra Shekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh joined the organization.
  • Release of the manifesto: Bismil played a significant role in penning the manifesto titled “Krantikari,” which was officially released on January 1, 1925. The manifesto called for an organized and armed revolution to establish a federal Republic of United States of India.

(3) Kakori Train Action

  • Objective and planning: The Kakori Train Action aimed to rob a train carrying treasury bags between Shahjahanpur and Lucknow.
  • Execution of the action: On August 9, 1925, around ten revolutionaries, including Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan, stopped the train at Kakori station, overpowered the guard, and looted the treasury bags containing approximately Rs 4,600.
  • Consequences and crackdown: The action drew both British outrage and mixed responses from the Indian public. The misfiring of a gun resulted in the accidental killing of a passenger, Ahmad Ali, dampening public support. Subsequently, a violent crackdown led to the arrest of most involved, excluding Chandrashekhar Azad.

Death and legacy

  • Trial and sentencing: Bismil, along with Ashfaqullah Khan and Rajendranath Lahiri, faced a long trial and were ultimately sentenced to death.
  • Execution and martyrdom: On December 19, 1927, Bismil was executed at the age of 30, leaving behind a legacy of sacrifice and dedication to the cause of freedom.
  • Enduring influence and remembrance: Bismil’s poetry continues to inspire and his call for Hindu-Muslim unity serves as a symbol of communal harmony. He is remembered for his revolutionary spirit and deep concern for society, justice, and equality.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Dr. M. Emperumal Naidu: A Gandhian Freedom Fighter

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dr. M. Emperumal Naidu

Mains level: Not Much

Emperumal Naidu

Central Idea: Naidu Hospital in Kottar (Nagercoil, TN), stands as a symbol of the forgotten heroes of the freedom movement, spearheaded by Dr. M. Emperumal Naidu, and their enduring impact on social justice

Who was Dr. M. Emperumal Naidu (1880-1958)?

  • Introduction to Naidu Hospital: Naidu Hospital, located in Kottar is a significant hospital with historical ties to the freedom movement and the fight for social justice.
  • Founder: M. Emperumal Naidu, a freedom fighter and associate of Mahatma Gandhi, established the hospital.
  • Contribution to Vaikom Movement: Naidu actively participated in the Vaikom temple street entry movement, following the footsteps of Periyar E.V. Ramasamy and his wife Nagammal.
  • Enduring the Struggle: Naidu faced adversity during the movement, including being splattered with limestone powder and standing in waist-deep rainwater with Gandhidas Muthusamy.

His Life and Achievements

  • Family and Education: Naidu’s ancestors hailed from Andhra Pradesh, and his father served as an artiste in the court of Travancore. Naidu studied at Scott Christian College in Nagercoil and later attended the Madras Medical College.
  • Involvement in Freedom Movement: Naidu became actively involved in the freedom movement while studying in England and declined a medical college offer to pursue a degree in Glasgow, aligning himself with the ideals of Gandhi.
  • Contributions to Healthcare: In 1914, Naidu established a hospital in Kottar, one of the first private hospitals providing modern medical treatment. He offered free treatment to Dalits and marked prescriptions with ‘HF’ (Harijan Free).
  • Leadership and Connections: Naidu played a crucial role in the Indian National Congress and hosted prominent leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai, C.F. Andrews, Sarojini Naidu, and Jawaharlal Nehru in Nagercoil.
  • Link to Gandhi: Naidu served as a vital link to Gandhi in Travancore and actively participated in various campaigns and Congress meetings alongside him.

Major contribution: Temple Entry Movement

  • Vaikom Temple Street Movement: Naidu, along with his wife and other volunteers, actively participated in the Vaikom temple street movement, advocating for equal rights and facing arrests and restrictions.
  • Continued Activism: Naidu continued organizing protests and campaigns, leading a protest in Suchindram to open temple streets to all communities in the Kanniyakumari district.
  • Achievements: Naidu’s relentless efforts for temple entry and the welfare of Dalits led to the Travancore government issuing a proclamation in 1936, opening temple doors and streets to all communities.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar to be renamed Ahilyanagar

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ahilyabai Holkar, Ahmednagar

Mains level: Not Much

ahmad ahilya

Central Idea

  • Government decision: Ahmednagar district was renamed after Punyashlok Ahilya Devi Holkar.
  • Support from officials: Government officials express gratitude and believe it enhances district honour.
  • Previous discussions: Maharashtra Education Minister planned to rename the city as ‘Punyashlok Ahilyadevi Nagar’.

Origin and History of Ahmednagar

  • Ancient references: Ahmednagar was mentioned in reference to Mauryan Emperor Ashok (240 BC).
  • Rule of prominent kingdoms: Rashtrakuta Dynasty, Western Chalukyas, and Delhi Sultanate.
  • Emergence of Ahmednagar: Revolt led to the establishment of Bahmani kingdom, with Ahmednagar as one of the five independent kingdoms.

Malik Ahmad Nizam Shah and Ahmednagar

  • PM of Bahmani Sultanate: Malik Ahmad Nizam Shah assumed the position in 1486.
  • Victory and city foundation: Defeated the king of Bahmani kingdom and founded Ahmednagar in 1494.
  • Unifying communities: Gained loyalty of Muslims, Maratha peasants, and warriors.

Ahilyabai Holkar: Early Life and Marriage

  • Remarkable upbringing: Ahilyabai born in Chondi village, received rare education.
  • Marriage to Khande Rao: Malhar Rao Holkar arranged the marriage after being impressed by Ahilyabai’s devotion.

Administration and Temple-building

  • Assumption of power: Ahilyabai took control of Malwa after her husband’s death in 1754.
  • Effective governance: Excelling in administration and military strategies under her father-in-law’s guidance.
  • Temple restoration: Notable efforts in restoring Hindu temples, earning respect as a capable ruler.

Legacy of Ahilyabai Holkar

  • Recognizing achievements: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inauguration of Samudra Darshan Path and Somnath Exhibition Gallery.
  • Symbol of inspiration: Somnath temple built by Ahilyabai Holkar in 1783, representing triumph of truth and faith.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Neh Pema Shelphu Shrine

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Neh Pema Shelphu Shrine

Mains level: NA

neh pema

Central Idea

  • The landowner of a disputed area in Arunachal Pradesh has demanded either compensation from Army for a land where Army has built Gurdwara near the Neh Pema Shelphu Shrine.

Neh Pema Shelphu Shrine

  • It is a holy shrine located in the Mechukha Valley of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It holds significant religious importance for the local Memba Buddhist community.
  • The shrine is believed to have been sanctified by Guru Padmasambhava, a prominent figure in Tibetan Buddhism, during his exploration of the area in the 8th century AD.
  • It has been a place of worship and pilgrimage for the Memba people since 1274 AD, according to historical records.
  • It attracts hundreds of Buddhists who visit the shrine annually during a pilgrimage in March.

Why in news?

  • The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee claimed the shrine associated with Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh Guru, in Arunachal Pradesh has been turned into a Buddhist shrine.

 

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

What is ‘Adopt a Heritage’ Scheme?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Adopt a Heritage Scheme

Mains level: Read the attached story

heritage

Central Idea

  • Private firms, companies, and public sector units can adopt and maintain State-owned archaeological sites or monuments through agreements with the Union Ministry of Culture.
  • These businesses are referred to as “Monument Mitras” under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ Scheme.

Adopt a Heritage scheme

  • The ‘Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan’ scheme is a collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture, and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Launched in September 2017, it aims to develop selected monuments and heritage sites across India with the participation of public and private entities.
  • The scheme focuses on providing and maintaining basic amenities, improving accessibility, cleanliness, illumination, and advanced facilities like surveillance systems and night-viewing facilities.

Selection and Adoption Process

  • Sites/monuments are selected based on tourist footfall and visibility, and they can be adopted by private and public sector companies and individuals known as “Monument Mitras.”
  • The Oversight and Vision Committee, co-chaired by the Tourism Secretary and the Culture Secretary, selects the Monument Mitras based on their vision for developing the site.
  • No financial bid is involved in the selection process, and corporate entities are expected to use their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for the upkeep of the site.
  • The adopted sites provide limited visibility to the Monument Mitras on the premises and on the Incredible India website.
  • The oversight committee has the authority to terminate the memorandum of understanding in case of non-compliance or non-performance.

Previous Initiatives and Controversy

  • The government previously formed the National Culture Fund and initiated the ‘Campaign Clean India’ scheme to involve the corporate sector in maintaining tourist sites.
  • The ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme faced controversy when it was reported that Dalmia Bharat, under a MoU, would build infrastructure and maintain the Red Fort.
  • Critics argued that the involvement of private parties in iconic monuments raised concerns about the preservation of India’s heritage.
  • The government defended the scheme, stating that it aimed to increase tourist footfall and improve the maintenance of sites.

Perils and Challenges of the Scheme

  • Diminishing role of ASI: The scheme sidelines the role of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and disregards established guidelines for presenting excavated objects.
  • Undue commercialization: Allowing businesses to occupy prime public land and build their brands can further diminish the grounds around iconic monuments.
  • Demographic impacts: The involvement of big businesses in guided tours and illumination of monuments may impact local communities and their livelihoods.
  • Disregarding historical preservation: Concerns arise about businesses altering the historical character of monuments not protected by the ASI or located in states without Archaeology Directorates.

Govt intention behind the scheme

  • Businesses can help citizens understand why monuments matter: This can be done by earmarking CSR funds for grants for researching, writing, and publishing high-quality textbooks, and developing imaginative and effective ways of teaching history.
  • Skillful conservation: Industrial houses can support the meaningful conservation of heritage buildings by looking within through their CSR.
  • Collaborative efforts: The private sector’s resources and expertise may also help the ASI and State Archaeology Directorates to secure monuments from dams, mining projects, defacement, and looting.
  • Cultural contribution: By embracing principles of historical preservation, businesses and organizations can showcase India’s progress in safeguarding its pluralistic heritage and inspire citizen participation in this endeavour.

Way ahead

  • Transparent selection process: Implement a fair and transparent process for selecting entities or Monument Mitras to adopt heritage sites, ensuring accountability and avoiding favoritism.
  • Robust monitoring mechanism: Develop a strong monitoring system to ensure that the adopted sites are maintained and developed according to the agreed-upon standards and guidelines.
  • Preservation protocols: Strictly adhere to preservation guidelines set by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and other relevant authorities to protect the historical and cultural integrity of heritage sites.
  • Engagement with local communities: Involve local communities and stakeholders in decision-making processes, encouraging their participation, ownership, and contribution to the conservation efforts.
  • Sustainable tourism practices: Promote sustainable tourism practices that minimize the environmental impact, respect the local culture and heritage, and provide socio-economic benefits to the communities living around the heritage sites.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Santiniketan in tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage list

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Santiniketan

Mains level: Read the attached story

santiniketan

Central Idea

  • The article announces that Santiniketan, the home of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in West Bengal, has been recommended for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

About Santiniketan

Santiniketan is a renowned cultural and heritage place located in Birbhum District, West Bengal, India. It holds historical significance and is known for its association with Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Here are key points about Santiniketan:

  • It was the home of Rabindranath Tagore, where he lived and composed many of his literary works, including songs, poems, and novels.
  • The Santiniketan campus is adorned with splendid sculptures, frescoes, murals, and paintings created by renowned artists such as Rabindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar, Binodbehari Mukhopadhyay, and others.
  • The region of Birbhum District, where Santiniketan is located, is also famous for its fairs and festivals. Some notable ones are Poush Mela (December), Joydev Mela (January), Basanta Utsav (Holi) in March, and the famous mystic Baul Singers.
  • Special cultural events are held during Bengali New Year and Rabindra Janmotsav (birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore) in the Bengali month of Boisakh with great enthusiasm.
  • Santiniketan celebrates unique festivals like Briksharopan (festival of Planting Saplings) and Halakarshan (festival of Plowing the Fields) on the 22nd and 23rd days of Sravana (August), respectively.
  • Varshamangal, the festival of rains, is celebrated during August/September.
  • Poush Mela is an annual fair and festival held in Santiniketan, starting on the 7th day of the month of Poush. The fair officially lasts for three days, but vendors may stay until the end of the month. It is known for live performances of Bengali folk music, particularly by bauls (traditional wandering minstrels), and also features tribal dances like Santali.

Recommendation by ICOMOS

  • The recommendation for Santiniketan’s inclusion was made by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which is the advisory body to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
  • ICOMOS is a France-based international cultural body dedicated to the conservation and enhancement of global architectural and landscape heritage.

West Bengal’s Representation in World Heritage List

  • If selected, Santiniketan would be the second cultural symbol from West Bengal to be included in the UNESCO list.
  • In 2021, UNESCO included ‘Durga Puja in Kolkata’ in its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Back2Basics: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Description
UNESCO World Heritage Sites Landmarks or areas selected by UNESCO for their cultural, historical, scientific, or other significant value, legally protected by international treaties.
Importance World Heritage Sites represent collective and preservative interests of humanity, signifying remarkable accomplishments and intellectual history.
Selection Criteria Sites must be already-classified landmarks, unique and significant culturally or physically, such as ancient ruins, historical structures, cities, monuments, etc.
Conservation World Heritage Sites require practical conservation to protect them from risks like trespassing, uncontrolled access, or administrative negligence.
World Heritage Committee Selects and monitors World Heritage Sites, manages the World Heritage Fund, and provides financial assistance. Composed of 21 states parties elected for a four-year term.
Membership India is not a member of the World Heritage Committee.

Note: “States parties” refer to the countries that have ratified the World Heritage Convention and participate in the decision-making process.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Significance of Meerut: Birthplace of India’s First War of Independence

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Meerut, 1857 Uprising

Mains level: Not Much

meerut

Central Idea

  • The article highlights the historical significance of Meerut, a city in western Uttar Pradesh.
  • Alamgirpur, the easternmost settlement of the Harappa civilization, is located in Meerut and has archaeological importance.
  • However, Meerut gained fame for its role in India’s First War of Independence on May 10, 1857, also known as the Indian Mutiny or Revolt.

Meerut: Historical origins and name

  • Meerut has historical origins, possibly deriving its name from Mayarashtra, the capital of Mayasura, who was Ravana’s father-in-law.
  • The archaeological site of Vidura-ka-tila, located northeast of Meerut, is believed to be the remains of Hastinapur, the ancient capital of the Kauravas and Pandavas from the Mahabharata.
  • Meerut was ruled by the Scindias before being ceded to the British in 1803, which eventually paved the way for the British exit from India.

The 1857 Rebellion

  • The rebellion in Meerut was sparked by the introduction of the Enfield rifle and the use of cartridges rumored to be greased with a mixture of cow and pig fat.
  • Sepoys (Indian soldiers) who refused to use the cartridges were punished and stripped of their uniforms.
  • This incident led to a rebellion among the sepoys and a call for the uprising against British rule.

Outbreak of the Mutiny

  • On May 10, 1857, while the European residents of Meerut were attending church, the sound of musketry and columns of smoke signalled the revolt of the native troops.
  • The sepoys, having revolted, marched towards Delhi, considering it the power center and the capital of Mughal India.

Meerut’s Significance

  • Meerut played a crucial role in the Indian Mutiny, serving as the starting point for the rebellion that spread across the country.
  • The mutiny in Meerut inspired and influenced the subsequent events of the uprising.
  • D. Savarkar later referred to the Mutiny as the First War of Independence.

 

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Contribution Towards Women’s Rights

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Women's' rights and reforms

Mains level: Babasaheb Ambedkar's Contribution Towards Women's Rights

Ambedkar

Central Idea

  • Babasaheb Ambedkar’s contribution towards women’s rights is often overlooked, and he needs to be recognized as a champion of social justice, a visionary, and a philosopher. He advocated for women’s equal participation in both personal and professional spheres, was instrumental in drafting legislation to protect women’s rights, and played a key role in reducing working hours and improving working conditions.

Ambedkar’s Advocacy for Women’s Rights

  • Equal participation of women: Ambedkar advocated for equal participation of women in both personal and professional spheres. He was the first man to raise his voice against the unequal treatment of women in factories and other workplaces.
  • No of legislations: Ambedkar drafted legislation such as the Mines Maternity Benefit Act, which demanded equal pay and equal rights for coal mine workers, ensuring that the question of maternity leave for women was brought up and they were protected under labor laws.
  • Improving working conditions: He was instrumental in reducing working hours and improving working conditions.
  • Reproductive rights of women: Ambedkar was a strong believer in the reproductive rights of women and urged them to make their own choices about conception.

Ambedkar’s Contribution to Women’s Rights

  • Hindu Code Bill: Ambedkar’s most important contribution to the cause of women’s rights was the Hindu Code Bill, which revolutionized property and marriage practices and established laws of maintenance for women.
  • Four acts, resulting from the Bill, were passed:
  1. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which gave women the right to divorce and maintenance;
  2. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, which gave them the legal right to inherit property;
  3. The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, which allowed women to legally adopt a child; and
  4. The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, which allowed women to be the natural guardian of their children.
  • Pro-women Acts: The influence of these reforms led to other pro-women Acts such as the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976 and the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, which brightened the dark roads of women’s struggles.

Ambedkar’s Vision for Women’s Rights

  • Women’s right to education: Ambedkar believed that education was crucial for the country’s progress and regularly spoke up for women’s right to education, defying the Manusmriti and the Dharmashastra.
  • Targeted hierarchical social order: He targeted the hierarchical social order and condemned it for degrading women, and believed that endogamy was the root cause of caste consolidation.
  • Caste system and atrocities on women: His 1917 paper, titled ‘Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development’ outlines how atrocities on women are rooted in the caste system.
  • For instance: He denounced sati, child marriage, and the condemnation of widow remarriage, which were all meant to control women.
  • Vision of equality: Ambedkar’s vision of equality despite caste, gender, race, and ethnicity differences is a pioneering thought of social justice.

Conclusion

  • Ambedkar’s contribution towards women’s rights is often overlooked, and he needs to be recognized as a champion of social justice, a visionary, and a philosopher. His work to empower all sections of marginalized communities needs to be acknowledged, and his vision of equality despite caste, gender, race, and ethnicity differences is a pioneering thought of social justice. Women’s rights and their liberation are crucial for building a progressive society, and Ambedkar’s values and vision continue to guide feminist principles in India.

Mains Question

Q. Ambedkar’s contribution towards women’s rights is often overlooked. In this backdrop discuss his advocacy, contribution to Women’s Rights.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

NCERT’s Changes On Mughal History and Sparked Heated Debate

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: National educations policy, Importance of History

NCERT

Central Idea

  • The controversy over the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) reducing the content on Mughal history in the school curriculum has sparked a heated debate in the country. While some argue that this move is part of a larger agenda to erase the Mughal legacy, others believe that it is a necessary step towards reducing the burden on students and providing a more balanced approach to teaching Indian history.

NCERT’s changes

  • The NCERT removed overlapping material from grades 6 to 12 to reduce the burden on students.
  • Grade 12 has been designed around themes in Indian history. It is divided into three parts spanning over 2,000 years. One theme out of 12 focuses on Kings and Chronicles. It revolves around the significant policies that redefined the landscape and mindset of the people. Akbar’s policies feature in this theme in the rationalized syllabus as well.
  • This is over and above the extensive coverage they get in the middle school curricula, at the cost of the exclusion of the rest. Mughals have been overrepresented in Indian history books and were an obvious area for right-sizing.

What NCERT has said on omitting chapters?

  • Part of rationalisation process: According to NCERT director, Chapters on Mughals have not been dropped. There was a rationalisation process last year because due to COVID, there was pressure on students everywhere.
  • Reducing the burden without affecting the knowledge: The expert committees examined the books from standards 6-12. They recommended that if some sections or this chapter is dropped, it won’t affect the knowledge of the children and an unnecessary burden can be removed.
  • Transition towards National Education Policy (NEP): NCERT working as per NEP, 2020. This is a transition phase. NEP 2020 speaks of reducing the content load. NCF (National Curriculum Framework) for school education is being formed, it will be finalised soon. Textbooks will be printed in 2024 as per NEP.

Need for a balanced approach

  • Purpose of studying Indian history: The purpose of studying Indian history should be to understand who we are and how we got here, by understanding the demography, culture, and practices of the various components of India over the last two-and-a-half millennia.
  • Dive deep into all polities: This requires us to dive deep into all polities that have resided in the subcontinental region for significant periods.
  • Mughal history is just one part: Mughal history is just one part of just one period (medieval) of Indian history, and there is a lot more to our history that needs attention.

Need for a more comprehensive approach

  • Rich and long history: Indian history is too rich, long, and unwieldy for any curriculum to do justice.
  • Children needs to have broader understanding: In the age of Wikipedia, we need to expose our children to the broad themes and grand sweep of history, create an understanding of their origins, and equip them with the tools and curiosity to read and research further as they grow.
  • Step is in good direction: The current reorganization is a good step in that direction.

Conclusion

  • The real debate should be how to teach 2,500 years of Indian history to children in an engaging and informative manner. Those quibbling over the current rearrangement lack both a perspective on the scale of Indian history and an understanding of the complexities of teaching it. They would be better served by picking up a few history books themselves.

Mains Question

Q. The national education policy speaks of reducing the content load and ensure the understanding in this light discuss the significance of teaching history of India in more rational and comprehensive manner.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Mahad Satyagraha

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mahad Satyagraha

Mains level: Dalit movement

mahad

Central idea

  • B.R. Ambedkar’s life was full of milestones, and he was the first Dalit to study at Elphinstone College in Bombay.
  • He was also the chair of the drafting committee of the Constitution of India and became the first law minister of independent India.
  • Moreover, he contributed significantly to the movement for Dalit emancipation, awakening Dalit consciousness and leading the community’s bid for political power.

Context of the Mahad Satyagraha

  • The Mahad Satyagraha of 1927 was one of the earlier and most significant milestones in Ambedkar’s life.
  • The events leading up to it began in August 1923, when the Bombay Legislative Council passed a resolution to allow the Untouchable classes to use all public water sources.
  • Although the Bombay government adopted the resolution, the situation on the ground remained unchanged, with upper-caste Hindus still not allowing lower castes to access public water sources.

What happened at the Satyagraha?

  • Ramchandra Babaji More, a Mahad-based Dalit political leader, approached Ambedkar to preside over a conference of the Untouchables in Konkan, and Ambedkar agreed.
  • Around 2,500 delegates, workers, and leaders of Depressed Classes attended the conference, including boys of fifteen to old men of seventy.
  • On the first day of the conference, progressive non-Dalit leaders addressed the attendees and promised to help them in their struggle.
  • Ambedkar stressed creating “a wave of awakening” among the lower caste people of Konkan.
  • After the day’s proceedings, Ambedkar and the other organizers and attendees marched to the nearby Chavadar tank the next morning, where people from untouchable communities were not allowed to draw water from.
  • They implemented the resolution by picking up water with their cupped hands and drank it.

Key event: Burning of Manusmriti

  • Despite the court injunction prohibiting Babasaheb and other Dalits from going to the tank or taking water from it until further orders, the Satyagraha was held on a much larger scale on December 26, 1927.
  • Although most people wanted to go ahead, the Satyagraha was suspended on the advice of Ambedkar, and unlike the last time, no water was drawn from the Chavadar tank.
  • Ambedkar and his followers burnt the Manusmriti, a powerful rejection of the caste system, for the first time in symbolic action.

Significance of the Satyagraha

  • The Mahad Satyagraha is considered to be the “foundational event” of the Dalit movement.
  • The community collectively displayed its resolve to reject the caste system and assert their human rights for the first time.
  • It became the blueprint for organizing future movements against the caste system and its practices.
  • It marked an important point in Ambedkar’s political journey, catapulting him to the leadership of the downtrodden and oppressed classes in the country.

 

Try this PYQ:

Which of the following parties were established by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar?

  1. The Peasants and Workers Party of India
  2. All India Scheduled Castes Federation
  3. The Independent Labour Party

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 1, 2 and 3

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 2 and 3 only

 

Post your answers here.
3
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

India’s Philosophy Stand Out As A Beacon To The World

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India's philosophy and fundamentals

Mains level: India's philosophical heritage

Philosophy

Central Idea

  • The philosophical underpinnings of India’s civilization are unique and powerful, and they empower India to withstand waves of invasions, natural calamities, and societal challenges. India’s worldview and approach towards human life make India stand out as a beacon to the world. However, many Indians remain ignorant of their own philosophical heritage, and building on these foundational values can serve as building blocks for India’s soft power.

The Fundamentals of Indian Philosophy

  • Indian philosophy cannot be ascribed to any particular scripture.
  • The fundamentals of the perceived philosophy of India have come from many scriptures, and the Indian approach is to let a thousand flowers bloom.

The Five Tenets that Make India Stand Out

India’s philosophy has at least five fundamental tenets that make it stand out: 1. Spiritual democracy, 2. Unity in diversity, 3. Confluence with nature, 4, antyodaya, and 5. vasudhaiva kutumbakam. These tenets reflect the teachings of sages and philosophers such as Gautama Buddha, Adi Shankara, and Guru Nanak.

  1. Spiritual Democracy: India rejects any monopolistic approach to ways of worship, and it welcomes diversity in ways of worship. This approach reflects the fundamental unity of all that exists, and sages call it by various names.
  2. Unity in Diversity: India’s unity is inherent in its diversity, and this diversity is our innate unity that manifests in myriad ways. India not only accommodates but also celebrates the pervasive diversity.
  3. Confluence with Nature: India does not aspire to conquer nature, but instead, it has a tradition of sincere and deepest gratitude towards nature. Many Indian traditions and rituals reflect this approach, and sustainability is a part of our philosophy of human life.
  4. Antyodaya: India’s unique concept of antyodaya puts the last man first. The most deprived are the most deserving when it comes to the distribution of the fruits of development. Antyodaya encompasses both social and economic justice and takes us beyond the binary of capitalism and socialism.
  5. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: India has imagined the entire world as one family, where values like mutuality, sharing, and collectivism are given primacy. This approach nips in the bud all the uncalled-for apprehensions about ultra-nationalistic or jingoistic approaches.

India’s Philosophical Heritage Can Build on Its Soft Power

  • India can build on its unique philosophical heritage, which can serve as building blocks of India’s soft power.
  • India’s foundational values are needed now more than ever, as the global community faces conflicts and wars emanating from weird ideas of supremacy, oneupmanship, and monopolistic spirituality.

Conclusion

  • India’s philosophy and approach towards human life and worldly concerns are unique and powerful, and they make India stand out as a beacon to the world. India’s soft power can build on its unique philosophical heritage, and India can use this to assert itself even in the most complex and unpredictable future. The key challenge is to establish that India is capable of walking the talk and using its philosophy to deal with societal challenges. Indian philosophy empowers us to handle the contemporary challenges, and it has gained India huge goodwill among the global community.

Mains Question

Q. India’s philosophy and approach towards human life and worldly concerns are unique and powerful, and they make India stand out as a beacon to the world. Discuss

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s Vision Continues to Inspire Present Day Governance

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Check the knowledge box

Mains level: Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's legacy and present day governance

B.R. Ambedkar

Central idea

  • The 132nd birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar is an occasion to recognize his ideas and actions which continue to inspire and guide the present and future generations.

B.R. Ambedkar’s Legacy

  • R. Ambedkar was more than an individual, and his ideas and actions continue to illuminate the present and are a guiding light for the future.
  • He epitomised the spirit of justice and stressed establishing institutions for a just society.

Ambedkar’s contribution to nation-building

  • Multidimensional contribution: The centenary of Ambedkar’s work, The Problem of Rupee: Its Origin and its Solution, paved the foundation of the Reserve Bank of India in 1934. During that time, the country was trying to come out of the clutches of colonialism, and Ambedkar vigorously advocated for significant nation-building measures in a multidimensional manner.
  • Tirelessly work to safeguarding the interests of the people: From his work on the Simon Commission to representing the Depressed Classes in the Round Table conferences and chairing the Constitution’s drafting committee, Ambedkar tirelessly worked towards safeguarding the interests of the people.

Quick knowledge box from civilsdaily: Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s literary work

Literary Works

Description

Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development A paper presented by Ambedkar to an anthropology seminar at Columbia University, which discusses the caste system in India and its origins
The Problem of the Rupee: Its Origin and Its Solution A work that proposed a solution to the problem of currency fluctuations in India and paved the way for the establishment of the Reserve Bank of India
Annihilation of Caste A speech delivered by Ambedkar that strongly criticized the caste system in Hindu society and advocated for its annihilation
What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables A book that criticized the Indian National Congress and Mahatma Gandhi for their treatment of the untouchables in India
States and Minorities A book that analyzes the relationship between the majority and minority communities in India and argues for the protection of minority rights
The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables? A book that traces the history of the untouchables in India and argues for their social and economic upliftment
Buddha and His Dhamma A book that describes the life and teachings of the Buddha and how they can be applied to contemporary society
Who Were the Shudras? A book that examines the origins and history of the Shudra caste in Hindu society

Present government’s commitment to Ambedkar’s vision

  • Ambedkar’s vision in planning and implementation: The present-day government led by PM Modi has been committed to adhering to Ambedkar’s vision from planning to implementation.
  • People-centric policy measures: The government has taken steps towards the ease of life of citizens, such as the implementation of pro-poor and people-centric policy measures.
  • For instance: Schemes such as Stand-Up India, Start-Up India, PM Awas Scheme, BHIM, Mudra, and JAM trinity, which show that the government is leaving no stone unturned to fulfill the assigned targets and ensure saturation-level implementation.
  • Government’s efforts to preserve Ambedkar’s legacy: Government’s has adopted a sensitive approach towards preserving Ambedkar’s legacy. The National Research for Conservation of Cultural Property has preserved Ambedkar’s belongings for posterity, which will be showcased at the upcoming Dr B R Ambedkar Socio-Economic & Culture Centre. The Centre will serve as a sacred place highlighting glimpses of Ambedkar’s contribution to building the nation.

Ambedkar’s relevance to present-day India

  • Panch Pran mantra: There are parallels between Ambedkar’s ideas and the Prime Minister’s Panch Pran mantra for making a developed India.
  • Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav: Ambedkar believed that the constitutional ideals and social philosophy of liberty, equality, and fraternity have Indian cultural roots, and the government’s initiatives, such as Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, reflect this belief.

Conclusion

  • India’s commitment to Ambedkar’s vision would have resulted in greater public welfare if earlier governments had accepted him in this manner. On Ambedkar’s 132nd birth anniversary, it is essential to recognize his legacy and commitment to establishing institutions for a just society. The legacy of B.R. Ambedkar is a guiding light for India, and his ideas and actions continue to inspire and provide a moral force for justice.

Mains Question

Q. Discuss the relevance of B.R. Ambedkar’s ideas to present-day India. How has the present government committed to adhering to Ambedkar’s vision in planning and implementation of policies?

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Teja Singh Sutantar: Remembering the revolutionary leader

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Teja Singh Sutantar

Mains level: NA

teja

Punjab Chief Minister unveiled a statue of Teja Singh Sutantar, a former MP and revolutionary leader.

Teja Singh Sutantar

  • Teja Singh was born as Samund Singh in 1901 in Aluna village of Gurdaspur district.
  • After completing his schooling, he joined Khalsa College in Amritsar.
  • Following the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919, he joined the Akali Dal to participate in the movement to liberate gurdwaras from degenerate mahants.
  • However, in September 1921, he formed his own squad called the Sutantar Jatha, which successfully liberated a gurdwara in a village called Teja in Gurdaspur district from the mahants.
  • He later freed another gurdwara in Othian village from mahants.

Early life and revolutionary activities

  • In early 1923, Teja Singh went to Kabul as a Sikh missionary and there he came into contact with a few leaders of the Ghadar Party, who were preparing for their second attempt to overthrow the British government.
  • They persuaded Teja Singh to undergo military training, so he joined the Turkish military academy in 1925 under the pseudonym Azad Beg.
  • He later moved to Berlin and then to Canada and the United States, where he addressed congregations of Indians, mainly Punjabi Sikh immigrants.

Political Career

  • After visiting several countries, Teja Singh returned to India and became a prominent leader of the communist party (CPI).
  • He contributed revolutionary articles to the party journal, the Kirti, frequently writing about issues that plagued peasants.
  • In May 1937, he was elected unopposed to the Punjab Legislative Assembly as a nominee of the Indian National Congress while he was still in prison.
  • He continued to remain a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly till 1945.
  • He was also the secretary of the Communist Party (Punjab) from 1944 to 1947.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

The Legend of Guru Tegh Bahadur

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Guru Tegh Bahadur

Mains level: Not Much

guru

The Parkash Purab (birth anniversary) of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth guru of the Sikhs, was celebrated on April 11.

Who was Guru Tegh Bahadur?

  • Guru Tegh Bahadur was born on April 1, 1621, in Amritsar, Punjab.
  • He was the ninth Guru of the Sikhs and the son of Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru of the Sikhs, and Mata Nanaki.
  • His birth name was Tyag Mal, which means “master of renunciation.”
  • He spent his early years in Amritsar and was trained in religious studies, martial arts, and horse riding.
  • He was also trained in music and poetry, and he became a skilled poet and musician.

His teachings and beliefs

  • Guru Tegh Bahadur’s teachings were based on the importance of meditation, self-discipline, and living a moral and ethical life.
  • He believed in the idea of one God and the unity of all religions.
  • His term as Guru ran from 1665 to 1675. One hundred and fifteen of his hymns are in Guru Granth Sahib.
  • He emphasized the importance of serving others and treating everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of their religion or social status.
  • He also believed in the principle of selfless service and encouraged his followers to help those in need.

Significance in Indian History

  • Guru Tegh Bahadur played a crucial role in Sikh history by defending the religious freedom of Hindus against the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
  • Aurangzeb was known for his intolerance towards non-Muslims and had imposed a tax on Hindu pilgrims visiting the holy city of Varanasi.
  • When a group of Kashmiri Pandits approached Guru Tegh Bahadur for help, he decided to defend their right to practice their religion freely.
  • He refused to convert to Islam despite facing torture and persecution, and was eventually executed by Aurangzeb in 1675.
  • His martyrdom is remembered as a significant event in Indian history, and he is considered a hero and a martyr by Sikhs around the world.

His legacy

  • His legacy continues to inspire Sikhs and people of all religions and backgrounds.
  • His teachings and beliefs are an essential part of Sikhism today and are embodied in the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib.
  • He is remembered as a saint, scholar, and warrior who sacrificed his life to defend the rights of others.
  • Many Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) around the world are dedicated to him, including the Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Delhi, where he was martyred.
  • His martyrdom is commemorated each year on the occasion of Guru Tegh Bahadur’s Martyrdom Day, which is observed on December 19.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following Bhakti Saints:

  1. Dadu Dayal
  2. Guru Nanak
  3. Tyagaraja

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

(a) 1 and 3

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3

(d) 1 and 2

 

 

Post your answers here.
0
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 


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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Formation story of Rajasthan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: States reorganization in India

Mains level: Post-independence consolidation

rajasthan

Rajasthan Day is celebrated on March 30, marking the day the state was created by unifying 22 princely states and chiefships. Rajasthan’s story of foundation is intriguing.

Formation of Rajasthan

  • At the time of Independence, Rajasthan was almost wholly contained in the Rajputana Agency, a political office of the British Indian Empire.
  • The Rajputana Agency consisted of 22 princely states and estates.
  • Less than 22 months after Independence, all 22 had assimilated to form what would become India’s largest state.
  • However, modifications were made to the boundaries after the State Reorganisation Act (1956), giving Rajasthan its present shape.

Challenges of Princely States

(1) Rajputana Agency

  • The Rajputana Agency spanned roughly 330,330 sq. km, with an agent under the Governor-General in charge, residing at Mount Abu.
  • All the princely states and estates in the agency (22 in total) were ruled by Hindu rulers with the exception of Tonk (which had a Muslim ruler).

(2) The Matsya Union

  • The States Ministry believed that four princely states – Alwar, Bharatpur, Dholpur, and Karauli – at the eastern edge of the erstwhile Rajputana Agency had “natural, racial and economic affinities” with each other.
  • Thus, the Matsya Union was inaugurated on March 18, 1948.

(3) Rajasthan Union in South-East Rajputana

  • Ten princely states, with Udaipur (also known as Mewar) being the largest, wanted to form a union.
  • An idea to merge these into Madhya Bharat was also floated but did not go through.
  • Another idea to merge these states into the much larger Udaipur was proposed by the Maharana of Udaipur, Bhupal Singh Bahadur.
  • However, this was not agreeable to the other princely states. Hence, on March 25, 1948, the nine other states came together to form the Rajasthan Union.
  • Within three days after its formation, Udaipur decided to join this union.

(4) Greater Rajasthan

  • The four largest princely states – Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, and Jaisalmer – still remained independent.
  • The alternative, backed by Patel, was to merge all four states into the newly formed Rajasthan Union.
  • Greater Rajasthan was officially inaugurated by Patel on March 30, 1949 – the date still celebrated as Rajasthan Day.

Modifications by the State Reorganisation Commission

  • The State Reorganisation Commission (SRC) was formed in 1953 to recommend new state boundaries to the government, in response to demands for states based on linguistic lines.
  • The SRC’s recommendations, with some modifications, were implemented in the State Reorganisation Act of November 1, 1956.
  • For Rajasthan, this brought some minor changes, including the integration of Ajmer as a district within Rajasthan, given its linguistic, cultural, and geographical links to the state.
  • Abu Road Taluk, a taluk of the Sirohi district of southern Rajasthan, was also integrated into Rajasthan after being sliced and included in the Bombay State.
  • The enclave of Sunel in Rajasthan’s southeastern edge was received from Madhya Pradesh in exchange for the enclave of Sironj, due to administrative reasons.

Conclusion

  • Overall, the state of Rajasthan was created through a complex process of merger and integration of various princely states and chiefships.
  • Today, Rajasthan is the largest state in India in terms of land area, covering 342,239 square kilometers, and is known for its rich cultural heritage, majestic forts and palaces, vibrant festivals, and diverse cuisine that attract visitors from all over the world.

 


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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Vaikom: A Symbol of Social Justice and Eradication of Caste Barriers

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vaikom Satyagraha

Mains level: Vaikom Movement, Periyar's significant role and legacy of the movement

Vaikom

Central Idea

  • Vaikom is a town in Kerala, India, that became a symbol of social justice due to the temple entry movement launched in 1924, aiming to end the prohibition imposed on backward communities in using the roads around the Vaikom Mahadeva temple. The Kerala government has organized various cultural events to commemorate the movement and its significance in the state’s history. Tamil Nadu also observes the occasion, as announced by Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, recognizing the role of Tamil leaders like Periyar E.V. Ramasamy in the movement’s success.

Vaikom

All you need to know about Vaikom Satyagraha

  1. Objective:
  • The primary goal was to end the prohibition on backward communities from using the roads surrounding the Vaikom Mahadeva temple, which symbolized the caste-based discrimination prevalent in society.
  • The movement sought to create a more inclusive society where people from all castes could access public spaces and religious sites without discrimination.
  1. Leaders:
  • Kerala:K. Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon, and George Joseph were prominent leaders from Kerala who initiated and guided the movement.
  • Tamilnadu: Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, then president of the Tamil Nadu Congress, played a crucial role in sustaining the movement and leading it to success.
  • Mahatma Gandhi: Mahatma Gandhi advised the movement leaders and helped in negotiating between the government, protesters, and orthodox Hindus.
  1. Significance:
  • Social equality and justice: The Vaikom Satyagraha was a groundbreaking non-violent protest that fought for social equality and justice, challenging the caste system in India.
  • Temple entry: The movement’s success paved the way for the temple entry proclamation of Kerala in 1936, which granted lower caste individuals the right to enter temples.
  • Fight against caste barriers: The Vaikom Satyagraha remains a symbol of the fight against caste barriers in India and the struggle for social justice.
  1. Challenges and Hurdles:
  • The movement faced repressive action from the government and the administration, with many protesters and leaders arrested during the course of the protest.
  • Orthodox Hindu traditionalists organized counter rallies marked by violence, aiming to suppress the movement and maintain the status quo.
  1. Outcome and Legacy:
  • The movement spanned 603 days, witnessing many significant events.
  • The Travancore princely state government eventually granted access to three of the four streets around the Vaikom temple, signaling the end of the protest.
  • The Vaikom Satyagraha continues to inspire the fight for equality and justice in India, serving as a reminder of the importance of challenging caste-based discrimination.

Vaikom

Periyar’s Role and the Movement’s Progress

  • Periyar E.V. Ramasamy played a significant role in leading the protest, earning him the title Vaikom Veerar (Hero of Vaikom).
  • The movement was marked by day-to-day protests, arrests, inquiries, jail terms, and agitations.
  • People from various communities participated in the movement, including the Akalis from Punjab, who traveled to Vaikom to supply food to the protesters.

Vaikom

Facts for prelims: Vaikom Satyagraha

Aspect Details
Time Period March 30, 1924 – November 23, 1925
Objective End caste-based discrimination; Allow backward communities access to roads around Vaikom Mahadeva temple
Key Leaders T.K. Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon, George Joseph, Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, Mahatma Gandhi
Significance Paved the way for temple entry proclamation of Kerala in 1936; Symbol of fight against caste barriers
Challenges and Hurdles Repressive action from government and administration; Opposition from orthodox Hindu traditionalists
Outcome and Legacy Access granted to three of the four streets around the Vaikom temple; Inspired continued fight for equality
Commemoration Cultural events organized by the Kerala government; Observations in Tamil Nadu to recognize Tamil leaders’ role

 Conclusion

  • Vaikom is not just a name of a town but a symbol of social justice and the eradication of caste barriers. It is a significant part of the history of the social justice movement in India and continues to inspire the fight for equality and justice.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Dalai Lama’s Succession and Chinese Intervention

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dalai Lama

Mains level: Not Much

dalai lama

The Dalai Lama has named a US-born Mongolian boy as the tenth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, the head of the Janang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and the Buddhist spiritual head of Mongolia.

Do you know?

“Rinpoche” is a title used in Tibetan Buddhism, which is given to a highly respected teacher or lama. It literally means “precious one” and is used to indicate respect and reverence for the person. The title is often given to senior lamas or to those who are considered to be reincarnations of past masters.

Who is the Dalai Lama?

  • The Dalai Lama (a title) is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • He is believed to be the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama and is regarded as an important figure not only in Tibet but also around the world.
  • The Dalai Lama is traditionally both the political and spiritual leader of Tibet, but after China’s occupation of Tibet in 1950, he went into exile in India and since then has been primarily a spiritual leader.
  • The current and 14th Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso, who was born in Tibet in 1935 and has been in exile in India since 1959.

Brief Outline of Tibetan Buddhism

  • Tibetan Buddhism became the predominant religion in Tibet by the 9th century AD, evolving from the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions of Buddhism and incorporating many tantric and shamanic practices.
  • It has four major schools: Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug, with the Janang school being one of the smaller schools that grew as an offshoot of the Sakya School.
  • Since 1640, the Gelug School has been the predominant school of Tibetan Buddhism, and the Dalai Lama belongs to this school.

Hierarchy and Reincarnation in the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition

  • The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth is one of Buddhism’s key beliefs.
  • Tibet’s hierarchical system seemingly emerged in the 13th century, and it was around this time that the first instances of “formally recognizing the reincarnations of lamas” can be found.
  • The Gelug School developed a strong hierarchy and instituted the tradition of succession through reincarnation, with the fifth Grand Lama of the school being conferred the title of Dalai Lama.
  • Several procedures/tests are followed to recognize Tulkus (recognized reincarnations).

Key issue: Chinese interference

  • The announcement of the boy’s reincarnation has brought attention back to the larger question of the 14th Dalai Lama’s own reincarnation.
  • The issue of his reincarnation has deep ramifications on international politics, with China seeking to control the succession and take control over Tibet in the cultural sphere.

What lies ahead?

  • The question of the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation is set to continue for the foreseeable future.
  • The Dalai Lama himself has not provided a definitive answer regarding what will happen, although he has suggested that there may be no Dalai Lama after him.
  • The question of his reincarnation continues to hold great political implications due to his symbolic authority and importance to millions of Tibetans across the world.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

The Contested Legacy of Tipu Sultan and the Politicization of Historical Scholarship

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Tipu Sultan

Mains level: Historical significance of Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan

Central Idea

  • Tipu Sultan, a historical figure who continues to fascinate people even today, had a powerful hold on the imaginations of the British during his reign. His afterlife in India has been more mixed, with conflicting views and interpretations from different communities and stakeholders. However, in the currently overheated State of Karnataka, the province of the historian has severely shrunk, yielding place to politicians and religious heads who now adjudicate historical truth.

Who was Tipu Sultan?

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

Tipu Sultan’s portrayal in England

  • During his reign, Tipu Sultan was feared and envied by the British, who portrayed him as a formidable foe and used him as a metaphor in multiple art objects, skits, and plays.
  • The pictorial versions of his defeat and death satisfied a very British need, asserting a badly dented British valour following decades of Mysore opposition to easy conquest.

Tipu Sultan’s afterlife in India

  • Contested legacy: In 19th century Mysore, Tipu was admired for his firm stand against the British and for his efforts to prohibit the use of alcohol and drugs. However, in Karnataka today, the only story that can be told about Tipu is of his villainy and his opposition to Kannada and Hindus (and some Christians) alike.
  • Politicization and suppression of viewpoints: The politicization of historical scholarship has resulted in conflicting interpretations and the suppression of certain viewpoints.

Admiration for Tipu Sultan

  • Resistance against British colonialism: Tipu Sultan was known for his resistance against British colonialism and fought against the British East India Company in four Anglo-Mysore wars. He refused to accept British supremacy and formed alliances with the French to fight against them. His bravery and military tactics are admired by many.
  • Agricultural and economic reforms: Tipu implemented several agricultural and economic reforms in his kingdom, including the introduction of new crops, irrigation systems, and the construction of roads and canals. These reforms helped to improve the agricultural productivity and the overall economic condition of his kingdom.
  • Support for the arts and culture: He was a patron of the arts and culture and supported the development of literature, music, and architecture. He was known for his love for poetry and encouraged the development of the Urdu language.
  • Use of new military tactics: Tipu Sultan is credited with pioneering new military tactics, including the use of rockets and iron-cased warships. His use of rockets in particular gave him an advantage over the British, who were initially unprepared for his tactics.
  • Promotion of religious tolerance: Tipu Sultan abolished the jizya tax on non-Muslims and promoted interfaith dialogue and understanding. He had a diverse court that included Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, and he was known for his tolerance towards other religions.

Criticism of Tipu Sultan

  • Religious policies: Tipu Sultan’s religious policies have been a subject of criticism, with some accusing him of being intolerant towards non-Muslims. He was known for his forced conversions of Hindus and Christians to Islam and the destruction of temples and churches. The destruction of the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangapatna, which is said to be carried out on Tipu Sultan’s orders.
  • Treatment of prisoners of war: Tipu Sultan has been criticized for his treatment of prisoners of war, especially during the Third Anglo-Mysore war when he ordered the execution of several British prisoners.
  • Oppression of certain communities: Tipu Sultan’s oppression of certain communities, including the Kodava people of Coorg and the Nairs of Kerala, has been a subject of criticism. He imposed heavy taxes on these communities and forced them to convert to Islam.
  • Suppression of dissent: Tipu Sultan is known to have punished those who spoke out against his rule, including writers and poets. One example of this is the punishment of the poet Diwan Kurnool Srinivas, who was imprisoned and tortured for writing a satirical poem about Tipu Sultan’s rule.

Facts for Prelims

  • Tipu Sultan had alliances with the French and Ottoman empires, and he had diplomatic relations with the United States.
  • He was also a supporter of the French Revolution and sent a delegation to Paris to learn about the principles of the revolution.
  • Tipu Sultan’s kingdom of Mysore was one of the few Indian states to have a coinage system independent of the Mughal Empire.
  • He was interested in science and technology, and he established a library and a centre for scientific research in his palace.
  • He is credited with introducing new crops and plants to his kingdom, such as the silk worm and the sandalwood tree.
  • Tipu Sultan was a polyglot and could speak Kannada, Persian, Arabic, and Urdu fluently.
  • Tipu Sultan was known for his innovative military tactics, such as the use of rockets and iron-cased warships.

Conclusion

  • The contested legacy of Tipu Sultan highlights the importance of protecting historical scholarship from politicization and using it to promote understanding and dialogue instead of being weaponized for narrow political gains. The conflicting views and interpretations of Tipu Sultan’s legacy demonstrate the need for a nuanced and multi-perspective approach to history.

 


 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Places in news: Sharda Peeth

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sharda Peeth

Mains level: Not Much

sharda

Home Minister said that the government will move forward to open Sharda Peeth on the lines of the Kartarpur corridor.

Why in news?

  • Activists request that the Sharda Peeth corridor should be made operational on the lines of Nankana Sahib Gurudwaras and the Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan.

Sharda Peeth

  • Sharda Peeth is a Hindu temple located in the Neelam Valley in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
  • It is considered one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas, or major shrines, of the Hindu goddess Shakti.
  • The temple is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus, particularly those from the Kashmir Valley.

History and Significance

  • The temple is believed to have been established in the 6th century CE by Adi Shankaracharya, a famous Hindu philosopher and saint.
  • Sharda Peeth became an important center of learning and scholarship during the medieval period, attracting scholars from all over India and even from as far as Central Asia.
  • The temple was destroyed several times by invading armies and underwent major renovations and restorations under various rulers over the centuries.
  • The temple’s importance declined during the colonial period and it fell into disrepair in the years following India’s partition in 1947.

Current rundown state and Controversy

  • Sharda Peeth is now located in a remote and inaccessible part of Pakistan-administered Kashmir and has become a subject of political and religious controversy.
  • The Indian government has long sought to open a pilgrimage corridor to Sharda Peeth for Hindu devotees, but this has been complicated by the ongoing conflict and tension between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
  • In recent years, there have been calls for the temple to be handed over to India or for it to be converted into a museum that can be visited by people from both sides of the border.

Significance in Kashmiri Identity

  • Sharda Peeth is an important part of Kashmiri Hindu identity and culture, and its restoration and revival have been a longstanding demand of the community.
  • Some Kashmiri Pandits view the temple as a symbol of their lost homeland and argue that its restoration would be a step towards reclaiming their cultural and religious heritage.
  • Others, however, caution against politicizing the temple and argue that it should be seen as a shared heritage of all Kashmiris, regardless of their religious or political affiliations.

 


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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

The Decolonization Drive: Monuments of National Importance Reflects Bharat’s history

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Monuments of National Importance

Mains level: Monuments of National Importance, Shedding the colonial legacy, Promoting India's rich heritage rationally

Central Idea

  • The decolonization drive started by the present government in India to change the British mindset of those responsible for writing history books, which led to the neglect of important monuments and archaeological sites. The Economic Advisory Council’s report on Monuments of National Importance, which he sees as a significant step in the right direction for the preservation and designation of monuments that reflect Bharat’s history. There are some anomalies in the list of monuments of national importance and suggests changes in the way India looks at the preservation of monuments.

What are the recommendations given by the report?

  • Rationalise and evolve criteria for India’s list of monuments: The report underlined the urgent need to rationalise India’s list of monuments of national importance and recommended that the ASI should evolve substantive criteria and a detailed procedure for declaring monuments to be of national importance.
  • Book of detailed information: ASI should publish a book of notifications with detailed information about each MNI’s provenance, hand over protection and upkeep of monuments of local importance to respective states and denotify to the extent possible, all standalone antiquities like cannons and statues.
  • Funds: Allocation of funds for the preservation of MNI should be increased and ASI should retain the proceeds generated from revenue streams like tickets, events, fees and other sources.

Neglect of Monuments and Archaeological Sites in Post-Independence India

  • Inadequate efforts: After India’s independence, little effort was made to correct the British mindset of those responsible for writing history books, which resulted in the neglect of monuments and archaeological sites.
  • British view of India: History books continued to teach the history of India’s defeats and its enemies’ victories, which perpetuated the British view of India.

The Decolonization Drive under the present Government

  • National Heroes: The present government led by PM Modi started the decolonisation drive to bring out the sagas of King Suheldev, Rani Durgavati, and Lachit Barphukan, among others.
  • For example: The government highlighted the story of the founder-king of Delhi, Anangpal Tomar, and declared the neglected Anang Tal as a monument of national importance.
  • Names, sites, insignia of national importance: The government also held national and international events at the Sindhu-Saraswati site of Dholavira and unveiled a new Shivaji-era inspired naval insignia.

Significance of this Report

  • The Economic Advisory Council’s report on Monuments of National Importance is a significant step in the right direction.
  • The report will bring a whiff of fresh thinking in the direction of preserving and designating monuments that reflect Bharat’s history.
  • All the recommendations made by the report can be implemented without amending the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act and need only executive orders.

Anomalies in the List of Monuments of National Importance

  • There are some anomalies in the list of monuments of national importance.
  • There is not a single monument connected with the struggles of Dalits and B R Ambedkar’s life that has been declared a national monument.
  • Some monuments, like Tota-Maina ki Qabar and Dadi Poti ka Gumbad, have no history, and nobody knows whether they should be declared as Monuments of National Importance.
  • Therefore, all agencies working on monuments be unshackled from the British slave mindset and given into the hands of those who know their subject.

Conclusion

  • There is hope that the Bibek Debroy-Sanjeev Sanyal report will bring a whiff of fresh thinking in the direction of preserving and designating monuments that reflect Bharat’s history. There is the need for an Archaeological Foundation to preserve the civilizational and revolutionary monuments of India.

Mains Question

Q. Discuss the recommendations given by the Economic Advisory Council’s report on Monuments of National Importance and its significance in preserving and designating monuments that reflect Bharat’s history.


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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Who were Alluri Sitharama Raju and Komaram Bheem?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Alluri Sitharama Raju and Komaram Bheem

Mains level: Not Much

raju

A Telugu movie with its story and characters rooted in the lives of Indian freedom fighters Alluri Sitharama Raju and Komaram Bheem is garnering attention on the global stage.

Who was Alluri Sitharama Raju?

  • Raju is believed to have been born in Andhra Pradesh in 1897 or 1898.
  • He is said to have become a sanyasi at the age of 18 and gained a mystical aura among the hill and tribal peoples with his austerity, knowledge of astrology and medicine, and his ability to tame wild animals.
  • At a very young age, Raju channelled the discontent of the hill people in Ganjam, Visakhapatnam, and Godavari into an effective guerrilla resistance against the British.

Advent into revolutionary activities

  • Colonial rule threatened the tribals’ traditional podu (shifting) cultivation, as the government sought to secure forest lands.
  • The Forest Act of 1882 banned the collection of minor forest produce such as roots and leaves, and tribal people were forced into labour by the colonial government.
  • While the tribals were subjected to exploitation by muttadars, village headmen commissioned by the colonial government to extract rent, the new laws and systems threatened their way of life itself.
  • Strong anti-government sentiment, shared by the muttadars who were aggrieved by the curtailment of their powers by the British, exploded into armed resistance in August 1922.

Contribution to freedom struggle

  • The Rampa or Manyam Rebellion continued in the form of a guerrilla war until May 1924, when Raju, the charismatic ‘Manyam Veerudu’ or Hero of Jungle, was finally captured and executed.
  • The Rampa Rebellion coincided with Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • Raju often talked of the greatness of Mahatma Gandhi, said he was inspired by the Non-Cooperation Movement, and persuaded people to wear khadi and give up drinking.
  • But at the same time, he asserted that India could be liberated only by the use of force, not non-violence.

Who was Alluri Sitharama Raju?

  • Raju is believed to have been born in Andhra Pradesh in 1897 or 1898.
  • He is said to have become a sanyasi at the age of 18 and gained a mystical aura among the hill and tribal peoples with his austerity, knowledge of astrology and medicine, and his ability to tame wild animals.
  • At a very young age, Raju channelled the discontent of the hill people in Ganjam, Visakhapatnam, and Godavari into an effective guerrilla resistance against the British.

Advent into revolutionary activities

  • Colonial rule threatened the tribals’ traditional podu (shifting) cultivation, as the government sought to secure forest lands.
  • The Forest Act of 1882 banned the collection of minor forest produce such as roots and leaves, and tribal people were forced into labour by the colonial government.
  • While the tribals were subjected to exploitation by muttadars, village headmen commissioned by the colonial government to extract rent, the new laws and systems threatened their way of life itself.
  • Strong anti-government sentiment, shared by the muttadars who were aggrieved by the curtailment of their powers by the British, exploded into armed resistance in August 1922.

Contribution to freedom struggle

  • The Rampa or Manyam Rebellion continued in the form of a guerrilla war until May 1924, when Raju, the charismatic ‘Manyam Veerudu’ or Hero of Jungle, was finally captured and executed.
  • The Rampa Rebellion coincided with Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • Raju often talked of the greatness of Mahatma Gandhi, said he was inspired by the Non-Cooperation Movement, and persuaded people to wear khadi and give up drinking.
  • But at the same time, he asserted that India could be liberated only by the use of force, not non-violence.

And who was Komaram Bheem?

  • Komram Bheem was born in the Gond tribal community at Sankepally village in Komarambheem District, which was renamed after him in 2016.
  • Bheem’s family’s land was occupied by a jagirdar who was an informer of the Nizam, which led to him killing the jagirdar in a fit of rage.
  • To avoid authorities, he went to Assam and worked as a labourer in coffee and tea plantations for five years.
  • Despite being illiterate, Bheem learned to read and write and became aware of movements like Birsa Munda’s.

Resistance against the Nizam government

  • The Nizam government collected taxes in the name of “Bambram” and “Dupapetti” from people grazing cattle and collecting firewood for cooking.
  • Bheem spread the message of “Jal, Jangal, Zameen” among tribal people in opposition to this tax collection.
  • He trained tribal people to fight with weapons, and villages in Adilabad were ready with the help of a guerrilla army composed of Gond and Koya communities’ men.

Death and legacy

  • Despite their efforts, Nizam’s army overwhelmed the tribal resistance.
  • Bheem died at their hands in the Jodeghat forest.
  • Bheem’s message of “Jal, Jangal, Zameen” has become a clarion call for indigenous people’s rights to natural resources, used in many parts of India to date.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Women’s Role In Constitution Building

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Constituent assembly

Mains level: Women participation in constituent assembly

Women

Central idea

  • The process of drafting our Constitution during Partition and after a long period of colonization was a magnificent and dynamic process. Despite being part of the Assembly, voices and contributions of women have been neglected and overshadowed. The riveting work by Achyut Chetan,” The Founding Mothers of the Republic” published by Cambridge University Press in 2022 serves as a means of rectifying this historical omission and giving due credit to the women who played a crucial role in shaping India’s democracy.

Women

Women In constitutional Assembly

  • When the Constitution was completed, there were 11 women members of the Constituent Assembly who signed onto it.
  • These drafters were G Durgabai, Ammu Swaminathan, Amrit Kaur, Dakshayani Velayudhan, Hansa Mehta, Renuka Ray, Sucheta Kripalani, Purnima Banerjee, Begum Qudsiya Aizaz Rasul, Kamala Chaudhri and Annie Mascarene.
  • The Constituent Assembly first met on December 11, 1946 and had 169 sessions before all its members signed the document on January 24, 1950

How do we know what happened in the Constituent Assembly?

  • Constituent Assembly Debates (CAD) is the only source: A rich but by no means the only source is the 12 volumes of the Constituent Assembly Debates (CAD), consisting of speeches made by members and the amendments to the draft articles.
  • CAD misses no. of reports and notes pf various committes: However, what the CAD does not have are the reports and notes of the various committees of the CA.
  • For instance: Much groundbreaking work was done in the Advisory Committee (chaired by Vallabhbhai Patel), which in turn had two sub-committees the Fundamental Rights Sub Committee and the Minorities Sub-Committee.

Women

Role of Women in the constituent assembly

  • Hansa Mehta and Amrit kaur: Hansa Mehta and Amrit Kaur were on the Advisory Committee, with both being members of the Fundamental Rights Sub Committee and Kaur serving also on the Minorities Sub-Committee.
  • G Durgabai: G Durgabai occupied effective positions on two important committees on procedural affairs The Steering Committee and the Rules Committee.
  • Women were highly active: Women members were present and highly active on almost all significant committees and subcommittees.
  • Women members often faced disrespect and discrimination: For instance, Renuka Ray opposed the clause on the Right to Property which put the compensation given within the purview of courts. During the debates on the floor of the Assembly too she was constantly interrupted and heckled even by the men of the eminence and tried to deride their amendments
  • Women members made their opinions known and stood firm: In the settings of the committees they wrote notes of dissent, Amrit Kaur and Hansa Mehta wrote notes of dissent against decisions that relegated the uniform civil code to the non-justiciable rights, allowed the state to impose conscription for compulsory military service, at each stage when the committees made their official recommendations to the higher bodies of the Assembly

Women

For Instance: Views of Dakshayani Velayudhan on reservation

  • Dakshayani Velayudhan, the only woman member from the Scheduled Castes communities, argued against reservations.
  • She refused by saying “to believe that 70 million Harijans are to be considered as a minority and argued that reservations would not be in the best interests of them.
  • She also argued that “the working of the Constitution will depend upon how the people will conduct themselves in the future, not on the actual execution of the law. When this Constitution is put into practice, what we want is not to punish the people for acting against the law, but for the state to take on the task of educating citizens for a transformation.”

The present status of Women representation in politics worldwide

  • Representative governments increased but women count remains low: According to UN Women, as of September 2022, there were 30 women serving as elected heads of state and/or of government in 28 countries (out of a total of 193 UN member states).
  • Dichotomy in active participation: There is the dichotomy between the rapid increase of women’s participation as voters in elections and other political activities, and the slow rise of female representation in Parliament.
  • Global average women representation: As of May 2022, the global average of female representation in national parliaments was 26.2 percent.
  • Above average representation: The Americas, Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa have women’s representation above the global average;
  • Below average representation: Asia, the Pacific region, and the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region, are below average.
  • Varied representation within Asian countries:
  • The South Asian countries faring worse than the others.
  • IPU data of May 2022 showed that women’s representation in Nepal, for example, was 34 percent, in Bangladesh 21 percent, in Pakistan 20 percent, in Bhutan 17 percent and in Sri Lanka 5 percent.
  • For India, women’s representation in the Lok Sabha (the Lower House) has remained slightly below 15 percent.
  • The study does not include Afghanistan, but World Bank data of 2021 stated that female representation in the country’s last parliament was 27 percent.

Women

Conclusion

  • As we approach 75 years of our Constitution, it’s time for scholars, teachers, students, lawyers, judges and all others who engage with our constitution-making efforts to look to sources that tell a more complete story of our drafters. The quiet women and the more visible men should both be recalled, for their roles and their contributions. That would be an accurate telling of how our founding document came to be.

Mains Question

Q. The role of women in constitution making has often been neglected. In light of this illustrate the participation of women during India’s constitution making process.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Tipu Sultan’s Contested Legacy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Tipu Sultan

Mains level: His legacy

tipu

Central idea: The article examines the controversial nature of Tipu Sultan’s legacy and the differing opinions about his reign and his place in Indian history. It discusses the contrasting views of Tipu Sultan as a hero and patriot who fought against British colonialism, or as a tyrant who persecuted Hindus and Christians.

Rise of Tipu Sultan

  • Tipu Sultan was born on November 10, 1750, in Devanahalli, present-day Bangalore.
  • His father was Hyder Ali, who rose through the ranks of the army of the Wodeyars, the Hindu rulers of Mysore.

Rise to power

  • Hyder Ali seized power from the Wodeyars in 1761 and ruled for 20 years, a period in which the kingdom of Mysore had slowly expanded by capturing disputed areas at its borders.
  • During this time, Tipu was educated in both matters of statecraft and warcraft, participating in his first battle at the age of only 15.
  • When Hyder Ali died in 1782, Tipu’s primary motivation was to consolidate the territory he had inherited from his father.
  • Specifically, the rebellious provinces of Malabar, Kodagu, and Bednur, were crucial to Mysore’s strategic and economic interests.
  • His rule in these areas is what is often cited as proof of his bigotry and authoritarianism.

Contribution to freedom struggle

  • In the course of India’s freedom struggle, Tipu Sultan became a symbol of resistance against British rule.
  • His death while defending his fortress of Srirangaptna against British armies in 1799 was valorised as the ultimate sacrifice for the motherland.

Reforms carried out by Tipu

Administrative reforms

  • Tipu Sultan also pioneered administrative and economic reforms.
  • He introduced new coins, started a new land revenue system in Mysore, as well as introduced sericulture or silkworm cultivation, which continues to employ many Kannadigas to date.
  • Furthermore, some claim that upon hearing of the plight of lower caste women who were not allowed to wear blouses, Tipu personally supplied them with cloth.

Modernization of weaponry: Advent of Rockets

tipu

  • Tipu is credited for the introduction of iron-cased rockets in warfare.
  • While rocket-like weapons had previously been used in War, Tipu’s army used what can be termed as the first modern war rockets in the Anglo-Mysore Wars.
  • These rockets were used to devastating effects against much larger British armies, driving them to panic and disarray.
  • The British used Tipu’s models for their own rockets, which would go on to play an important role in the Napoleonic Wars.

Scientific temper

tipu

  • Tipu’s fascination with European culture was a result of what he saw while fighting Europeans.
  • Tipu wanted Mysore to be a modern rival of the European powers and made investments in technology accordingly.

Why is Tipu branded as a tyrant?

  • Warfare in Tipu’s time was brutal and those who rebelled were dealt with an iron fist. It was common practice to set strong examples to forestall future opposition.
  • The punishments Tipu applied to rebels or conspirators included forced conversion and the transfer of people from their home territories to Mysore.
  • The forced removals occurred from both Kodagu and Malabar, the former as a response to continued resistance against Mysore rule– as a result of their resistance and perceived treachery in the Anglo-Mysore Wars.
  • The right’s narrative of Tipu’s bigotry emphasizes Tipu’s militarism as well as his perceived attacks on “Hindu” rulers and subjects.

Historian’s justification of Tipu’s actions

  • Tipu’s actions are questionable by today’s standards, they were commonplace in the 18th century among rulers of all faiths.
  • He was a tyrant, but his motivations were not necessarily religious zealotry.
  • Rather, he was a pragmatist who ruled within the accepted conventions of kingship and warfare at the time.
  • He undoubtedly ordered forced conversions in areas he annexed, Tipu also patronized various temples and Hindu shrines, including the Sri Ranganatha temple at Srirangapatna and the Math in Sringeri.
  • Both these actions were to solidify his position as a ruler — the former to crush dissidents and the latter to gain legitimacy among his largely Hindu subjects.

Tipu’s legacy: looking at the past from the prism of the present

  • Today, there has been an increased spotlight on his autocratic tendencies and brutal repression in annexed territories, with an increased emphasis on his religion.
  • Both portrayals fall short, missing the complexity of Tipu’s character and material circumstances.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Anti-encroachment drive in historic city of Mehrauli

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mehrauli

Mains level: History of Delhi

mehrauli

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) carried out an anti-encroachment drive in the nearby villages of Mehrauli and Ladha Sarai leaving hundreds of families in uncertainty about their future.

History of Delhi

  • Purani Dilli, commonly referred to as Old Delhi, is a misnomer as the city’s history dates back to before the establishment of Shahjahanabad.
  • The oldest evidence of habitation in Delhi, dating back to the Iron Age (around 1100-800 BC), is the painted grey ware fragments found in Purana Quila.
  • Historians recognize seven cities of Delhi, from the 11th century onwards, namely Lalkot/Quila Rai Pithora/Mehrauli, Siri, Tughlaqabad, Firozabad, Shergarh (Old Fort), Shahjahanabad, and New Delhi.
  • However, depending on what is considered a city, this number can be as high as 11.

In focus: City of Mehrauli

  • Mehrauli is widely considered to be the oldest ‘city’ of Delhi and is the oldest area of the metropolis to be continuously inhabited.
  • It was first built by a ruler called Anangpal II in the 11th century, and it was called Lalkot.
  • Later, it was known as ‘Quila Rai Pithora’ and was fortified by the Chauhans.
  • The Mamluk dynasty took control of the city in 1192, and Qutubudin Aibak, the first ruler of the dynasty, built the Qutub Minar and the Quwwat-al-Islam mosque (oldest mosque in North India).
  • In the following century, more buildings like tombs, step wells, palaces, and fortifications were constructed during the reigns of Iltutmish, Razia Sultan, and Alauddin Khilji.

Continued relevance and inhabitation

  • Even as the newer cities came up and the seat of power shifted northwards, Mehrauli witnessed building activity as late as the Mughal and British periods.
  • Due to its location on the lap of the Aravallis hills, the area was preferred as a summer retreat.
  • Two Mughal summer palaces (Zafar Mahal and Jahaz Mahal) and a summer abode of Sir Thomas Metcalfe (Dilkhusha) are situated here.
  • Mehrauli lay on a historic trade route, as the number of sarais (Ladho Sarai, Ber Sarai, Neb Sarai) around the area would suggest. A sarai was a resthouse for weary travellers.

Cultural significance of Mehrauli

  • Mehrauli is also a spiritual centre. Sufi saint Hazrat Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (1173 -1235 AD) was buried in the city and his dargah remains popular till date, across religious lines.
  • Some historians cite the dargah as a reason for the city surviving the test of time – despite power shifting elsewhere, the dargah remained a revered destination for pilgrims far and wide.
  • Another spiritual centre for the community is the Yogmaya mandir, believed to be one of the oldest in the city.
  • Yoginis (semi-divine deities) have been an integral part of Indian folklore and this temple dedicated to them is believed to have been constructed by the Pandavas.

How it ended up in encroachments?

  • Like much of the rest of Delhi, the Partition brought many changes to Mehrauli too.
  • Many refugees from the West found sanctuary here. The city has also seen sectarian tensions.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

India’s first Law Minister Dr. Ambedkar’s resignation letter missing from records

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Social reforms stipulated by Dr. Ambedkar

ambedkar

Dr. BR Ambedkar was India’s first Law Minister after independence. The letter of his resignation is now missing from official records.

Dr Ambedkar as Law Minister

  • Dr. B.R. Ambedkar served as Independent India’s first law minister.
  • He was an Indian jurist, economist, politician, and social reforme, who was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1990.
  • It is believed that Sardar Patel and Mahatma Gandhi proposed Dr. Ambedkar’s name for the post of Law Minister in the Nehru Cabinet.

Why was he selected for the post?

  • Being father of our Constitution: Sardar Patel, then deputy PM, had a high regard for Dr. Ambedkar’s intellectual abilities and his contributions to the drafting of India’s Constitution.
  • Political urge for inclusivity: Additionally, Dr. Ambedkar’s role in the Dalit movement and his fight against caste discrimination also made him a significant political figure.
  • Representation of the marginalized: His appointment as the Law Minister was seen as a symbol of inclusivity and representation of marginalized communities in the government.

Why did Dr. Ambedkar resign?

  • Political differences with Nehru: He resigned as Law Minister, due to differences with the then PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, over the Hindu Code Bill. He specifically wanted to reform Hindu Personal Laws and not every personal laws in India.
  • Row over reforming Personal Laws: The bill aimed to reform Hindu personal laws related to marriage, divorce, and inheritance, but Dr. Ambedkar believed that it did not go far enough in granting women’s rights and wanted more radical changes.
  • Injustice to women: Ambedkar had proposed a more comprehensive set of reforms that would have given women greater rights in matters such as property ownership and inheritance, but his proposals were met with resistance from Nehru and other members of the government.

Efforts to locate his resignation letter

  • The letter was not found in the National Archives of India and the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The Maharashtra government has also been unable to locate the letter in its archives.
  • RTI (Right to Information) requests were also unsuccessful.

Significance of his letter

  • The missing letter is a matter of concern as it is an important historical document.
  • Ambedkar’s resignation was a significant event in India’s political history and the reasons behind it are still relevant today.
  • The letter could shed light on the differences between the visionary Dr. Ambedkar and then mainstream politicians.

 

 

India’s first Provisional Government (Constitutionally)

 

  • Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of India after the country gained independence in 1947.
  • The members of his first cabinet, which was sworn in on August 15, 1947, were as follows:
  1. Jawaharlal Nehru – Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs
  2. Vallabhbhai Patel – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs
  3. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar – Minister of Law and Member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council
  4. C. Rajagopalachari – Minister of Industry and Supply
  5. John Mathai – Minister of Railways
  6. Liaquat Ali Khan – Minister of Finance
  7. Baldev Singh – Minister of Defence
  8. Sardar Baldev Singh – Minister of Communications
  9. Sardar Swaran Singh – Minister of Works, Mines and Power
  10. Jagjivan Ram – Minister of Labour and Rehabilitation
  11. Dr. Rajendra Prasad – Minister of Food and Agriculture
  12. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad – Minister of Education
  13. Sardar K.M. Panikkar – Minister of States
  14. Rafi Ahmed Kidwai – Minister of Communications (Independent Charge)
  15. Asaf Ali – Minister of Railways (Independent Charge)
  • It is worth noting that this was a provisional government, and the first general election to form a permanent government was held in 1952.

 

Note: Azad Hind was not India’s first provisional government. The credit for establishing that – formally known as the ”Hukumat-i-Moktar-i-Hind” – in Kabul on 1st Dec, 1915, goes to Raja Mahendra Pratap and Maulana Barkatullah.

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Who was Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati

Mains level: Not Much

dayanand

PM inaugurated celebrations commemorating Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati’s 200th birth anniversary.

Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883)

  • Dayanand Saraswati (born Mool Shankar Tiwari) was a religious leader and founder of the Arya Samaj, a reform movement in the nineteenth century.
  • He was a profound scholar of the Vedic lore and Sanskrit language.
  • Dayanand was a great scholar, and was well-versed in the Vedas and the Upanishads.
  • He was also proficient in Sanskrit grammar, philosophy, religion, politics and other sciences.

Notable works

(1) Literary works

  • He wrote several books, including the Satyarth Prakash, which became the moral and spiritual foundation of the Arya Samaj.
  • This book was translated into many languages, including Hindi, English and Urdu.

(2) Freedom movement

  • He was the first to give the call for Swaraj as “Indian for India” – in 1876, a call later taken up by Lokmanya Tilak.
  • Subsequently, the philosopher and President of India, S. Radhakrishnan, called him one of the “makers of Modern India”, as did Sri Aurobindo.

(3) Religious reform

  • Denouncing the idolatry and ritualistic worship prevalent in Hinduism at the time, he worked towards reviving Vedic ideologies.
  • He believed that the Vedas should be interpreted in the light of reason and not of blind faith.
  • He also campaigned against animal sacrifice and the worship of idols.

(4) Social reform

  • Dayanand was a staunch advocate of women’s rights.
  • He believed in the equality of all human beings and advocated the abolition of the caste system.

(5) Education

  • Dayanand was an ardent believer in the power of knowledge and education.
  • He established the Gurukul system of education, which provided free education to all, irrespective of caste or gender.
  • Based on his teachings, in 1885 the first DAV School was established at Lahore which was subsequently upgraded to become the first DAV College.
  • In 1886 the DAV College Trust and Management Society was established and registered.

 

Try this PYQ:

Which among the following event happened earliest?

(a) Swami Dayanand established Arya Samaj

(b) Dinabandhu Mitra wrote Neeldarpan

(c) Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote Anandmath

(d) Satyendranath Tagore became the first India to succeed in the Indian Civil Services Examination.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Today in History: Treaty of Alinagar

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Treaty of Alinagar

Mains level: Not Much

alinagar

Signed on February 9, 1757, the Treaty of Alinagar between the Nawab of Bengal and the East India Company raised the curtains for British colonial expansion in India.

Treaty of Alinagar, 1757

  • Signed on February 9, 1757, the Treaty of Alinagar was signed between Robert Clive of the East India Company and Mirza Muhammad Siraj Ud Daula, then Nawab of Bengal.
  • It is said to be one of the key events leading up to the Battle of Plassey later that year.
  • Plassey was where the English laid a significant blow, defeating the nawab. It paved the way for the East India Company’s takeover of Bengal.
  • The name Alinagar was a short-lived reference to modern-day Kolkata, and the treaty came about after the nawab was faced with both the British and Afghan forces.
  • He compromised with the former; however, the peace was short-lived.

British advent in India: A quick backgrounder

  • After the Anglo-Mughal War which took place between 1686 and 1690, the British began consolidating their presence in the subcontinent.
  • It had established the Fort St. George in what was Madras, Fort William in then Calcutta and Bombay Castle by the beginning of the 18th century.
  • The British initially helped local princes and nawabs quell uprisings or revolts and they, in turn, gave them concessions.

Course of the treaty

  • In January 1757, the British attacked the town of Hooghly, close to then Calcutta, with over 700 men.
  • The Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-daulah, who had just come to power a year earlier in his early 20s, mobilised forces.
  • His troops would overpower the British and reach Calcutta on January 10, 1757, having lost over 600 men.
  • However, the losses sustained in the war had resulted in the nawab losing confidence.
  • He signed what came to be known as the Treaty of Alinagar with Robert Clive – who became the first British Governor of the Bengal Presidency – on February 9, 1757.
  • Siraj-ud-daulah agreed to the restoration of the company’s factories and allowed for the fortification of Calcutta.

Aftermath of the battle

  • The British then moved on to wrest the remaining territories in Bengal from the French, laying siege to Chandannagar.
  • However, the move did not go down well with the nawab.
  • But, Daulah was also wary of Afghan forces under Ahmad Shah Durrani and the Marathas.
  • Traders in his kingdom were already wary of him and there was a conspiracy led by the likes of his military general, Mir Jafar.
  • Events would later culminate in the Battle of Plassey on June 23, 1757.
  • It resulted in the East India Company gaining hold of Bengal and was a significant event in its rise to power in the subcontinent.

Try this question.

Q.For most Indians, the history of British colonial rule in India begins in Plassey. However, the roots of it were sown long back. Discuss. (250W)

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Kingdom of Vijayanagara

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vijayanagar Empire, Krishna Deva Raya I

Mains level: Read the attached story

vijay

A British author has published a book telling of the fictionalised story of the Vijayanagara Kingdom. He took accounts of the poet named Pampa Kampana, who witnessed Vijayanagara’s many victories and defeats.

Who was Pampa Kampana?

  • Pampa Kampana was a 15th-century ruler of the Vijayanagara Empire, who reigned from 1484 to 1490.
  • He is known for his military campaigns against the Bahmani Sultanate and the Gajapati kingdom of Orissa.
  • He was a great patron of the arts and literature, and his court was home to illustrious poets and scholars such as Vyasatirtha.

 

About Vijayanagara Kingdom

  • The Vijayanagara kingdom has long been a subject of historical and political interest.
  • From their capital, now known as Hampi, on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, the kings of Vijayanagara at the peak of their power ruled over a territory of more than 360,000 sq. km.
  • Founded in 1336, the kingdom of Vijayanagara lasted for more than three centuries, a period in which it withstood multiple political stresses, and saw significant advances in art and economy.
  • It was one of the most powerful kingdoms in the sub-continent.

Its foundation

  • Over the course of its existence from 1336 to 1646, the kingdom saw various ups and downs.
  • Founded by Harihara I of the Sangama dynasty, Vijayanagara expanded from a strategic position on the banks of the Tungabhadra River.
  • By the 15th century, it had become a force to reckon with.

Rise under Krishna Deva Raya I

  • The kingdom reached its peak under Krishna Deva Raya (reign 1509-1529).
  • It is a period in which Vijayanagara enjoyed military superiority to its rival kingdoms such as the Bahmani Sultanate, the Golconda Sultanate and the Gajapatis of Odisha.
  • At its peak, the kingdom stretched from Goa in the Konkan coast to parts of southern Odisha in the east and all the way to the very tip of the subcontinent in the south.

Why the Vijayanagara history is so much celebrated?

Ans. Economic Prosperity

  • Monetized economy: Coins were minted by the state as well as by merchant guilds using gold, silver, copper and brass, and their value depended on material weight.
  • Control over key commodities: The Empire’s principal exports were pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, myrobalan, tamarind timber, anafistula, precious and semi-precious stones, pearls, musk, ambergris, rhubarb, aloe, cotton cloth and porcelain.
  • Maritime trade: While the economy of the kingdom was largely dependent on agriculture, trade thrived in its many ports on either coast. Traveller Abd al-Razzaq Samarqandi chronicled how the ports of Mangalore, Honavar, Bhatkal, Barkur, Cochin, Cannanore, Machilipatnam, and Dharmadam saw traders from Africa, Arabia, Aden, the Red sea, China and Bengal and also served as ship building centres.

Vijayanagara’s contributions to culture and architecture

(1) Literary development

  • The Vijayanagar Empire was also known for its flourishing culture and literature.
  • The court was home to many poets and scholars, who wrote in both Sanskrit and Kannada.
  • The emperor Krishnadevaraya was himself a noted poet, authoring works such as the Amuktamalyada and the Jambavati Kalyanam.
  • The Vijayanagar Empire also patronized the arts, which led to a flourishing of music, dance, and painting.

(2) Architectural development

  • Vijayanagara’s capital Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today, known for its sophisticated fortifications as well as innumerable temples and other architectural marvels.
  • From accounts of foreign travellers, by the beginning of the 16th century, Hampi-Vijayanagara was probably the second largest urban settlement on the planet (after Beijing) and among the most prosperous.
  • The most impressive architectural feat of the Vijayanagar Empire was the iconic Vitthala temple complex in Hampi.
  • This complex consists of a temple dedicated to the god Vitthala, a large audience hall, and a stone chariot shrine.
  • The Prasanna Virupaksha temple of Bukka I and the Hazara Rama temple of Krishna Deva Raya are striking examples of Vijayanagara’s characteristic style and intricate artistry.

Causes of its decline

  • Military defeats: The first major defeat for the empire was the Battle of Talikota in 1565, in which the Vijayanagara Empire was defeated by a coalition of Muslim sultanates. This major defeat drastically weakened the Vijayanagara Empire and led to a period of political instability and civil war.
  • Economic disruption: This was further worsened by the Deccan Sultanates’ policy of destroying Vijayanagara’s economy and trade networks. This ultimately resulted in the loss of the empire’s political power and reduced its ability to defend itself from further attacks.
  • Internal conflict: Other contributing factors included internal divisions between the ruling families and the rise of local governors who declared their independence.

Various travellers details of Vijayanagara kingdom

  • Vasco da Gama: The first encounter with the Vijayanagara Empire by a European traveller was by the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, who visited the kingdom in 1498, and was the first to recognize its wealth and power. After this, Krishnadevaraya in 1510 signed a treaty with the Portuguese to permit Albuquerque to construct forts in Bhatkal.
  • Nicolo Conti: The Italian traveller Nicolo Conti visited the kingdom in 1420 and documented his journey in a book titled “Viaggio in India”. He wrote about the grandeur of the cities and the wealth of the kingdom.
  • Jan Huyghen van Linschoten: The Dutch traveller Jan Huyghen van Linschoten visited the kingdom in 1583 and wrote a book describing his journey titled “Itinerario”. He wrote about the impressive forts, the magnificent temples, the thriving markets and the grand palaces.
  • Jean-Baptiste Tavernier: The French traveller Jean-Baptiste Tavernier visited the kingdom in 1665 and wrote a book about his journey titled “Les Six Voyages de Jean-Baptiste Tavernier”. He wrote about the fine architecture, the grandeur of the palaces, and the wealth and prosperity of the kingdom.
  • Robert Orme: The English traveller Robert Orme visited the kingdom in 1770 and wrote a book about his journey titled “Military Transactions in India”. He wrote about the size and scope of the empire, the grandeur of its cities and the advanced military technology used by the kingdom.

Try this PYQ:

Building ‘Kalyaana Mandapas’ was a notable feature in the temple construction in the kingdom of

(a) Chalukya

(b) Chandela

(c) Rashtrakuta

(d) Vijayanagara

 

Post your answers here.
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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Mughal Gardens will now be called as Amrit Udyan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mughal Garden/ Amrit Udyan

Mains level: Charbagh gardening style

mughal

The Rashtrapati Bhavan gardens — popularly known as the Mughal Gardens was renamed as Amrit Udyan.

The Amrit Udyan

  • Edwin Lutyens had finalized the designs of the Mughal Gardens in 1917, but it was only during the year 1928-1929 that planting was done.
  • It is spread across 15 acres and it incorporates both Mughal and English landscaping styles.
  • The main garden has two channels intersecting at right angles dividing the garden into a grid of squares- a Charbagh (a four-cornered garden)- a typical characteristic of Mughal landscaping.
  • There are six lotus-shaped fountains at the crossings of these channels rising to a height of 12 feet.
  • The gardens house nearly 2500 varieties of Dahlias and 120 varieties of roses.

Why was it earlier named as Mughal Gardens?

  • The garden is designed in Persian style of landscaping or what we call as ‘‘Mughal Gardens”.
  • In fact, Edward Lutyens who designed the Viceroy’s House, what we call today as Rashtrapati Bhavan had deliberately used Mughal architectural details as part of the British appeasement plan.
  • We see Chajja (dripstone), the Chattri (domed kiosk), the Jali (pierced screen) and many other Indian architectural features liberally used there.
  • Mughal canals, terraces and flowering shrubs are beautifully blended with European flowerbeds, lawns and private hedges.

Back2Basics: Mughal Gardening in India- The Charbagh Style

mughal

  • The Mughals were known to appreciate gardens. In Babur Nama, Babur says that his favourite kind of garden is the Persian charbagh style (literally, four quadrants garden).
  • The charbagh structure was intended to create a representation of an earthly utopia‘jannat’ – in which humans co-exist in perfect harmony with all elements of nature.
  • Defined by its rectilinear layouts, divided in four equal sections, these gardens can be found across lands previously ruled by the Mughals.
  • From the gardens surrounding Humanyun’s Tomb in Delhi to the Nishat Bagh in Srinagar, all are built in this style – giving them the moniker of Mughal Gardens.
  • A defining feature of these gardens is the use of waterways, often to demarcate the various quadrants of the garden.
  • Fountains were often built, symbolising the “cycle of life.”

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Who was Goswami Tulsidas (1511–1623)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ramchatrimanas, Tulsidas

Mains level: Bhakti Movement

tulsidas

Tulsidas has come into controversy due to some of its verses (Chaupai) mentioned in the Ramcharitmanas.

Who was Tulsidas?

  • Tulsidas, a Brahmin whose original name was Ram Bola Dubey, is believed to have been born in Rajapur by the Yamuna in today’s Banda district.
  • He composed the Ramcharitmanas on the bank of the Ganga in Varanasi — he is said to have begun writing on Ram Navami day in 1574, and completed the poem over the next few years.
  • Tulsidas lived in the time of Emperor Akbar, and some believe that he was in touch with Abdurrahim Khan-e-Khanan, the son of Akbar’s commander Bairam Khan.

The Ramcharitmanas

  • The poem was written in the 16th century in the Awadhi dialect that is mainly spoken in the areas that are today’s Lucknow, Prayagraj, and Ayodhya districts.
  • It was written in the Avdhi dialect. The sacred chant ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ is a part of it.
  • It is divided into seven chapters (Kand) that tell the story of Lord Ram from birth to his becoming King of Ayodhya.

Why is Ramcharitmanas so famous?

  • The Ramcharitmanas is based on the Ramayana, sage Valmiki’s great epic.
  • It is the holiest book of the Indo-Gangetic region, and among the world’s most read holy books — by one estimate, Geeta Press (Gorakhpur) has sold almost 7 crore copies.
  • Across the Hindi heartland, a reference to “Ramayan” often actually means Ramcharitmanas.
  • Tulsidas made the story of Lord Ram popular among the masses because he wrote in the regional dialect that most people understood.

Tulisdas and political controversies

  • While in the Ramcharitmanas, Lord Ram is maryada purushottam, the epitome of righteousness, his conduct has been criticised by leaders of anti-Brahmin movements like E V Ramasamy Periyar.
  • One of the 22 pledges that Dr B R Ambedkar administered to his followers while embracing Buddhism in October 1956 was: “I shall have no faith in Rama and Krishna, who are believed to be incarnation of God, nor shall I worship them.”
  • Non-upper caste assertion in politics has sometimes been manifested in criticism of the Ramcharitmanas.
  • Critics have used these parts of the poem to accuse Tulsidas of being against the non-upper castes and women, and a flagbearer of the idea of Brahminical superiority.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Places in news: Jagannath Puri Temple

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jagannath Temple and its architecture

Mains level: Not Much

Odisha Governor’s suggestion that foreigners and non-Hindus should be allowed to enter Puri’s famed Jagannath temple has not gone down well with traditionalists and political leaders alike.

Why in news?

  • It has been the practice for centuries — even though there is no clearly articulated reason for it.
  • Some historians believe that multiple attacks on the Temple by foreign invaders might have led the servitors to impose restrictions on the entry of non-Hindus.
  • Others have said that this was the practice from the time the Temple was built.
  • In 1984, the servitors famously opposed the entry of Indira Gandhi inside the Temple, saying she had married a non-Hindu.

About Jagannath Temple

  • The Jagannath Temple is an important Vaishnavite temple dedicated to Jagannath, a form of Sri Krishna in Puri in Odisha.
  • The present temple was rebuilt from the 10th century onwards, on the site of an earlier temple, and begun by Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva, the first king of the Eastern Ganga dynasty.
  • The Puri temple is famous for its annual Ratha Yatra, or chariot festival, in which the three principal deities are pulled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars.

Its architecture

  • With its sculptural richness and fluidity of the Oriya style of temple architecture, it is one of the most magnificent monuments of India.
  • The huge temple complex covers an area of over 400,000 square feet and is surrounded by a high fortified wall.
  • This 20 feet high wall is known as Meghanada Pacheri.
  • Another wall known as kurma bedha surrounds the main temple.

The temple has four distinct sectional structures, namely:

  1. Deula, Vimana or Garba griha (Sanctum sanctorum) where the triad deities are lodged on the ratnavedi (Throne of Pearls). In Rekha Deula style;
  2. Mukhashala (Frontal porch);
  3. Nata mandir/Natamandapa, which is also known as the Jagamohan (Audience Hall/Dancing Hall), and
  4. Bhoga Mandapa (Offerings Hall)

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Who was Fatima Sheikh (1831-1900)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Fatima Sheikh

Mains level: Pioneers of girl child education in India

fatima

Teaching pioneer Fatima Shaikh was recently honoured with a Google Doodle on her birthday.

Fatima Sheikh

  • Fatima Sheikh was an educator and social reformer, who was a colleague of the social reformers Jyotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule.
  • She is widely considered to be India’s first Muslim woman teacher.
  • Fatima Sheikh was the sister of Mian Usman Sheikh, in whose house Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule took up residence.
  • One of the first Muslim women teachers of modern India, she started educating Bahujan children in Phules’ school.

Association with Phules

  • Under pressure from upper castes, Jyotirao’s father evicted Savitribai and Jyotirao from the family home in the late 1840s.
  • With nowhere else to go, the Phules would find shelter at the house of Mian Usman Sheikh, where they would live till 1856.
  • As many from their own community abandoned them, Fatima Sheikh and her brother stood strongly with the Phules and the mission to educate girls and bahujans.
  • Sheikh met Savitribai Phule while both were enrolled at a teacher training institution run by Cynthia Farrar, an American missionary.
  • She taught at all five schools that the Phules went on to establish and she taught children of all religions and castes.
  • Sheikh took part in the founding of two schools in Mumbai (then Bombay) in 1851.

Determined amidst opposition

  • In Pune, a conservative bastion of culture and tradition, the very act of trying to educate the underprivileged caused uproar.
  • It is said that the two women would often have stones and pieces of dung thrown at them while walking in the streets.
  • Fatima specifically is said to have borne the wrath of both upper-castes and radical orthodox sections.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Who was Savitribai Phule?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Savitribhai Phule

Mains level: Not Much

phule

Recently, 192nd birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule, w/o Jyotiba Phule (the pioneer of Satyashodhak Samaj) was celebrated.

Who was Savitribai Phule?

  • A Dalit woman from the Mali community, Savitribai was born on January 3, 1831, in Maharashtra’s Naigaon village.
  • Married off at the age of 10, her husband Jyotirao Phule is said to have educated her at home.
  • Later, Jyotirao admitted Savitribai to a teachers’ training institution in Pune.
  • Throughout their life, the couple supported each other and in doing so, broke many social barriers.

Pioneering first school for girls in India

  • At a time when it was considered unacceptable for women to even attain education, the couple went on to open a school for girls in Bhidewada, Pune, in 1848.
  • This became the country’s first girls’ school.

Opposition to Phules’ schools

  • The Phules opened more such schools for girls, Shudras and Ati-Shudras (the backward castes and Dalits, respectively) in Pune.
  • This led to discontent among Indian nationalists like Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
  • They opposed the setting up of schools for girls and non-Brahmins, citing a “loss of nationality”, and believing not following the caste rules would mean a loss of nationality itself.
  • Savitribai herself faced great animosity from the upper castes, including instances of physical violence.
  • When serving as the headmistress of the first school in Bhide Wada, upper-caste men often pelted stones and threw mud and cow dung on her.

Phule’s role as a social reformer, beyond education

  • Infanticide prevention: Along with Jyotirao, Savitribai started the Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha (‘Home for the Prevention of Infanticide’) for pregnant widows facing discrimination.
  • Child adoption: The Phules also adopted Yashwantrao, the child of a widow, whom they educated to become a doctor.
  • Reforms in marriages: Savitribai Phule also advocated inter-caste marriages, widow remarriage, and eradication of child marriage, sati and dowry systems, among other social issues.
  • Denouncing Brahmanical ritualism: As an extension, they started ‘Satyashodhak Marriage’ – a rejection of Brahmanical rituals where the marrying couple takes a pledge to promote education and equality.
  • Bubonic plague mitigation: Savitribai became involved in relief work during the 1896 famine in Maharashtra and the 1897 Bubonic plague. She herself contracted the disease while taking a sick child to the hospital, and breathed her last on March 10, 1897.

Savitribai’s literary works

  • Savitribai Phule published her first collection of poems, called Kavya Phule (‘Poetry’s Blossoms’), at the age of 23 in 1854.
  • She published Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar (‘The Ocean of Pure Gems’), in 1892.
  • Besides these works, Matushri Savitribai Phulenchi Bhashane va Gaani (Savitribai Phule’s speeches and songs’), and her letters to her husband have also been published.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Bhima-Koregaon Battle

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Battle of Bhima Koregaon

Mains level: Not Much

koregao

The 205th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle was recently celebrated in all harmony at the Ranstambh (victory pillar) in Perne village in Pune.

Battle of Bhima-Koregaon

  • The 1818 battle of Bhima-Koregaon, one of the last battles of the Third Anglo-Maratha War culminated in the Peshwa’s defeat.
  • It was fought on 1 January 1818 between the British East India Company (BEIC) and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy, at Koregaon at the banks of River Bhima.
  • A 28,000-strong force led by Peshwa Baji Rao II while on their way to attack the company-held Pune were unexpectedly met by an 800-strong Company force of which 500 belonged to the Dalit community.
  • The battle was part of the Third Anglo Maratha war, a series of battles that culminated in the defeat of the Peshwa rule and subsequent rule of the BEIC in nearly all of Western, Central, and Southern India.

Role of Mahar Community

  • Back in the seventeenth century, the community was particularly valued by the ruler Shivaji, under whom Maratha caste identities were far more fluid.
  • The value of the Mahars for military recruitment under Shivaji was noted by the social reformer Jyotirao Phule.
  • The Mahars were not only beneficiaries of the attempt at caste unity under Shivaji but were in fact valued for their martial skills, bravery, and loyalty.

Mahars during Maratha Empire

  • The position occupied by the Mahars under Shivaji, however, was short-lived and under later Peshwa rulers, their status deteriorated.
  • The Peshwas were infamous for their Brahmin orthodoxy and their persecution of the untouchables.
  • The Mahars were forbidden to move about in public spaces and punished atrociously for disrespecting caste regulations.
  • Stories of Peshwa atrocities against the Mahars suggest that they were made to tie brooms behind their backs to wipe out their footprints and pots on their necks to collect their spit.

Why is the battle significant?

  • The battle resulted in losses to the Maratha Empire, then under Peshwa rule, and control over most of western, central, and southern India by the British East India Company.
  • The battle has been seen as a symbol of Dalit pride because a large number of soldiers in the Company forces were the Mahar Dalits, the same oppressed community to which Babasaheb Ambedkar belonged.
  • After centuries of inhumane treatment, this battle was the first time that Mahars had been included in a battle in which they won.

Dr. Ambedkar’s association

  • It was Babasaheb Ambedkar’s visit to the site on January 1, 1927, that revitalized the memory of the battle for the Dalit community.
  • He led to its commemoration in the form of a victory pillar, besides creating the discourse of Dalit valor against Peshwa ‘oppression’ of Dalits.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Madan Mohan Malaviya and BHU

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Madan Mohan Malviya

Mains level: Not Much

Madan Mohan Malaviya

An archive on the principal founder of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), ‘Mahamana’ Madan Mohan Malaviya was recently unveiled.

Who was Madan Mohan Malaviya?

  • Malaviya was born on 25th December, 1861 in Allahabad.
  • He was a great Indian educationist and freedom fighter, distinguished from others for his significant role in Indian independence and his support of Hindu nationalism.
  • At the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), which he founded in 1916, he served as Vice-Chancellor from 1919 to 1938.
  • The University has around 12,000 students all across the field such as the arts, sciences, engineering and technology.

Political affiliations

  • Malaviya rose up the ranks, and became president four times — in 1909 (Lahore), in 1918 (Delhi), in 1930 (Delhi), and in 1932 (Calcutta).
  • He was part of the Congress for almost 50 years.
  • He was one of the early leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha, and helped found it in 1906.
  • He was a social reformer and a successful legislator, serving as a member of the Imperial Legislative Council for 11 years (1909–20).
  • In the freedom struggle, he was midway between the Liberals and the Nationalists, the Moderates and the Extremists, as the followers of Gokhale and Tilak were respectively called.
  • In 1930, when Mahatma Gandhi launched the Salt Satyagraha and the Civil Disobedience Movement, he participated in it and courted arrest.

Literary associations

  • He remained the Hindustan Times’ Chairman from 1924 to 1946.
  • He was involved with magazines including the-
  1. Hindi language weekly, the Abhyudaya (1907)
  2. English-language daily the Leader of Allahabad (1909) and
  3. Hindi dailies Aaj

 

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In news: Foundation Day of the INC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: INC

Mains level: INC and freedom struggle

inc

A political party recently marked the  138th foundation day of Indian National Congress (INC) on December 28.

How the INC was founded?

  • The INC came into being on December 28, 1885.
  • The English bureaucrat Allan Octavian Hume is credited as the founder of the organisation.
  • On that day, 72 social reformers, journalists and lawyers congregated for the first session of the INC at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College, Bombay.
  • Stated objectives of INC included-
  1. First, the fusion into one national whole of all the different elements that constitute the population of India.
  2. Second, the gradual regeneration along all lines, spiritual, moral, social, and political, of the nation thus evolved; and
  3. Third, the consolidation, of, the union between England and India.

Real motive behind: ‘Safety Valve’ Theory

  • At that point, the aim of this group was not to demand independence from the ongoing colonial rule but to influence the policies of the British government in favour of Indians.
  • Its objective is often described as providing a “safety valve” as the time, through which Indians could air out their grievances and frustration.
  • As Mr. Hume explained, the: Congress organization was ‘only one outcome of the labours of a body of cultured men, mostly Indians, who hound themselves together to labour silently for the good of India.’

Transformation towards freedom movement

Ans. Famous for 3P’s: Prayers, Protest and Petitions

  • The party’s work continued, to shift the colonial administrators’ attitudes and policies on the rights and powers allowed to Indians.
  • The members frequently protested issues of British colonialism, such as the Bengal famine and the drain of wealth from India.
  • However, these protests were at this point usually limited to prayers, petitions and protests, including writing letters to the authorities.
  • As the British rule continued, there grew differences in what the party’s functioning should be like.

Strength of INC

  • Diverse participation: One of the biggest strengths of the party, which helped it appeal to a broad section of Indian society, was having members who held different ideological positions.
  • Pan-India organization: Its popularity grew across every corner of India.

Early criticism of INC

  • Non-effective: Hume and the party were criticised, by the British for attempting to change the existing systems that favoured them and by some Indians for not achieving significant results.
  • Elite-organization: The party largely consisted of educated, upper-class people who were likely to have studied abroad.

Splits and reconvening

  • In Surat in 1906, the divisions between the ‘moderates’ led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Surendranath Banerjea, and the ‘extremists’ led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak came to the fore and there was a split.
  • While Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai wanted the Congress to boycott the visit of the Prince of Wales in protest against the Bengal Partition a year prior, the moderates opposed any such move.
  • But by 1915, the Bombay session saw these two groups coming together again as one.
  • The pattern of splits and eventual cohesion continued well after Indian independence, even after the party came to completely dominate successive general elections under PM Jawaharlal Nehru.

Important sessions of INC

    Year     Session President Importance  
    1885 Bombay W C Banerjee First session
    1888 Allahabad George Yule First English President of INC
    1896 Calcutta Rahimtullah M. Sayani National song ‘Vande Mataram’ sung for the first time
    1906 Calcutta Dadabhai Naoroji Dadabhai Naoroji coined the term Swaraj.
    1907 Surat Rash Behari Ghosh Party splits into extremists and moderates
    1911 Calcutta Bishan Narayan Dar National Anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ sung for the first time
    1916 Lucknow Ambica Charan Mazumdar Reunion of Congress and Lucknow Pact, Joint session with the Muslim league
    1917 Calcutta Annie Besant First Woman President of the INC
    1919 Amritsar Motilal Nehru Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre took place
    1924 Belgaum M K Gandhi Only session where MK Gandhi was the President
    1925 Kanpur Sarojini Naidu First Indian Woman President of INC
    1927 Madras M A Ansari Independence Resolution was put forward
    1928 Calcutta Session, Motilal Nehru All India Youth Congress formed
    1929 Lahore Jawaharlal Nehru Poorna Swaraj Resolution @ 26th January, Civil Disobedience Movement launched
    1931

 

Karachi Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel A resolution on Fundamental Rights and National Economic Progress was passed. Gandhi-Irwin pact was endorsed and  Gandhiji was nominated to represent INC in the second round table conference
    1936 Lucknow Jawaharlal Nehru Idea of Socialism was imbibed
    1938 Haripura Subhas Chandra Bose National Planning Committee set up under Nehru, Haripura Resolution passed, which demanded Poorna Swaraj, including the princely states as well.
    1940 Ramgarh Abul Kalam Azad He was the longest-serving President of INC during British rule.

Quit India Movement started in 1942

    1946 Meerut J.B. Kripalani Last session before Indian independence

 

 

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements

  1. The first woman President of the Indian National Congress was Sarojini Naidu.
  2. The first Muslim President of the Indian National Congress was Badruddin Tyabji.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Ahilyabai Holkar (1725 –1795)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ahilyabai Holkar

Mains level: Read the attached story

ahilya

There has been a proposal from the district administration to rename the Western Maharashtra city of Ahmednagar as ‘Punyashlok Ahilyadevi Nagar’, after the 18th century Malwa queen, Ahilyabai Holkar.

History of Ahmednagar

  • Ahmednagar lies in the Western region of Maharashtra.
  • It has been a part of some prominent kingdoms, starting from 240 B.C. when the vicinity is mentioned in the reference to the Mauryan Emperor Ashok.
  • The Rashtrakuta Dynasty, the Western Chalukyas, and then the Delhi Sultanate ruled over the region in the Medieval period.
  • In the last case, the rule was not direct, and a revolt by Afghan soldier Alladin Hasan Gangu led to the establishment of the Bahmani kingdom in the Deccan.
  • After some time, Ahmednagar (then known as Nizamshahi) became one of the five independent kingdoms to emerge from that empire.

How did the city of Ahmednagar first get its name?

  • In 1486, Malik Ahmad Nizam Shah became the Bahmani Sultanate’s Prime Minister.
  • He fought back an attempt by the king to dislodge him from power, and defeated the army of the Bahamani kingdom near Ahmednagar in May 1490.
  • Finally, in 1494 he laid the foundation of a city close to where he defeated the army, on the left bank of Sina river, and named it after himself: Ahmednagar.

Who was Ahilyabai Holkar?

  • Born in Chondi village of Ahmednagar to the village head Mankoji Shinde, on May 31, 1725, Ahilyabai was one of the few women rulers of Medieval India.
  • While the education of girls and women was rare at that time, Mankoji insisted on it for his daughter.
  • When she was eight years old, Malhar Rao Holkar, the army commander to Peshwa Bajirao, is believed to have spotted her at a temple service in Chondi.
  • Impressed by her devotion and character, he decided to get his son, Khande Rao, married to her.
  • Ahilyabai took control of Malwa after her husband’s death in the Battle of Kumbher against the king of Bharatpur in 1754.

Her Administration

  • She brought about two important changes in the administration, both divergences from the traditions of her era.
  • She vested the military power in Tukoji Holkar, a confidante of her father-in-law though not related.
  • She separated the state’s revenue from the personal use of the ruling family. Her personal expenses were met from inherited wealth and the land holdings she had.

Role in demolished temple re-construction

  • From Gangotri to Rameshwaram, and from Dwarka to Gaya, she spent money on rebuilding temples destroyed under the Mughal rule.
  • The most significant one, however, is the current Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi.
  • Destroyed by the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb to build the Gyaanvapi mosque, the temple was restored in its current form by Ahilyabai in the year 1780, 111 years after its destruction.
  • The Somnath temple, witness to the regular destruction by a host of aggressors over the centuries, was restored in 1783 by all the Maratha confederates, with a significant contributions from Ahilyabai.
  • With temples and rest areas in Kedarnath, Srisailam, Omkareshwar and Ujjain, Ahilyabai contributed to the improvement of facilities at other holy sites hosting Jyotirlingas too.

Conclusion

  • Ahilyabai died in the year 1795 at the age of 70.
  • Her legacy is not documented in a structured way in history textbooks or popular references either.
  • Part of the problem is the general absence of any non-Mughal, non-British narratives in contemporary Indian history books.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

3 more sites added to UNESCO’s tentative list of World Heritage Sites

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: World Heritage Cites

Mains level: Not Much

Gujarat’s Vadnagar town, the iconic Sun Temple at Modhera, and the rock cut sculptures of Unakoti in Tripura have been added to the tentative list of UNCESO World Heritage Sites.

What is UNESCO tentative list?

  • The UNESCO tentative list is an inventory of those properties which each State Party intends to consider for nomination.
  • With these 3 sites, India now has 52 sites on UNESCO Tentative List.

About the sites

(1) Sun Temple, Modhera

unesco

  • The Sun Temple at Modhera is located on the left bank of the river Pushpavati, a tributary of river Rupan in Becharaji taluka of Mehsana district.
  • The temple description states that it is built in Maru-gurjara architectural style, consists of the main temple shrine (garbhagriha), a hall (gadhamandapa), an outer hall or assembly hall (Sabhamandapa or rangamandapa) and a sacred pool (Kunda), which is now called Ramakunda.
  • This east-facing temple is built with bright yellow sandstone.
  • It is the earliest of such temples which set trends in architectural and decorative details, representing the Solanki style at its best.

(2) Vadnagar

unesco

  • Vadnagar is a historic town, which had continuous habitation for more than 2,700 years.
  • A multi-layered historic town, the history of Vadnagar stretches back to nearly 8th century BCE.
  • The town still retains a large number of historic buildings that are primarily religious and residential in nature.
  • It has evolved with time and has an early historic fortified settlement, hinterland port, centre for industries of shells and beads, late medieval town, religious centre/temple town, a significant junction on trade routes and mercantile town.
  • Rampart datable to second century BCE, fortification along the lake from third-fourth century CE, findings of Indo-Pacific glass beads and marine shells, palaeo-seismic evidence evidently point towards historical authenticity of the town.

(3) Unakoti

unesco

  • Located in the northeastern region of Tripura, Unakoti is known as an ancient holy place associated with Shaiva worship.
  • It is famously known as the ‘Angkor Wat of the North-East’
  • The structures of the rock-cut sculptures are gigantic and have distinct mongoloid features and display almost the same mystical charm as the spellbinding figures in the Angkor Wat temple of Cambodia.

Back2Basics: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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

UNESCO World Heritage Committee

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

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Goa Liberation Day

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Goa Liberation Day

Mains level: Decolonization in India

goa

The President of India tweeted her greetings to the nation on December 19, marking Goa Liberation Day, which is celebrated annually to mark the success of ‘Operation Vijay’ undertaken by the Indian armed forces to defeat Portuguese colonial forces and liberate Goa in 1961.

What is the news?

  • Goa was liberated 15 years after India attained freedom.
  • Last year PM Modi accused Nehru as guilty of leaving satyagrahis in the dismay, refusing to send the Indian Army to liberate Goa, even after 25 of them were shot dead by the Portuguese Army.

Goa’s Colonization: A backgrounder

  • Goa became a Portuguese colony in 1510, when Admiral Afonso de Albuquerque defeated the forces of the sultan of Bjiapur, Yusuf Adil Shah.
  • The next four and a half centuries saw one of Asia’s longest colonial encounters — Goa found itself at the intersection of competing regional and global powers.
  • It received a religious and cultural ferment that lead eventually to the germination of a distinct Goan identity that continues to be a source of contestation even today.
  • By the turn of the twentieth century, Goa had started to witness an upsurge of nationalist sentiment opposed to Portugal’s colonial rule, in sync with the anti-British nationalist movement.

Beginning of freedom movement

  • Tristao de Braganza Cunha, celebrated as the father of Goan nationalism, founded the Goa National Congress at the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress in 1928.
  • In 1946, the socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia led a historic rally in Goa that gave a call for civil liberties and freedom, and eventual integration with India.
  • This event became a watershed moment in Goa’s freedom struggle.
  • At the same time, there was a thinking that civil liberties could not be won by peaceful methods, and a more aggressive armed struggle was needed.
  • This was the view of the Azad Gomantak Dal (AGD), whose co-founder Prabhakar Sinari is one of the few freedom fighters still living today.
  • Finally, Goa was liberated on December 19, 1961 by swift Indian military action that lasted less than two days.

Recognition of Goa

  • The Supreme Court of India recognized the validity of the annexation and rejected the continued applicability of the law of occupation.
  • In a treaty with retroactive effect, Portugal recognized Indian sovereignty in 1974.
  • Under the jus cogens rule, forceful annexations including the annexation of Goa are held as illegal since they have taken place after the UN Charter came into force.

Why was Goa left un-colonized?

As India moved towards independence, however, it became clear that Goa would not be free any time soon, because of a variety of complex factors.

  • No immediate war: Then PM Nehru felt that if he launched a military operation (like in Hyderabad) to oust the colonial rulers, his image as a global leader of peace would be impacted.
  • Trauma of Partition: The trauma of Partition and the massive rupture that followed, coupled with the war with Pakistan, kept the Government of India from opening another front.
  • Internationalization of the issue: This might have led the international community to get involved.
  • No demand from within: It was Gandhi’s opinion that a lot of groundwork was still needed to raise the consciousness of the people, and the diverse political voices emerging within be brought under a common umbrella.

Nehruvian dilemma

  • India’s global image: Nehru was headed in shaping India’s position in the comity of nations.
  • Trying peaceful options: He was trying to exhaust all options available to him given the circumstances that India was emerging from.
  • Portuguese obsession: Portugal had changed its constitution in 1951 to claim Goa not as a colonial possession, but as an overseas province.
  • Portugal in NATO: The move was apparently aimed at making Goa a part of the newly formed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) military alliance. Hence the collective security clause of the treaty would be triggered.
  • Weak indigenous push: Nehru saw it prudent to pursue bilateral diplomatic measures with Portugal to negotiate a peaceful transfer while, at the same time, a more ‘overt’ indigenous push for liberation.

Why did Nehru wait until December 1961 to launch a full-scale military offensive?

India could no longer be seen to delay the liberation of Goa because:

  • Portuguese offensive against Satyagrahis: The firing incident also provoked a sharp response from the Government of India, which snapped diplomatic and consular ties with Portugal in 1955.
  • India as torchbearer of de-colonization: India got itself firmly established as a leader of the Non Aligned World and Afro-Asian Unity, with decolonization and anti-imperialism as the pillars of its policy.
  • Criticisms from African nations: An Indian Council of Africa seminar on Portuguese colonies organized in 1961 heard strong views from African as this was hampering their own struggles against the ruthless regime.
  • Weakening Colonialism: The delegates were certain that the Portuguese empire would collapse the day Goa was liberated.

 

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Indian student at Cambridge decodes Panini’s Language Machine

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Panini, Language Machine

Mains level: Not Much

panini

A grammatical problem by Panini that has defeated Sanskrit scholars since the 5th Century BC has finally been solved by an Indian Ph.D. student at the University of Cambridge.

Who was Panini?

  • Panini was a Sanskrit philologist, grammarian, and revered scholar in ancient India, variously dated between the 6th and 4th century BCE.
  • Since the discovery and publication of his work by European scholars in the nineteenth century, Panini has been considered the “first descriptive linguist” and even labelled as “the father of linguistics”.
  • Panini’s grammar was influential on such foundational linguists as Ferdinand de Saussure and Leonard Bloomfield.

Major literary works

  • Panini is known for his texts- Astadhyayi, a sutra-style treatise on Sanskrit grammar, verses or rules on linguistics, syntax and semantics in “eight chapters” which is the foundational text of the Vyakarna branch of the Vedanga.
  • His text attracted numerous bhashya (commentaries), of which Patanjali’s Mahabhashya is the most famous.
  • His ideas influenced and attracted commentaries from scholars of other Indian religions such as Buddhism.

What is the recent breakthrough?

  • Panini had an extraordinary mind and he built a language machine unrivaled in human history.
  • The 2,500-year-old algorithm decoded by him makes it possible, for the first time, to accurately use Panini’s so-called “language machine”.
  • This discovery makes it possible to “derive” any Sanskrit word, to construct millions of grammatically correct words, using Panini’s language machine.
  • This is widely considered to be one of the greatest intellectual achievements in history.

How does this language machine works?

  • Panini’s system – 4,000 rules detailed in his renowned work, the Astadhyayi, which is thought to have been written around 500 BC – is meant to work like a machine.
  • Feed in the base and suffix of a word and it should turn them into grammatically correct words and sentences through a step-by-step process.

Significance of this development

  • A major implication of the recent discovery is that now there is an algorithm that runs Panini’s grammar.
  • We can potentially teach this grammar to computers.
  • Computer scientists working on Natural Language Processing (NLP) gave up on rule-based approaches over 50 years ago.
  • NLP is a branch of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning.
  • So teaching computers how to combine the speaker’s intention with Panini’s rule-based grammar to produce human speech would be a major milestone in the history of human interaction with machines.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

[pib] 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sri Aurobindo Ghosh

Mains level: NA

aurobindo

PM will participate in a program commemorating Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birth anniversary.

Sri Aurobindo (1872 –1950)

  • Sri Aurobindo Ghose was a philosopher, yogi, maharishi, poet, and Indian nationalist.
  • He was also a journalist, editing newspapers such as Vande Mataram.
  • He joined the Indian movement for independence from British colonial rule, until 1910 was one of its influential leaders.

Major activities                

  • Aurobindo studied for the Indian Civil Service at King’s College, Cambridge, England.
  • After returning to India he took up various civil service works under the Maharaja of the Princely state of Baroda.
  • He became increasingly involved in nationalist politics in the Indian National Congress and the nascent revolutionary movement in Bengal with the Anushilan Samiti.
  • He was arrested in the aftermath of a number of bombings linked to his organization in a public trial where he faced charges of treason for Alipore Conspiracy.
  • However, Sri Aurobindo could only be convicted and imprisoned for writing articles against British colonial rule in India.

 

Try this PYQ:

Q. What was the main reason for the split in the Indian National Congress at Surat in 1907?

(a) Introduction of communalism into Indian politics by Lord Minto

(b) Extremists’ lack of faith in the capacity of the moderates to negotiate with the British Government

(c) Foundation of Muslim League

(d) Aurobindo Ghosh’s inability to be elected as the President of the Indian national Congress

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Is it Jawaharlal Nehru’s fault?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Integration of Princely states

Nehru

Context

  • Jawaharlal Nehru has recently come under criticism for declining to accept the Kashmir Maharaja’s initial offer to accede to India in September 1947, several weeks before the tribal invasion. Even great statesmen make occasional mistakes and Nehru was no exception. However, a careful examination of the historical background shows that Prime Minister Nehru cannot be faulted in this case.

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Background: Jammu and Kashmir’s Maharaja Hari Singh and his stand on accession

  • Stand against accession with either India or Pakistan: Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir was one of the few princely rulers who had held out against accession to either India and Pakistan before the partition of British India.
  • Lord Mountbatten visit and assurance: a couple of months prior to the partition, the Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, visited Srinagar in an attempt to persuade the Maharaja to opt for one or the other of the two states, offering him an assurance from Sardar Patel that India would raise no objection if the ruler were to opt for Pakistan.
  • Maharaja evaded discussion and hopes for an independent state: The Maharaja entertained his guest in regal style but evaded any discussion on the political issue, pleading a stomach ailment. Hari Singh evidently hoped that, with the lapse of British paramountcy, he would become the ruler of an independent and sovereign state.

How Maharaja’s hope of a sovereign state got dashed?

  • Uprising assisted by Pakistan: An uprising in Poonch assisted by Pakistani elements.
  • Economic sanctions by Pakistan: an undeclared economic embargo imposed by the Pakistani authorities. Since Kashmir’s main trade exchanges in those days were with Pakistan, the unofficial embargo resulted in great hardship.

How Maharaja revised his position on accession?

  • Decided to talk on terms of accession and a message to Nehru: Maharaja asked Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan, his prime minister-designate, to convey to Nehru the terms on which he was prepared to accede to India.
  • Nehru urging Maharaja to induct Sheikh Abdullah into state government: Nehru had been urging the Maharaja to induct Sheikh Abdullah, the leader of the secular National Conference, into the state government in order to ensure popular support for the administration.
  • Reluctant to have immediate administrative reforms Maharaja refused: The Maharaja was not agreeable to introducing immediate reforms in the administration of the state. The Maharaja indicated that he was not prepared to do so, at least at this stage.
  • Nehru reiterated to associate Abdullah with the governance of the state: When Mahajan conveyed these terms to Nehru in the third week of September, the latter reiterated that Abdullah should be freed from prison and associated with the governance of the state.

Nehru

Why did Nehru insist on bringing Sheikh Abdullah into the administration?

  • He anticipated the armed intervention by Pakistan and armed rebellion: Nehru anticipated armed intervention by Pakistan in Kashmir and foresaw that this could be repulsed only by a government that enjoyed popular support.
  • A letter to Sardar patel before a month before tribal invasion: He set out his views in a letter to Sardar Patel on September 27, 1947, nearly a month before the tribal invasion. This remarkable letter has not received the attention it deserves.
  • Anticipating the demand of the time, he confirmed his way: Nehru, therefore, concluded that the only acceptable course was for the Maharaja to seek the cooperation of Sheikh Abdullah and the National Conference while acceding to India. This was the only effective way of countering Pakistani designs.

Interesting: Nehru’s letter to Sardar Patel a month before tribal invasion assisted by Pakistan

  • “The Muslim League in the Punjab and the NWFP are making preparations to enter Kashmir in considerable numbers. The approach of winter is going to cut off Kashmir from the rest of India,” he wrote. “I understand that the Pakistan strategy is to infiltrate into Kashmir now and to take some major action as soon as Kashmir is more or less isolated because of the coming winter. I rather doubt if the Maharaja and the State forces can meet the situation by themselves without some popular help… Obviously the only major group that can side with them is the National Conference under Sheikh Abdullah’s leadership.”

Nehru

Rest is the story of accession

  • Nehru’s assessment confirmed and Maharaja agreed to his advice: Nehru’s assessment of Pakistan’s plans to invade Kashmir were confirmed within three weeks. It was only at this stage that the Maharaja heeded Nehru’s advice. He inducted Sheikh Abdullah into the government and acceded to India. This had momentous consequences for the defence of Kashmir against the invaders.
  • Resistance against Pakistani invaders: The normal administrative machinery had broken down and responsibility for maintaining law and order had been taken over by National Conference volunteers. Abdullah and his followers organised the popular resistance against the Pakistani invaders.
  • Advance of raiders and then Indian troops were airlifted to assist and protect the state: With the advance of the raiders towards Srinagar, the Maharaja’s administration had virtually collapsed. By the time Indian troops were airlifted to Srinagar on October 27, 1947, the Maharaja had departed to Jammu for safety. The first batches of Indian troops who had been airlifted to Srinagar had arrived without transport vehicles.

Conclusion

  • Far from being a blunder, Jawaharlal Nehru’s insistence on linking accession to the installation of a popular government in Jammu and Kashmir bears testimony to his foresight and statesmanship.

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What Ambedkar said about Buddhism ‘being better than Marxism’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Maoism, Leninism and Marxism

Mains level: Not Much

While his views on Buddhism being superior to other religions are well-known, Ambedkar also believed the Buddha’s path to be superior to the popular religion-rejecting philosophy, Marxism.

Marxist view of religion

  • Marx saw religion as a conservative force that prevented social change by creating false consciousness.
  • Marx once said- “Religion is the opium of the people. It is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of our soulless conditions.”
  • The end goal of Marxism is to achieve a classless society throughout the world.

How Dr. Ambedkar compared Buddhism to Marxism?

  • Ambedkar has compared Buddhism with Marxism, saying that while both strive for the same end of a just and happy society.
  • The means propounded by Buddha are superior to those of Marx.
  • It is just simple that Marx was modern and Buddha ancient.
  • If the Marxists keep back their prejudices and study the Buddha and understand what he stood for I feel sure that they will change their attitude, Ambedkar writes.

Similarities between the two

  • In showing the similarities between Buddhism and Marxism, Ambedkar first condenses the basic philosophy of both into neat bullet points.
  • For Buddhism, Dr. Ambedkar lists key points:
  1. The function of Religion is to reconstruct the world and to make it happy and not to explain its origin or its end;
  2. That private ownership of property brings power to one class and sorrow to another;
  3. That it is necessary for the good of Society that this sorrow be removed by removing its cause; and
  4. All human beings are equal.
  • Of Marx, he says all that is left “is a residue of fire”:
  1. The function of philosophy is to reconstruct the world and not to waste its time in explaining the origin of the world;
  2. That private ownership of property brings power to one class and sorrow to another through exploitation;
  3. That it is necessary for the good of society that the sorrow be removed by the abolition of private property.”

How abolition of private property works under Buddhism?

  • Dr Ambedkar says Buddhism’s commitment to abolishment of private property is apparent in how its ‘Bhikshus’ give up all worldly goods.
  • He says the rules for Bhikhshus owning property or possessions are “far more rigorous than are to be found in communism in Russia.”
  • To establish a happy and fair society, the Buddha had laid down a path for believers.
  • The means adopted by the Buddha were to convert a man by changing his moral disposition to follow the path voluntarily.

Key difference: Violent means

  • The means adopted by the Communists are equally clear, short and swift. They are (1) Violence and (2) Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
  • It is now clear what are the similarities and differences between Buddha and Karl Marx.
  • The differences are about the means. The end is common to both.
  • The driving force of India’s Constitution also says Buddha was a democrat.
  • As to Dictatorship, the Buddha would have none of it. He was born a democrat and he died a democrat, Ambedkar writes.

 

Try this PYQ:

Q. Karl Marx explained the process of class struggle with the help of which one of the following theories?

(a) Empirical liberalism.

(b) Existentialism.

(c) Darwin’s theory of evolution.

(d) Dialectical materialism.

 

Post your answers here.
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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Shivaji Maharaj and the Agra escape

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National heroes

Mains level: Medieval history, Maratha kingdom and the important persons

Shivaji Maharaj

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Context

  • Recently, Maharashtra Tourism Minister Mangal Lodha triggered a controversy by equating Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s legendary Agra escape to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s defection from the Uddhav Thackeray-led camp in Maharashtra. His comments drew sharp criticism from political parties and other organisations that venerate Shivaji as a Maratha icon, with no parallel in the past or present.

Brief Political background of the issue

  • Eknath Shinde’s “revolt” against party leadership and CM Uddhav Thackeray in June this year led to the fall of the coalition government of the Shiv Sena, NCP, and the Congress. He has since taken the reins of Maharashtra as its CM.

Shivaji Maharaj

Who was Chhattrapati Shivaji Maharaj?

  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1630-1680): He was born on 19th February, 1630 at Shivneri Fort in District Pune in the present-day state of Maharashtra. He was born to a general Shahaji raje who served different Deccan Sultans over the course of his life and Jijabai, as known to be an influential and determined woman who was an embodiment of self-respect and virtue.
  • Founder of an Independent Maratha kingdom: Shivaji Maharaj was keen on expanding his father’s fiefdom of modern-day Pune into an independent Maratha state. He carved out an independent Maratha kingdom from various Deccan states in the 17th century. At the time of his death, he held around 300 forts over an area that stretched across the Konkan coast, from Surat to near Goa, and was overlooked by the strategic Western Ghats.
  • Contemporary kingdoms and power struggle: At this point of time, several Sultanates (mainly Bijapur, Golkonda and Ahmadnagar) and the Mughals were vying for the control of the Deccan. As Mughal power grew, these Sultanates would become tributaries to the Mughal Empire (while often continuing to bicker among themselves) with the rulers and ruling clans being given positions in the Mughal court.
  • Lifetime conflicts and fights for Swaraj: His conflict with the Adil Shahi Sultanate of Bijapur began when he was only 16. He would spend the rest of his life fighting various opponents, and in the process, laying the foundation for the Maratha Empire which would stretch across large parts of the Indian subcontinent and rule till the 19th Century.
  • Importance of forts in his times: Early in his life, he realised that the key to holding power in the Deccan (or for that matter, many places in India in that era) was to capture and hold important forts. Thus, his strategies would be centred around taking control of forts in strategic locations, often on hilltops. He also repaired and built new forts as his sphere of control increased.

How is Shivaji Maharaj remembered?

  • An inspiration to fight against the colonial rule: Shivaji remained a Maratha folk legend until two centuries after his death. It was the British Raj and the subsequent anti-colonial movement that marked his increasing stature in history and as a pan Indian hero.
  • From a folk hero to a Pan India hero: Nationalist historians saw him as an example of an local Indian ruler who was able to successfully resist and defeat the powerful and oppressive “outsiders” (Muslim rulers, including both Mughals and the Deccan Sultans). Thus, Shivaji rose from being a folk hero to a nationalist icon, seen as a proto-nationalist himself.
  • Tales of his bravery and just rule used to infuse motivation: Tales of his bravery were told to galvanise a population that was enduring emasculation and injustices under its British overlords. Over the 19th and 20th centuries, the narrative around Shivaji Maharaj emphasised on both his military heroism and his just rule.

Shivaji Maharaj

Shivaji Maharaj and the Mughals

  • Meteoric rise: Shivaji Maharaj’s meteoric rise posed challenges to the suzerainty of the Mughals. His first direct encounter with the Mughals was during Aurangzeb’s Deccan campaigns of the 1650s. As Aurangzeb went North to fight for the Mughal throne, Shivaji Maharaj was able to seize further territory.
  • Swift and smart warfare tactics beyond understanding of the Mughals: His tactics against the Mughals were adapted to the specific nature of his force and the flabby Mughal armies. Using swift cavalry attacks, he would raid and pillage Mughal strongholds. While on the rare occasion he would engage in battle to actually capture and hold Mughal positions, most often, he would simply cause much menace, raid the treasury, and leave with the Mughals in terror and disarray.
  • Well know Seize of Surat: Famously, in 1664, he attacked the port of Surat (now in Gujarat) and plundered one of the richest and busiest commercial towns of Mughal India while the local governor hid in a nearby fort.
  • Posed a greatest challenge to Aurangzeb and subsequent treaty of Purandar: As the legend of Shivaji and the physical sphere of his influence grew, Aurangzeb sent a 100,000-strong, well-equipped army under Raja Jai Singh I to subdue him in 1665. After putting up a valiant fight, Shivaji was besieged in the Purandar hill fort.

The chronology of the great escape

  • Taken to Agra after purandar treaty: He was taken to Aurangzeb’s court in Agra in 1666. He presented Aurangzeb with various gifts, but he felt slighted at the treatment he received in return, and made his displeasure clear in open court.
  • Kept under strict House arrest: Aurangzeb put him under house arrest in Agra. Far away from home and help, Shivaji realised he needed to escape to save himself and his territories. He began to plot a plan to return home and keep up his fight against the Mughals.
  • The perfect plan of escape: The story of Shivaji’s subsequent escape is now part of common lore. The popularly told story involves an elaborate plan, under which he began daily distribution of alms to brahmans. The alms would be sent from his home in Agra in large, covered baskets.
  • The final escape right under the nose of Mughals: After some time, the Mughal guards became lax about checking the contents of the baskets that daily left his house. One day, Shivaji slipped into one of the baskets, and put his young son, Sambhaji, in another basket. It was in these covered baskets that Shivaji and his son left Agra, right under the noses of the Mughals.
  • Smart and swift movement in disguise from the Mughal territory: From there, he would traverse across Mughal territory, living incognito until he reached the safer lands closer to home. Some versions of this story say that he took the disguise of a wandering ascetic while others say he had a number of different disguises. His exact path is not known, though folktales and songs memorialising Shivaji often mention different towns and places he crossed.
  • Embarrassed Aurangzeb regarded him as a king: Aurangzeb was livid and embarrassed. But he chose not to start an immediate conflict with Shivaji again. Instead, he offered Shivaji the title of Raja and guaranteed his authority in the Maratha lands as long as he acknowledged the supremacy of the Mughals and maintained truce.

Shivaji Maharaj

Coronation of Shivaji Maharaj to Chhatrapati and the ideal rule

  • By 1669, Shivaji had regrouped and raised an effective army. Using his old guerilla tactics, he would swiftly descend into static Mughal and Bijapuri strongholds, looting and pillaging the shocked Mughals.
  • During this time, Aurangzeb was occupied with Pathan revolts in the North-West corner of his Empire. Shivaji deftly regained his lost positions in the Konkan coast. In 1674, he crowned himself Chhatrapati, officially creating an independent Maratha kingdom.
  • The next six years were spent expanding his rule and forging new political norms, replacing the prevailing Indo-Persian court culture. He promoted the use of Marathi and Sanskrit in his courts and created an elaborate administrative system with a council of ministers known as “Ashta Pradhan.”

Conclusion

  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is not just a name or a person but to many he is an idea, a life and inspiration for today and tomorrow, which has no parallel in the past or the present.
  • Protection of the Swarajya and welfare of his subjects were the motives that pushed Shivaji Maharaj to escape from Agra. Comparing his love for his subjects with the political exigencies and manoeuvers of present-day politicians will be an injustice to the astuteness of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Mains question

Q. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is considered as the king of the people; Discuss how he is remembered today and what qualities make him stand tall and different from those of the past and present?

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Notable women in the making of Constitution of India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Making of Indian Constitution

women

PM highlighted the contribution of women in the Constituent Assembly which drafted the Constitution was hardly discussed and efforts should be made to educate future generations about their work.

These are the 15 invisible architects of the Indian republic cited by the PM-

Note: This newscard has some invincible set of facts that no one can remember in one go. However, we advise you to take some notes and have it on your desk. Be it sticky notes or something. Revise them for some days.

(1) Ammu Swaminathan

  • She was born into an upper-caste Nair family in the Palghat district of Kerala.
  • She was a social worker and politician who along with Annie Besant, Margaret Cousins, Malathi Patwardhan, Mrs. Dadabhoy, and Mrs. Ambujammal, formed the Women’s India Association in 1917 in Madras.
  • One of the first associations to demand adult franchise and constitutional rights for women.
  • She strongly opposed discriminatory caste practices although, she belonged to an upper-caste and strongly advocated equal status, adult franchise, and the removal of untouchability.
  • Ammu became a part of the Constituent Assembly in 1946 from the Madras constituency.
  • She felt that the Constitution was too long and that it had gone into unnecessary detail and wanted a constitution that could fit easily into a pocket or purse.

(2) Annie Mascarene

  • Annie Mascarene was born into a Latin Catholic family belonging to Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
  • She was one of the first women to join the Travancore State Congress and became the first woman to be part of the Travancore State Congress Working Committee.
  • She was one of the leaders of the movements for independence and integration with the Indian nation in the Travancore State.
  • She was elected to the First Lok Sabha in the Indian general election, 1951.
  • She was the first woman MP from Kerala and one of only ten elected to Parliament in the elections.
  • Before her election to Parliament, she had served briefly as Minister in Charge of Health and Power during 1949-1950.

(3) Begum Aizaz Rasul

  • She was born into the princely family of Malerkotla, Punjab.
  • She was the only Muslim woman in the Constituent Assembly.
  • She, together with her husband joined the Muslim League after the enactment of the GOI Act 1935.
  • In 1950, after the dissolution of the Muslim League in India, she joined Congress.
  • She was elected to the Constituent Assembly as a member of the Muslim League representing the United Provinces.
  • Although she was not a part of any committee in the Assembly, she advocated for National language, reservation and property rights, and minority rights.
  • She was against making ‘Sanskritised Hindi’ the National language, as only very few understood it and instead advocated for Hindustani.

(4) Dakshayani Velayudhan

  • She was born into an agrestic slave caste, Pulayas, on a small island of Bolgatty on the coast of Cochin.
  • She was the only Dalit women member of the Constituent Assembly and also the youngest at 34 years.
  • She was the first Dalit woman to graduate in India, and was the only female student pursuing a course in the sciences.
  • She was inspired into politics through her family’s fight against discriminatory caste practices.
  • She was the first generation Kerala woman to be able to cover their upper-body.
  • She was nominated to the Assembly in 1945 from Madras.
  • In the Assembly, she advocated on issues of untouchability, forced labour, reservations, and against separate electorates for Dalits.
  • She believed that the best way to address untouchability was through sustained state propaganda and not through punishment.
  • In 1977 she set up a women’s rights organization Mahila Jagriti Parishad in Delhi.

(5) Durgabai Deshmukh

  • Durgabai, from the ripe age of twelve, was a part of the Indian freedom movement.
  • She quit school to protest the imposition of English as a medium of education, part of the Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • She volunteered at a conference held by the Indian National Congress in Kakinada at the age of 14.
  • She participated in the Salt Satyagraha from Madras in May of 1930.
  • While she was in prison, she studied English and completed her master’s degree from Andhra University.
  • She then studied law at Madras University and practiced at the bar for a few years.
  • She established Andhra Mahila Sabha to coach young Telugu girls in Madras for their Matriculation examination conducted by the Banaras Hindu University in 1936.
  • She was elected to the Constituent Assembly from Madras and was part of the Committee on Rules and Procedure and the Steering Committee.
  • She also advocated for judicial-independence and human trafficking.
  • She also felt that Hindustani should be adopted as a national language instead of Sanskritised Hindi but, she later argued against adopting Hindi as the national language.

(6) Hansa Jivraj Mehta

  • She was a writer, social reformer, social activist, and educator.
  • In 1937, she contested in the Bombay Legislative Council elections from the general category; she not only won but remained on the council till 1949.
  • She became President of the All India Women’s Conference in 1946.
  • During the presidency, she drafted the Indian Women’s Charter of Rights and Duties, which called for gender equality and civil rights for women.
  • She is 1946 also served as a member of the UN sub-committee on the status of women.
  • She along with Eleanor Roosevelt, vice-chaired the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights Committee.
  • She was part of the Advisory Committee, Sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights, Provincial Constitution Committee.
  • She strongly advocated for a uniform civil code and believed that purdah was an evil practice. She also rejected quotas, reserved seats, and separate electorates for women.

(7) Kamla Chaudhary

  • She was a feminist, fictional writer, and political activist.
  • Her political career began in 1930 when she joined the Indian National Congress and was an active participant in the Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • At the 54th session of the All India Congress Committee, she was the vice-president.
  • She was elected to the Constituent Assembly.

(8) Leela Roy

  • She was a great social reformer, a staunch feminist and a social and political activist, and a close associate of Subash Chandra Bose.
  • In 1923 she received her M.A from Dhaka University and was the first woman to obtain it from the University.
  • She was an advocate for women’s education and established Dipali Sangh, an association for women, in 1923.
  • She founded a school named Dipali School and twelve other free primary schools with the help of the Dipali Sangha.
  • Subsequently, in 1928, she established two other schools known as Nari Shiksa Mandir (Temple of Women’s Education) and Shiksa Bhaban (House of Education).
  • Another important contribution was made b her to Muslim women’s education by setting up one of her schools as Qamrunnessa Girl’s School in Dhaka.
  • She was the only woman to be elected from Bengal to the Constituent Assembly on 9th December 1946.
  • However, she resigned from her post a few months later to protest against the partition of India.

(9) Malati Choudhury

  • She hailed from East Bengal (now Bangladesh).
  • At the age of 16, in 1929, she was sent to Santiniketan where she got admitted to Viswa-Bharati.
  • Along with her husband, during the Salt Satyagrah joined the Indian National Congress.
  • In 1933, she formed Utkal Congress Samajvadi Karmi Sangh along with, her husband and later came to be known as the Orissa Provincial Branch of the All India Congress Socialist Party.
  • She joined Gandhiji in his famous padayatra in Orissa in 1934.
  • For the upliftment of vulnerable communities in Odisha, she set-up several organizations such as the Bajiraut Chhatravas.

(10) Purnima Banerjee

  • She was a part of the individual Satyagraha and Quit India movement.
  • She was a member of the Congress Socialist Party and the Indian National Congress.
  • She held the post as the Secretary of the Allahabad City Congress Committee, working towards creating rural engagement.
  • She was appointed to the Constituent Assembly from United Provinces.
  • She argued that the preventative detention clause in Draft Article 15A (Article 22 of the Constitution of India) must prescribe time limits beyond which a person cannot be detained.
  • During the discussion of the Preamble, she expressly stated that ‘sovereignty’ is derived from the people of India.
  • During the discussion around the qualifications of Rajya Sabha members, Banerjee believed that the age limit should be reduced from 35 to 30 years.

(11) Rajkumari Amrit Kaur

  • Inspired by Gandhi’s fight for Independence, she gave up her Sherborne and Oxford education to be his Secretary for 16 years.
  • In 1927 she along with Margaret cousins co-founded the All-India Women’s Conference.
  • She held the position of Secretary in 1930 and President in 1933.
  • She played a vital part in India’s establishment of constitutional equality of genders guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, and 16.
  • She was also played a pivotal part in the inclusion of the Uniform Civil Code as part of the Directive Principles of State Policy.
  • She was the first Health Minister of independent India and held office for ten years.
  • She was the first female and first Asian President of the world health Assembly.

(12) Renuka Ray

  • Renuka Rai is a celebrated women’s rights and inheritance rights in parent a property activist.
  • She, like Kaur, was inspired by Gandhi’s call for the independence struggle, joined Gandhi’s Ashram accompanying him in protests.
  • In 1934 while working as a secretary of the AIWC, she authored ‘legal disability is Women in India; A Plea for A Commission of Inquiry’.
  • She worked for the prevention of women trafficking and the improvement of conditions of female labourers.
  • Ray contributed to numerous women’s rights issues, minority rights, and bicameral legislature provisions. She fought for Uniform Personal Law Code.
  • In 1949 represented India in the UN General assembly.

(13) Sarojini Naidu

  • The first woman president of the Indian National Congress was popularly known as the Nightingale of India.
  • When in England, she had gained some experience in suffragist campaigns and was drawn to India’s Congress movement and Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-cooperation Movement.
  • Besides being a suffragette, she was also a women rights activist, and she advocated for reforms to improve the conditions of widows in the Indian National Social Conference in Madras, 1908.
  • In 1917 she headed the All-India Women’s Deputation and championed women’s suffrage before E. S. Montagu (Secretary of State for India).
  • In the same year, she together with Annie Besant, set up the Women’s India Association.
  • In 1931 she accompanied Gandhi to London for the inconclusive second session of the Round Table Conference.
  • She was appointed to the Constituent Assembly from Bihar as part of the ad-hoc committee on the national flag.

(14) Sucheta Kriplani

  • The first elected female chief minister of an Indian state was born in Ambala.
  • A graduate from Indraprastha College for Women, Delhi University, taught Constitutional History at Banaras Hindu University until 1939.
  • She became a member of the Congress Party in 1938, served as the Secretary to the Foreign Department and Women’s Section for a year and a half.
  • Under her leadership, the women’s wing of the Congress Party was established in 1940.
  • She held an active role in India’s struggle for independence during the 1940s and was remembered especially for her role in the 1942 Quit India Movement for which she was arrested in 1944 and detained for a year.
  • She was elected to the Constituent Assembly from the United Provinces in 1946 as a member of the Flag Presentation Committee.
  • This committee presented the first Indian flag before the Constituent Assembly.
  • Kriplani served as a Secretary to the Relief and Rehabilitation Committee established by the Congress Party, playing a pivotal role in rehabilitating the Bengali refugees during the partition.
  • She had a colourful political career. She was also a part of various delegations to international organizations and countries.

(15) Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

  • Born, Swarup Kumari Nehru was a diplomat and politician. She changed her name after her marriage in 1921.
  • As an enthusiastic participant of the independence struggle, she was imprisoned on three different occasions.
  • After the Indian Independence, she became an eminent diplomat representing India in the United Nations between 1946- 48 and 1952-53.
  • She was an Ambassador to Moscow, Mexico, and Washington and later to England and Ireland concurrently.
  • She is the first woman to become President of the UN General Assembly.
  • She was appointed as the governor of Maharashtra after her return to India.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Untitled

November 24, is commemorated as the Shaheedi Divas of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth guru of the Sikhs, who stood up against forcible conversions by the Mughals, and was executed on the orders of Aurangzeb in 1675.

 Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621–1675)

  • Guru Tegh Bahadur was the ninth of ten Gurus of the Sikh religion. He was born at Amritsar in 1621 and was the youngest son of Guru Hargobind.
  • His term as Guru ran from 1665 to 1675. One hundred and fifteen of his hymns are in Guru Granth Sahib.
  • There are several accounts explaining the motive behind the assassination of Guru Tegh Bahadur on Aurangzeb’s orders.
  • He stood up for the rights of Kashmiri Pandits who approached him against religious persecution by Aurangzeb.
  • He was publicly executed in 1675 on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi for himself refusing Mughal rulers and defying them.
  • Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib and Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in Delhi mark the places of execution and cremation of his body.

Impact of his martyrdom

  • The execution hardened the resolve of Sikhs against religious oppression and persecution.
  • His martyrdom helped all Sikh Panths consolidate to make the protection of human rights central to its Sikh identity.
  • Inspired by him, his nine-year-old son, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, eventually organized the Sikh group into a distinct, formal, symbol-patterned community that came to be known as Khalsa (Martial) identity.
  • In the words of Noel King of the University of California, “Guru Teg Bahadur’s martyrdom was the first-ever martyrdom for human rights in the world.
  • He is fondly remembered as ‘Hind di Chaadar’.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following Bhakti Saints:

  1. Dadu Dayal
  2. Guru Nanak
  3. Tyagaraja

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

(a) 1 and 3

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3

(d) 1 and 2

 

Post your answers here.
0
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Buddhist Nyingma Sect finds ‘reincarnation’ of famous Rinpoche

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nyingma school of buddhism

Mains level: Not Much

In a significant development in Tibetan Buddhist circles, the Nyingma sect has identified a boy from Spiti in Himachal Pradesh as the reincarnation of the late Taklung Setrung Rinpoche, a scholar known for his knowledge of Tibetan Tantric school.

About the Nyingma Sect

  • Nyingma (literally ‘old school’) is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • It is founded on the first lineages and translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan in the eighth century, during the reign of King Trisong Detsen (r. 710–755).
  • Nyingma traditional histories consider their teachings to trace back to the first Buddha Samantabhadra (Güntu Sangpo) and Indian mahasiddhas such as Garab Dorjé, Śrī Siṃha and Jñānasūtra.
  • Traditional sources trace the origin of the Nyingma order in Tibet to figures associated with the initial introduction of Buddhism in the 8th century, such as Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyal, Vimalamitra, Vairotsana, Buddhaguhya and Shantaraksita.

Who is a Rinpoche?

  • Rinpoche is an honorific term used in the Tibetan language.
  • It literally means “precious one”, and may refer to a person, place, or thing—like the words “gem” or “jewel”.
  • The word consists of rin (value), po (nominalizing suffix) and chen (big).
  • The word is used in the context of Tibetan Buddhism as a way of showing respect when addressing those recognized as reincarnated, older, respected or an accomplished Lamas or teachers of the Dharma.
  • It is also used as an honorific for abbots of Buddhist monasteries.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Who was Guru Tegh Bahadur?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Guru Tegh Bahadur

Mains level: Not Much

November 24, is commemorated as the Shaheedi Divas of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth guru of the Sikhs, who stood up against forcible conversions by the Mughals, and was executed on the orders of Aurangzeb in 1675.

 Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621–1675)

  • Guru Tegh Bahadur was the ninth of ten Gurus of the Sikh religion. He was born at Amritsar in 1621 and was the youngest son of Guru Hargobind.
  • His term as Guru ran from 1665 to 1675. One hundred and fifteen of his hymns are in Guru Granth Sahib.
  • There are several accounts explaining the motive behind the assassination of Guru Tegh Bahadur on Aurangzeb’s orders.
  • He stood up for the rights of Kashmiri Pandits who approached him against religious persecution by Aurangzeb.
  • He was publicly executed in 1675 on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi for himself refusing Mughal rulers and defying them.
  • Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib and Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in Delhi mark the places of execution and cremation of his body.

Impact of his martyrdom

  • The execution hardened the resolve of Sikhs against religious oppression and persecution.
  • His martyrdom helped all Sikh Panths consolidate to make the protection of human rights central to its Sikh identity.
  • Inspired by him, his nine-year-old son, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, eventually organized the Sikh group into a distinct, formal, symbol-patterned community that came to be known as Khalsa (Martial) identity.
  • In the words of Noel King of the University of California, “Guru Teg Bahadur’s martyrdom was the first-ever martyrdom for human rights in the world.
  • He is fondly remembered as ‘Hind di Chaadar’.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following Bhakti Saints:

  1. Dadu Dayal
  2. Guru Nanak
  3. Tyagaraja

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

(a) 1 and 3

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3

(d) 1 and 2

 

Post your answers here.
2
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

Click and get your FREE Copy of CURRENT AFFAIRS Micro Notes

(Click) FREE1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

400th birth anniversary of legendary hero Lachit Borphukan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lachit Borphukan

Mains level: NA

lachit

The three-day-long celebration of the 400th birth anniversary of Ahom General Lachit Barphukan has begun.

Who was Lachit Borphukan?

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

Lachit Divas

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

 

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Uda Devi: A Dalit freedom fighter

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Uda Devi

Mains level: Not Much

uda devi

On November 16, events to commemorate the martyrdom of Uda Devi, a freedom fighter from the Pasi community, were held at various places in Uttar Pradesh.

Who was Uda Devi?

  • Uda Devi is remembered not only for her stories of valour but also for her skill as a leader who managed to mobilise people — especially Dalit women — to take up arms against the British.
  • Born in Ujirao, Lucknow, she was part of the royal guard of Begum Hazrat Mahal of Awadh.
  • Her husband, Makka Pasi, worked as a foot soldier in the army of Awadh’s Nawab, Wajid Ali Shah.
  • Hazrat Mahal’s palace had several women belonging to marginalised communities, and their occupation was mostly to take care of the needs of the royalty.
  • Some of them, who showed promise, were also trained as warriors. Uda Devi was one of them.

Her legend

  • Amid the revolt of 1857, on June 10, at Chinhat near Ismailganj, a battle was fought between the army of Lucknow and the British troops led by Henry Lawrence, in which Makka Pasi lost his life.
  • The death of her husband spurred Uda Devi on to take up a more active role in the mutiny.
  • On November 16, 1857, Uda Devi was among the soldiers who clashed with the British regiment stationed near the Gomti River.
  • Although not much of the fight has been documented in history, it is said that Uda Devi killed at least three dozen British soldiers from atop a tree before she could be spotted.

Can you recall the Eka Movement of 1921 from your modern history references? If not, take your time to revise. Read about the contribution of Madari Pasi in this movement.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Birth anniversary of Birsa Munda: The leader, his contributions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Birsa Munda

Mains level: Not Much

birsa

On the occasion of the birth anniversary of tribal leader Birsa Munda, the Centre marked the second Janjatiya Gaurav Divas on November 15 to celebrate the contributions of tribal communities to Indian culture.

Who was Birsa Munda (1875-1900)?

birsa

  • Birsa Munda was a tribal freedom fighter, religious leader, and folk hero who belonged to the Munda tribe.
  • He spearheaded a tribal religious millenarian movement that arose in the Bengal Presidency (now Jharkhand) in the late 19th century, during the British Raj.

His legacy

(A) Birth and early childhood

  • Born on November 15, 1875, Birsa spent much of his childhood moving from one village to another with his parents.
  • He belonged to the Munda tribe in the Chhotanagpur Plateau area.
  • He received his early education at Salga under the guidance of his teacher Jaipal Nag.
  • On the recommendation of Jaipal Nag, Birsa converted to Christianity in order to join the German Mission school.
  • He, however, opted out of the school after a few years.

(B) New faith ‘Birsait’ against religious conversion

  • The impact of Christianity was felt in the way he came to relate to religion later.
  • Having gained awareness of the British colonial ruler and the efforts of the missionaries to convert tribals to Christianity, Birsa started the faith of ‘Birsait’.
  • Soon members of the Munda and Oraon community started joining the Birsait sect and it turned into a challenge to British conversion activities.
  • The Mundas called him Dharati Aaba, the father of earth.

(C) The Ulgulan

  • The Great Tumult or Ulgulan was a movement started by Birsa Munda against the exploitation and discrimination against tribals by the local authorities.
  • Although the movement failed, it did result in the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act which forbade tribal lands passing to non-tribals, protecting their land rights for the foreseeable future.

(D) Death

  • On March 3, 1900, Birsa Munda was arrested by the British police while he was sleeping with his tribal guerilla army at Jamkopai forest in Chakradharpur.
  • He died in Ranchi jail on June 9, 1900, at the young age of 25.

(E) Creation of Jharkhand

  • Birsa Munda’s achievements are known to be even more remarkable by virtue of the fact that he came to acquire them before he was 25.
  • In recognition of his impact on the national movement, the state of Jharkhand was created on his birth anniversary in 2000.

 

Try this PYQ from CSP 2020

With reference to the history of India, “Ulgulan” or the Great Tumult is the description of which of the following event?

(a) The Revolt of 1857

(b) The Mappila Rebellion of 1921

(c) The Indigo Revolt of 1859-60

(d) Birsa Munda’s Revolt of 1899-1900

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Who was Nadaprabhu Kempegowda?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nadaprabhu Kempegowda

Mains level: Not Much

kempegowda

PM unveiled a 108-feet tall bronze statue of ‘Nadaprabhu’ Kempegowda in Bengaluru, credited to be the city’s founder.

Who was Nadaprabhu Kempegowda?

  • Nadaprabhu Kempegowda, a 16th century chieftain of the Vijayanagara empire, is credited as the founder of Bengaluru.
  • It is said that he conceived the idea of a new city while hunting with his minister, and later marked its territory by erecting towers in four corners of the proposed city.
  • Kempegowda is also known to have developed around 1,000 lakes in the city to cater to drinking and agricultural needs.
  • He was from the dominant agricultural Vokkaliga community in south Karnataka.

Political motives behind

  • Kempegowda is an iconic figure among Karnataka’s second most dominant Vokkaliga community after Lingayats.
  • Political parties plan to woo the Vokkaliga community by honoring Kempegowda.
  • The statue would be known as the ‘Statue of Prosperity’.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Forgotten Heroes: Indian Soldiers in World War-II

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: World wars and Indian Soldiers in World wars

Soldiers

Context

  • On the eleventh hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns fell silent over Europe, bringing an end to a brutal first world war that drew in soldiers and contributions from around the world. Indian soldiers and their contribution are not widely recognized in India.

Background of Indian involvement World War II

  • Fight against Fascism: Two conflicts and a reticence Indian reticence over these two conflicts arises from the uneasy relationship between the Indian contribution to fighting fascism on a global stage and the nationalist movement for freedom at home.
  • Betrayal of nationalistic expectation: The success of the first is seen to have come at the cost of the second. It began with the betrayal of nationalist expectations of greater autonomy for India in return for support during the Great War.
  • No consultation with Indian leaders: This was compounded by the bitterness of Viceroy Lord Linlithgow declaring war on Germany on India’s behalf in 1939 without consulting Indian leaders, and further roiled by the pitting of Indian against Indian when Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army sided with the Axis Powers in the hope that this might bring freedom.
  • Fighting for India and for World: But the failure of Indian independence to follow automatically from India’s participation in the wars does not mean that the war efforts extended colonial rule, or were all about protecting Britain: there was fighting on Indian soil to defend India.

Soldiers

What is Indian soldiers role in World War II

  • Support of nationalist leaders: Almost 1.5 million men volunteered to fight in the Great War. Indians mobilized four days after Britain declared war on Germany, with the support of nationalist leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi.
  • War in Europe, Asia and Africa: Indians fought with valor and distinction in the trenches of Europe, West Asia and North Africa, earning 11 Victoria Crosses along the way. Of those men, about 74,000 never came home.
  • Largest volunteer for war: India raised the largest ever volunteer army, of 2.5 million, for the Second World War. More than 87,000 of those men are cremated or buried in war cemeteries around the world and in India.
  • Thirty-one Victoria Crosses: 15 % of the total Victoria crosses went to soldiers from undivided India. Without Indian soldiers, non-combatant labourers, material and money, the course of both conflicts would have been very different as acknowledged by Field Marshal Auchinleck, Britain’s last Commander-in-Chief of the Indian.

The issue of Non-recognition of India’s contribution

  • Indian soldiers are honored by Britain: In Britain, the contribution of the Commonwealth including the Indian subcontinent is memorialized in the Commonwealth Memorial Gates that lead up to Buckingham Palace. The Gates commemorate the campaigns where Commonwealth soldiers served with distinction; there is also a canopy inscribed with the names of the Commonwealth recipients of the George and Victoria Crosses.
  • Indian soldiers fought the Britain’s war: Much of India’s recent history is encapsulated in these gates, in a spirit of gratitude and equality. Britain, after all, has much to be grateful for, but Indians seem less keen to acknowledge this. British perfidy, however, does not in any way reduce the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom. Those who went abroad to fight alongside white British soldiers returned with the knowledge that they were equal to their colonial masters. In not recognizing and honoring this, we push those men back into colonial subjugation.
  • Britain betrayed the hopes of freedom: Some of this ambivalence owes itself to the atrocities of colonial history, which must be acknowledged too. Britain may have handed out 11 Victoria Crosses over the course of the First World War, but it betrayed the hopes of nationalists with the imposition of martial law after the war ended, culminating in the horror of Jallianwala Bagh in April 1919.

Soldiers

Does India fought the war for its own sake?

  • Indian fought the Japanese: These were not just European wars to defend foreign lands. India was threatened in the Second World War by advancing Japanese forces who got as far as Burma/Myanmar. They were repulsed in the battles of Imphal and Kohima between March and July 1944. These were brutal battles. In Kohima, the two sides were at one point separated by the width of a tennis court. A Commonwealth cemetery on Garrison Hill, Kohima, contains this epitaph (by John Maxwell Edmonds): ‘When You Go Home, Tell Them of Us, and Say/For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today’.
  • Ultimate sacrifice for India’s freedom: The memory of the almost 10 million battlefield deaths in the First World War and the 15 million or more who were killed fighting the Second World War is now honored in countries around the world on November 11, with nationwide silences and the laying of wreaths. Not so much in India apart from in Army cantonments and at the British Consulate in Kolkata even though over 1,61,000 men made the ultimate sacrifice for India’s freedom.

Conclusion

  • Seventy-five years after Independence, it is time to honor India’s immense contribution to the world wars and move it from a footnote in another country’s history to the main stage, where it belongs. These were India’s wars too.

Mains Question

Q. What role the Indian soldier played in Second world War? What are the issues regarding non recognition of contribution of Indian soldiers in world wars?

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Person in news: Dadabhai Naoroji

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dadabhai Naoroji

Mains level: Not Much

dadabhai

This year, 2022, marks the 130th anniversary of the election, in 1892, of the first person of Indian origin, Dadabhai Naoroji to the House of Commons.

Why in news?

  • Election of Rishi Sunak as British PM with a narrow majority has brought to focus Naoroji.
  • He too had won Finsbury seat as a MP with a three vote’s majority.

Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917)

  • Dadabhai Naoroji is well known as the “Grand Old Man of India” and “Unofficial Ambassador of India”.
  • He was a Liberal Party Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons, represnting Finsbury Central between 1892 and 1895.
  • He was the second person of Asian descent to be a British MP, the first being Anglo-Indian MP David Ochterlony Dyce Sombre.
  • He was an Indian political leader, merchant, scholar and writer who was served as 2nd, 9th, and 22nd President of the Indian National Congress from 1886 to 1887, 1893 to 1894 & 1906 to 1907.
  • His book Poverty and Un-British Rule in India brought attention to his theory of the Indian “wealth drain” into Britain.
  • He was also a member of the Second Communist International (1889).

Other works

  • Started the Rast Goftar Anglo-Gujarati Newspaper in 1854.
  • The manners and customs of the Parsees (Bombay, 1864)
  • The European and Asiatic races (London, 1866)
  • Admission of educated natives into the Indian Civil Service (London, 1868)
  • The wants and means of India (London, 1876)
  • Condition of India (Madras, 1882)

Influence on Gandhi and Jinnah

  • Before his Finsbury win, Naoroji met a young student of law in Inner Temple, 23-year-old Mohandas K Gandhi, and left an everlasting impact on the future leader.
  • He also met another aspiring lawyer then enrolled at Lincoln’s Inn — 16-year-old Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who was to serve for a while as Naoroji’s secretary.
  • Jinnah had the distinction of hearing Naoroji’s maiden speech in the House of Commons from the Visitors’ Gallery.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Person in news: Jayaprakash Narayan (JP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jaiprakash Narayan-JP

Mains level: Not Much

jp

Union Home Minister unveiled a 15-foot statue of Jayaprakash Narayan or JP on his 120th birth anniversary at the socialist icon’s birthplace, Sitab Diara village in Bihar’s Saran district.

Who was Jayaprakash Narayan?

  • JP was born in 1902 in Bihar’s Sitab Diara, a village prone to frequent-flooding, after which his family moved to a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Balia district.
  • He quit college to join the non-cooperation movement, before going to study at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was influenced by the ideas of Karl Marx.

Political affiliations

  • JP returned to India in 1929 and joined the freedom struggle and the Indian National Congress, upon the invitation of Jawaharlal Nehru and drawn by a speech by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
  • He went on to become the founding members of the Congress Socialist Party (CSP).
  • However after independence took it out of the Congress and formed the Socialist Party, which was merged with J B Kripalani’s Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party to form the Praja Socialist Party.

Dissociation from active politics

  • While Nehru was keen on JP joining the Union government, JP sought to distance himself from electoral politics, opting to focus on social causes instead.
  • He was disillusioned with political parties and called for communitarian democracy.
  • Parties, he believed, were centralized and susceptible to moral and financial corruption.

The JP movement

  • Students in Gujarat began demonstrating in late 1973, in response to mounting mess bills.
  • The protests became widespread in the state, with workers, teachers and several other groups joining in the movement, calling for a change in government.
  • JP saw the youth of Gujarat that had been able to bring about political change as an alternative route from electoral.
  • The protests against corruption grew widespread, and students of Bihar began their movement in March 1974.
  • The students approached JP, who left his self-imposed political exile and led the movement. At a rally in Patna he called for Sampoorna Kranti (Total Revolution).

Opposition to the Emergency

  • When Indira Gandhi imposed an Emergency on June 25, 1975, JP shifted his focus to opposing the authoritarian rule and opposition parties looked to him for leadership.
  • The Socialists were naturally drawn to him ideologically, while the RSS and its political front the Jana Sangh sought to return to the mainstream, and were happy to be dissolved into the Janata Party that JP had formed.
  • JP is celebrated for launching a popular, mass movement against the Indira Gandhi government, which led to the formation of the Janata Party government in the 1977 general election.
  • This was the first non-Congress government in the country.

Try this PYQ:

Who among the following were the founders of the “Hind Mazdoor Sabha” established in 1948?

(a) B. Krishna Pillai, E.M.S. Namboodiripad and K.C. George

(b) Jayaprakash Narayan, Deen Dayal Upadhyay and M.N. Roy

(c) C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, K. Kamaraj and Veeresalingam Pantulu

(d) Ashok Mehata, T.S. Ramanujan and G.G. Mehta

 

Post your answers here.
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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Places in news: Ram Setu

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ram Setu

Mains level: NA

ram setu

A movie has once again generated buzz around the chain of shoals off the southeast coast of India that many believe is the Ram Setu or the bridge to Lanka mentioned in the Ramayana.

The Ram Setu

  • The Ram Setu, also known as Adam’s Bridge, is a 48-km chain of limestone shoals between Rameswaram on India’s southeast coast and Mannar Island near Sri Lanka’s northwest coast.
  • The structure has significance in both Hindu and Muslim mythology – while Hindus believe this is the bridge (Setu) built by Lord Ram and his army to cross to Lanka and fight Ravan.
  • As per Islamic legend, Adam used this bridge to reach Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka, where he stood on one foot for 1,000 years in repentance.

Factual details of the bridge

  • Scientists believe Ram Setu is a natural structure formed due to tectonic movements and sand getting trapped in corals.
  • However, over the years, evidence has been offered to claim that the bridge is man-made.
  • The bridge is not entirely natural, Hindu right wing outfits argue, which proves that it was indeed built by Lord Ram.

When was the structure came into highlights?

  • The Ram Setu issue snowballed into a major controversy when the Sethusamudram Project, flagged off during the UPA I government.
  • The project aimed to reduce travel time between the eastern and western coasts of India, as ships would no longer have to circle Sri Lanka to travel between the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.
  • The project was perceived as an attack on Hindu sentiments.
  • Various studies have been proposed on the Ram Setu, with the most recent being in 2021, when the government approved an underwater research project to ascertain its origins.

Ecological arguments against the project

  • The Sethusamudram project has been opposed on environmental grounds.
  • Some claims that it will harm marine life, and that dredging of the line of shoals will make India’s coast more vulnerable to tsunamis.
  • In March 2018, the Centre told the Supreme Court that the Ram Setu will not be affected in the execution of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal project.

NASA images, and other proofs

  • Images of the Ram Setu clicked by NASA have been used over and over again to claim that this proves the existence of a man-made bridge.
  • NASA has repeatedly clarified that it does not agree with these claims.
  • Remote sensing images or photographs from orbit cannot provide direct information about the origin or age of a chain of islands.
  • It certainly cannot be determined whether humans were involved in producing any of the patterns seen.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Private: Who was activist-author Annabhau Sathe?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Annabhau Sathe

Mains level: Not Much

anna

Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister and other leaders are in Moscow to unveil the statue of Lok Shahir (balladeer) Annabhau Sathe at the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature.

Why in news?

  • Sathe’s work was immensely inspired by the Russian revolution and the Communist ideology.
  • He was a member of the Communist Party of India (CPI), and featured among the selected authors from India whose work was translated in Russian.

Who was Anna bhau Sathe?

  • Tukaram Bhaurao Sathe, who later came to be known as Annabhau Sathe, was born in a Dalit family on August 1, 1920 in Maharashtra’s Wategaon village in Satara district.
  • In 1930, his family left the village and came to Mumbai. Here, he worked as a porter, a hawker and even a cotton mill helper.
  • In 1934, Mumbai witnessed a workers’ strike under the leadership of Lal Bawta Mill Workers Union in which he participated.
  • During his days at the Matunga Labour Camp, he got to know R B More, an associate of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar in the famous ‘Chavdar Lake’ satyagraha at Mahad, and joined the labour study circle.
  • Being a Dalit, he was denied schooling in his village. It was during these study circles that he learned to read and write.

How did Anna start writing songs, ballads and books?

  • Sathe wrote his first poem on the menace of mosquitoes in the labour camp.
  • He formed Dalit Yuvak Sangh, a cultural group and started writing poems on workers’ protests, agitations.
  • The group used to perform in front of the mill gates.
  • Progressive Writers Association was formed at the national level at the same time with the likes of Premchand, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Manto, Ismat Chugtai, Rahul Sankrutyayan, Mulkraj Anand as its members.
  • The group would translate the Russian work of Maxim Gorky, Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev into Marathi, which Sathe got hooked on.
  • It not only had an ideological impact on him, but inspired him to write street plays, stories, novels etc. In 1939, he wrote his first ballad ‘Spanish Povada’.

How popular was his work?

  • Sathe and his group travelled across Mumbai campaigning for workers’ rights.
  • Out of the 49 years that he lived, Sathe, who began writing only after the age of 20, churned out 32 novels, 13 collections of short stories, four plays, a travelogue and 11 povadas (ballads).
  • Several of his works like ‘Aklechi Goshta,’ ‘Stalingradacha Povada,’ ‘Mazi Maina Gavavar Rahili,’ ‘Jag Badal Ghaluni Ghav’ were popular across the state.
  • Almost six of his novels were turned into films and many translated into other languages, including Russian.
  • His ‘Bangalchi Hak’ (Bengal’s Call) on the Bengal famine was translated into Bengali and later presented at London’s Royal Theatre.
  • His literature depicted the caste and class reality of Indian society of that time.

Left leanings

  • Sathe’s work was influenced by Marxism, but at the same time he brought out the harsh realities of the caste system.
  • In 1943, he formed the Lal Bawta Kala Pathak.
  • The group toured across Maharashtra presenting programmes on caste atrocities, class conflict, and workers’ rights.
  • He dedicated his most famous novel Fakira to Dr Ambedkar.

What was his Russian connection?

  • He was once called the Maxim Gorky of Maharashtra.
  • He was immensely inspired by Gorky’s ‘The Mother’ and the Russian revolution, which was reflected in his writings.
  • He travelled to Russia in 1961 along with a group of other Indians.

Is there a reason behind the statue being unveiled now?

  • Sathe belonged to the Matang community among Dalits.
  • With the Left failing to claim his artistic legacy, Sathe is now restricted as a symbol of a particular community.
  • The right wing is angling to claim the credit for making Sathe a global icon.
  • Installing Sathe’s oil painting at the Indian consulate at Moscow also shows that the central government is using this occasion to increase cultural dialogue between two countries.

 

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How India adopted its military flags and badges based on Lord Mountbatten’s suggestions?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Flags and defence insignia

Mains level: Not Much

The new Naval Ensign (flag), which will be unveiled by PM in Kochi, has brought into focus the flags and ranks adopted by the Indian military after Independence.

Do you know?

The octagonal shape with twin golden borders draws inspiration from the seal of the great Indian emperor, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, whose visionary maritime outlook established a credible naval fleet

Why in news?

  • Documents accessed from National Archives of India show that Lord Mountbatten, former Viceroy and Governor General of India, played a major role in suggesting new flags and rank badges.
  • This was when India was about to become a Republic on January 26, 1950.

When did India switch from British-era flags and ranks?

  • The switch from British-era flags and ranks took place when India became a Republic (26th Jan, 1950).
  • Prior to that the flags and badges of ranks of the military were of the British pattern.
  • The new, Indian pattern of flags of Army, Navy and Air Force, and also the Regimental Flags of the Army and badges of ranks of all three services were adopted on January 26, 1950.
  • The ‘Kings Commission’ granted to Indian military officers was also changed to ‘Indian Commission’ on the same date.
  • And at a subsequent date the King’s Colours of the various Regiments were laid to rest in Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun.

When did Lord Mountbatten come into the picture?

  • The national archives have files, dated 1949, that include a detailed note from Lord Mountbatten regarding names, flags and ranks of the armed forces, and then PM Nehru’s letter to the then Defence Minister Baldev Singh regarding Mountbatten’s suggestions.
  • The note, archives reveal, was given to Nehru by Lord Mountbatten when the two met in London.
  • The note was forwarded from the PM’s office to the office of then Governor General C Rajagopalachari on May 24, 1949, stating that it is on the issue of ‘Names and Insignia of Indian Armed Forces’ after India becomes a Republic.
  • The letter also stated that the note should be placed before the Governor General.

What did Lord Mountbatten say in the note?

  • The note begins by saying that consequent to becoming a Republic the word ‘Royal’ shall be dropped from India’s Army, Navy and Air Force.
  • Mountbatten strongly recommended that no other word like ‘State’ of ‘Republican’ should replace the word ‘Royal’.
  • This was because it would have the effect of separating the forces of India psychologically from the other services in the Commonwealth.
  • He further suggested in the letter that the Crown should be replaced from the insignias and replaced by the “three lions of Ashoka”.
  • Regarding the Naval Ensign, he said that all Commonwealth navies fly the same flag which consists of a large white flag with a red-cross and Union Jack in the upper corner nearer the staff and is known as the ‘White Ensign’.
  • The new Ensign, the note suggested, should continue to have the red-cross but the Indian national flag should replace the Union Jack.
  • He suggested this to maintain commonality with the Commonwealth flags.

What changes did Mountbatten suggest for uniforms?

  • He strongly urged that existing uniforms should be changed as little as possible.
  • He added that the Crown worn on badges of ranks of Majors and above should be replaced by the “three lions of Ashoka”.
  • The Star of the Order of the Bath should be replaced by Star of India or another form of star.
  • He also suggested that the crossed sword and baton on the badges of ranks of Generals should be retained.
  • The former Viceroy advocated retaining the stripes of rank in Navy and Air Force saying these were internationally almost the same.

How did the Indian government react to Mountbatten’s suggestions?

  • Nehru wrote to the then defence minister in September 1949 saying that he agreed with the suggestions made by the former Governor General that there should be as little change as possible.
  • The then PM particularly mentioned the changes suggested by Mountbatten for the Navy.
  • Then Governor General C Rajagopalachari also wrote back to Nehru in May 1949 itself agreeing to Mountbatten’s suggestions.
  • In the end, Mountbatten’s suggestions were virtually all accepted and implemented with effect from January 26, 1950.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Sittanavasal Rock Cave Temple

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sittanavasal

Mains level: NA

Sittanavasal

The Sittanavasal Rock Cave Temple, a major centre of Jain influence for 1,000 years just before the Christian era, is in need of better upkeep.

Sittanavasal

  • Sittanavasal is a small hamlet in Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu, India.
  • It is known for the Sittanavasal Cave, a 2nd-century Jain cave complex. From the 7th to the 9th century A.D., the village flourished as a Jain centre.
  • Sittanavasal is the name used synonymously for the hamlet and the hillock that houses the:
  1. Arivar Kovil (temple of Arihants — Jains who conquered their senses)
  2. Ezhadipattam (a cavern with 17 polished rock beds), megalithic burial sites and the
  3. Navachunai tarn (small mountain lake) with a submerged shrine

What makes it special?

  • The artwork on the ceiling of the sanctum and the ardha mandapam of Arivar Kovil is an early example of post-Ajanta cave paintings of the fourth to sixth centuries.
  • It was also done using the fresco-secco technique (a process that dispenses with preparation of the wall with wet plaster).

Features of the cave paintings

  • The ceiling paintings show ‘bhavyas’ (exalted souls who work to achieve moksha or spiritual liberation) enjoying themselves in a pool, full of lotuses; today much of it is obscured by patchy plastering.
  • Faint outlines linger of dancing girls on the ‘ardha mandapam’ pillars.
  • The colours are a mixture of plant dyes and mineral elements such as lime, lamp black, and clay pigments such as ochre for yellow and terre verte for the greyish-green tints.

Why in news now?

  • Unrestricted public access and general exposure to the elements have led to a gradual fading away of these paintings.
  • At the Ezhadipattam, inscriptions have been vandalised beyond recognition.

Also try this PYQ:

Q.There are only two known examples of cave paintings of the Gupta period in ancient India. One of these is paintings of Ajanta caves. Where is the other surviving example of Gupta paintings?

(a) Bagh caves

(b) Ellora caves

(c) Lomas Rishi cave

(d) Nasik caves

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

How Hyderabad became a part of India?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Hyderabad's accession into India

Mains level: Post-independence consolidation

The Government of India began its year-long celebrations for the ‘Telangana Liberation Day’ on September 17, marking how on the same day in 1948, the state of Hyderabad got its independence from Nizam’s rule, as said in a press release.

Why in news?

  • From 1911 to 1948, Nizam Mir Usman Ali, the last Nizam of Hyderabad, ruled the state composed of Telangana and parts of present-day Karnataka and Maharashtra (Marathwada).
  • While these states mark the Liberation Day officially, Telangana has never done so.

Hyderabad’s accession into India: A backgrounder

(1) Reluctance of Nizam

  • At the time of India’s independence, British India was a mix of independent kingdoms and provinces that were given the options of joining India, Pakistan, or remaining independent.
  • One among those who took a long time to make a decision was the Nizam of Hyderabad.
  • Believed to be one of the richest people in the world at the time, the Nizam was not ready to let go of his kingdom.

(2) Sufferings for the people

  • Meanwhile, the majority population of Hyderabad state was far from enjoying the same kind of wealth as the Nizam did.
  • The feudal nature of the state at the time caused the peasant population to suffer high taxes, indignities of forced labour, and various other kinds of exploitation at the hands of powerful landlords.

(3) Lingual friction

  • There was also a demand by the Andhra Jan Sangham for Telugu to be given primacy over Urdu.
  • By the mid-1930s, apart from a reduction in land revenue rates and the abolition of forced labour, introducing Telugu in local courts became another important issue.

(4) Mass movement

  • Soon after the organisation became the Andhra Mahasabha (AMS), and Communists became associated with it.
  • Together, the two groups built a peasant movement against the Nizam that found local support.

Who were the Razakars and the Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen?

  • By October 1946, the Nizam banned the AMS.
  • A close aide of the Nizam, Qasim Razvi, leader of the Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen, became closely involved in securing the Nizam’s position.
  • The Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen was a political outfit that sought a greater role for Muslims in the early 20th century, but after Razvi took over the organisation, it became extremist in its ideology.
  • It was under him that a militia of the ‘Razakars’ was formed to suppress the peasant and communist movement, launching a brutal attack.
  • Around this time, the Standstill Agreement was also signed between the Nizam and the Indian government in November 1947, declaring a status quo.
  • This meant that until November 1948, the Nizam could let things be as they were and not finalise a decision as negotiations with the Indian union continued.

How did the situation escalate to military action?

  • In the first half of 1948, tensions grew as the razakar leaders and the government in Hyderabad began to speak of war with India and began border raids with Madras and Bombay Presidencies.
  • As a response, India stationed troops around Hyderabad and began to ready itself for military intervention.

India commences Operation Polo

  • With the Nizam importing more arms and the violence of the Razakars approaching dangerous proportions, India officially launched ‘Operation Polo’ on September 9 and deployed its troops in Hyderabad four days later.
  • On September 17, three days after the deployment, the Nizam surrendered and acceded to the Indian Union in November.
  • India has decided to be generous and not punish the Nizam.
  • He was retained as the official ruler of the state and given a privy purse of five million rupees.

The legacy of Operation Polo

  • It has also been said that the army’s march into Hyderabad did not just target the razakars and the radical extremist forces.
  • A four-member goodwill mission led by Pandit Sunderlal was constituted by the then Prime Minister.
  • At the request of then PM Nehru, a month was spent in Hyderabad in November 1948 where evidence was gathered and at the end, a report was filed.
  • Estimated thousands of people died in communal violence during the military action.

Why debate now?

  • The debate about whether the day of independence was about integration into the Indian union after months of negotiations, or liberation from an autocratic monarch has continued.
  • Hyderabad’s history continues to affect today’s politics.
  • After Qasim Rizvi left India for Pakistan, the organisation was handed over to Abdul Wahed Owaisi, the grandfather of a present day Parliamentarian.
  • And communal-sectarian politics is storming up the city of Hyderabad leading to religious tensions.

 

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100 years of periyar because of whom tamil nadu became modern and progressive

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vaikom satyagraha

Mains level: Social reform movement in tamil nadu

PeriyarContext

  • We celebrate Periyar E.V. Ramasamy’s birth anniversary (September 17) as Social Justice Day.

Who is periyar?

  • Erode Venkatappa Ramasamy, revered as Periyar or Thanthai Periyar, was an Indian social activist and politician who started the Self-Respect Movement and Dravidar Kazhagam. He is known as the ‘Father of the Dravidian movement’. He rebelled against Brahminical dominance and gender and caste inequality in Tamil Nadu.

Who started self-respect movement?

  • The self-respect movement was founded by V.Ramaswamy Naicker, commonly known as Periyar. It was a dynamic social movement aimed at destroying the contemporary Hindu social order in its totality and creating a new, rational society without caste, religion and god.

PeriyarWhy Periyar is called as vaikom hero?

  • V. Ramasamy Periyar led the famous Vaikom Sathya Graha in 1924, where the people of down trodden community were prohibited to enter into the temple. Finally the Travancore government relaxed such segregation and allowed the people to enter into the temple. Hence periyar was given the title of ‘Vaikom Hero’.

Leadership at a critical juncture

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

PeriyarPeriyar’s role

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

His Vision for the future

  • Ideas on rationality: When he presented his thoughts, there was nuance, honesty, and an explicitness, which prompted even people practising different faiths to discuss and debate his ideas on rationality and religion.
  • Freedom of expression: Periyar himself said, “Everyone has the right to refute any opinion. But no one has the right to prevent its expression.”
  • Eradication of social evils: Periyar is often referred to as an iconoclast, for the rebellious nature of his ideas and the vigour with which he acted. His vision for the future was a part of all his actions. He did not merely aim at the eradication of social evils; he also wanted to put an end to activities that do not collectively raise standards of society.

Foundation of rationalism

  • He understood the evolution of political thought: Periyar’s vision was about inclusive growth and freedom of individuals. He was an important ideologue of his day because of the clarity in his political stand. More importantly, he understood the evolution of political thought and was able to glide through time with this.
  • He presented rationalism as a solid foundation: For thinking along these lines. He said, “Wisdom lies in thinking. The spearhead of thinking is rationalism.” Periyar was way ahead of his time.
  • Concern towards poor: “Whomsoever I love and hate, my principle is the same. That is, the educated, the rich and the administrators should not suck the blood of the poor.”
  • Periyar proclaimed that he would always stand with the oppressed: In the fight against oppressors and that his enemy was oppression. There have been several social reformers in Tamil Nadu who shared their revolutionary thoughts with the people in the past century. In that spectrum, Periyar occupies a unique place because he made interactions of multiple worlds possible.

Periyar said, “Any opposition not based on rationalism or science or experience, will one day or other, reveal the fraud, selfishness, lies, and conspiracies.”

Conclusion

  • His works against the Bhraminical dominance, oppression of women in Tamil Nadu, caste prevalence are exemplary. Periyar promoted the principles of rationalism, self-respect, women’s rights and eradication of caste. He opposed the exploitation and marginalisation of the people of South India and the imposition of what he considered Indo-Aryan India.

Mains question

Q.Discuss the future vision of periyar by discussing his role in vaikom satyagraha. Do you think he has placed foundation of rationalism in Tamil Nadu?

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Who was Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker

Mains level: NA

Arattupuzha

A recently-released Malayalam film Pathonpatham Noottandu (‘Nineteenth Century’) is based on the life of Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker, a social reformer from the Ezhava community in Kerala who lived in the 19th century.

Who was Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker?

  • Born into a well-off family of merchants in Kerala’s Alappuzha district, Panicker was one of the most influential figures in the reformation movement in the state.
  • He challenged the domination of upper castes or ‘Savarnas’ and brought about changes in the lives of both men and women.
  • The social reform movement in Kerala in the 19th century led to the large-scale subversion of the existing caste hierarchy and social order in the state.
  • Panicker was murdered by a group of upper-caste men in 1874 at the age of 49. This makes him the ‘first martyr’ of the Kerala renaissance.

What was Panicker’s role in initiating social reforms?

  • Panicker is credited with building two temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, in which members of all castes and religions were allowed entry.
  • One was built in his own village Arattupuzha in 1852, and one in Thanneermukkom in 1854, another village in the Alappuzha district.
  • Some of his most significant contributions were in protesting for the rights of women belonging to Kerala’s backward communities.
  • In 1858, he led the Achippudava Samaram strike at Kayamkulam in Alappuzha.
  • This strike aimed to earn women belonging to oppressed groups the right to wear a lower garment that extended beyond the knees.
  • In 1859, this was extended into the Ethappu Samaram, the struggle for the right to wear an upper body cloth by women belonging to backward castes.
  • In 1860, he led the Mukkuthi Samaram at Pandalam in the Pathanamthitta district, for the rights of lower-caste women to wear ‘mukkuthi’ or nose-ring, and other gold ornaments.
  • These struggles played an important role in challenging the social order and in raising the dignity of women belonging to the lower strata of society in public life.

Other work

  • Apart from issues related to women, Panicker also led the first-ever strike by agricultural labourers in Kerala, the Karshaka Thozhilali Samaram, which was successful.
  • He also established the first Kathakali Yogam for the Ezhava community in 1861, which led to a Kathakali performance by Ezhavas and other backward communities, another first for them.

Try this PYQ:

Q. The Shri Narayan Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) Movement(1902-03) was related to which of the following community?

a) Mopilla Community

b) South Indian Tea Planters

c) Ezhava Community in Kerala

d) North Eastern Tea Planters

 

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Who was Dara Shikoh?

dara shikoh

The Vice President has released the Arabic Version of “Majma Ul-Bahrain” of Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh.

The course of the history of the Indian subcontinent, had Dara Shikoh prevailed over Aurangzeb, has been a matter of some conjecture among historians. Critically analyse.

Who was Dara Shikoh?

  • Dara Shikoh, who was Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s son and expected heir, was killed on the orders of his brother Aurangzeb in 1659 after losing the war of succession.
  • He was the eldest son and heir-apparent of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.
  • Dara was designated with the title Padshahzada-i-Buzurg Martaba (Prince of High Rank) and was favored as a successor by his father and his older sister, Princess Jahanara Begum.
  • In the war of succession which ensued after Shah Jahan’s illness in 1657, Dara was defeated by his younger brother Prince Muhiuddin (Aurangzeb).
  • He was executed in 1659 on Aurangzeb’s orders in a bitter struggle for the imperial throne.

His legacy

  • Dara was a liberal-minded unorthodox Muslim as opposed to the orthodox Aurangzeb.
  • He authored the work Majma Ul-Bahrain (The Confluence of the Two Seas), which argues for the harmony of Sufi philosophy in Islam and Vedanta philosophy in Hinduism.
  • It was Dara Shikoh who was responsible for making the Upanishads available to the West as he had them translated.
  • He had commissioned a translation of Yoga Vasistha.
  • A great patron of the arts, he was also more inclined towards philosophy and mysticism rather than military pursuits.
  • He translated the Upanishads and other important works from Sanskrit to Persian. He was convinced that the Upanishads are what the Qur’an calls ‘Al-Kitab Al-Maknoun’ (The Hidden book).

Try this PYQ:

Q.Who among the following Mughal Emperors shifted emphasis from illustrated manuscripts to album and individual portrait?

(a) Humayun

(b) Akbar

(c) Jahangir

(d) Shah Jahan

 

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Subash Chandra Bose

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Indian national army particuars

Mains level: Modern Indian history developments

boseContext

  • In the year of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the nation pays tribute to Subhas Bose on September 8 as his statue rises tall next to India Gate.

Crux of this article in simple words

  • The transfer of power to India took place on August 15, 1947. Had Bose and his Indian National Army (INA) succeeded, India would have attained freedom, not inherited it through a transfer of power.

Brief of historical account of his career

  • Bose was the ninth child in 14 and the sixth son to Janakinath Bose, a lawyer from the Kayasth caste.
  • He passed matriculation in 1913 from Cuttack and joined the Presidency College in Kolkata (then Calcutta).
  • The teachings of Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramhansa led to a spiritual awakening in Bose at the young age of 15.
  • Subhash Chandra Bose reached Singapore on July 2, 1943, at the invitation of Rash Behari Bose. He took charge as the President of the Indian Independence League and took over as the leader for East Asia.
  • On October 23 1943, with the help of the Japanese Army, Netaji declared war on the United States and Britain.
  • He was fondly called Netaji and was arrested 11 times in his freedom struggle and died under mysterious circumstances in an air crash over Taipei.

boseHis vision for INA march in India

  • Creating revolutionary conditions: Bose had hoped to capture Imphal. That would give the INA a large number of Indian soldiers. Once this was achieved, fighting in India would create revolutionary conditions.
  • Organization of INA divisions at border: When the fighting commenced, the INA had only one division stationed on India’s borders. Another was on the move towards Burma. And the third was in the process of formation. All three divisions were expected to be in Burma by the time Imphal fell.
  • Rapid invasion from north east: Bose was confident of raising three more divisions from among the Indian troops that would fall to him after the capture of Imphal. With six divisions, the INA would be the single largest force in the region. The rapid advance into India would create the right conditions for the Indian army to switch sides along with the people of the Northeast.

His famous quotes for value addition

“It is our duty to pay for our liberty with our own blood.”

“No great change in history has ever been achieved by discussions”

boseAzad Hind Radio

  • This radio station was created to encourage countrymen to fight for freedom under the leadership of Subhas Chandra Bose.
  • The radio station used to broadcast news at weekly intervals in various languages like English, Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, Urdu, etc.
  • The main aim for the formation of the Azad Hind Radio was to counter the broadcast of allied radio stations and to fill Indian nationals with pride and motivation to fight for freedom.

The Rani Jhansi Regiment

  • Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was a firm believer of women’s power and women were also greatly inspired by his words.
  • He had always wanted to form an only women’s regiment and his dream came to fruition with the formation of the Rani Jhansi Regiment on 12th July 1943.
  • About 170 women cadets joined the force and their training camp was set in Singapore.
  • They were given ranks according to their educational background.
  • By November of 1943, this unit had more than 300 cadets as camps were also established in Rangoon and Bangkok.
  • The women cadets were given military and combat training, weapons training, and route marches. Some of them were also chosen for advanced training and some were also chosen for training as a nurse.
  • The Rani Jhansi Regiment mainly worked as care and relief givers.
  • The unit later disbanded after the fall of Rangoon and the withdrawal of the Azad Hind Government.

Conclusion

  • Bose maintained that the Congress leaders wanted freedom in their lifetime. He believed that no revolutionary leader had the right to expect that. A movement, a fight, had to be passed on. Expecting freedom in one’s lifetime was bound to lead to compromises.

 

Mains question

Q. Netaji Subhas Bose was an exceptional leader who turned his vision into action. Critically analyse.

 

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Martand Temple in Kashmir

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Martand Sun Temple

Mains level: Not Much

In May this year, some pilgrims offered prayers inside the Martand Temple, an Archaeological Survey of India-protected (ASI) monument

About Martand Sun Temple

  • The Martand Sun Temple is a Hindu temple located near the city of Anantnag in the Kashmir Valley.
  • It dates back to the eighth century AD and was dedicated to Surya, the chief solar deity.
  • The temple was destroyed by Sikandar Shah Miri in a bid to undertake mass conversion and execution of Hindus in the valley.
  • According to Kalhana, the Temple was commissioned by Lalitaditya Muktapida in the eighth century AD.
  • The temple is built on top of a plateau from where one can view whole of the Kashmir Valley.
  • From the ruins the visible architecture seems to be blended with the Gandharan, Gupta and Chinese forms of architecture.

Why in news now?

  • According to ASI, prayers are allowed at its protected sites only if they were “functioning places of worship” at the time it took charge of them.
  • No religious rituals can be conducted at non-living monuments where there has been no continuity of worship when it became an ASI-protected site.

What are the living/non-living monument?

  • If some activity, like any kind of worship, has been going on for years in the structure, then it is taken over as a living monument.
  • But where no activity has taken place, say an abandoned building, then it is declared a dead monument.
  • The latter is difficult to restore because it is generally covered by a lot of overgrowth.
  • The best-known example of a living ASI monument is the Taj Mahal in Agra, where namaz is held every Friday.

 

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Pandurang Khankhoje: Ghadarite revolutionary and a hero of Mexico

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pandurang Khankhoje

Mains level: Ghadr party

Lok Sabha Speaker, who is currently in Canada for the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, will travel to Mexico where he will unveil statues of Swami Vivekananda and Maharashtra-born freedom fighter and agriculturalist Pandurang Khankhoje.

Who was Pandurang Khankhoje (1883-1967)?

  • Born in Wardha, Maharashtra, in the late 19th century, Pandurang Khankhoje came in contact with other revolutionaries early on.
  • As a student, Khankhoje was an ardent admirer of the French Revolution and of the American War of Independence.
  • Closer to home, the Hindu reformer Swami Dayanand and his Arya Samaj movement, which called for a spirit of reform and social change, became the hero to a young student group led by Khankhoje.

Revolutionary activities abroad

  • Khankhoje decided to go abroad for further training in revolutionary methods and militaristic strategy.
  • At this time, the British government’s suspicions of him were also growing due to his anti-government activities.
  • Before leaving, he visited Bal Gangadhar Tilak, by whom he was inspired.
  • Tilak advised him to go to Japan, which was itself a strong, anti-West Asian imperialistic force then.
  • After spending time with nationalists from Japan and China, Khankhoje eventually moved to the US, where he enrolled in college as a student of agriculture.

Participation in the Indian independence movement

  • Khankhoje was one of the founding members of the Ghadar Party, established by Indians living abroad in 1914, mostly belonging to Punjab.
  • Its aim was to lead a revolutionary fight against the British in India.
  • While in the US, Khankhoje met Lala Har Dayal, an Indian intellectual teaching at Stanford University.
  • Har Dayal had begun a propaganda campaign, publishing a newspaper that featured patriotic songs and articles in the vernacular languages of India.
  • This was the seed from which the Ghadar Party would emerge.

How did Khankhoje reach Mexico?

  • At the military academy, Khankhoje met many people from Mexico.
  • The Mexican Revolution of 1910 had led to the overthrow of the dictatorial regime, and this inspired Khankhoje.
  • He also reached out to Indians working on farms in the US with the aim of discussing the idea of Indian independence with them.
  • Along with the Indian workers, militant action was planned by Khankhoje in India, but the outbreak of the First World War halted these plans.
  • He then reached out to Bhikaji Cama in Paris, and met with Vladimir Lenin in Russia among other leaders, seeking support for the Indian cause.

Association with Mexico

  • As he was facing possible deportation from Europe and could not go to India, he sought shelter in Mexico.
  • Soon, in part due to his prior friendship with Mexican revolutionaries, he was appointed a professor at the National School of Agriculture in Chapingo, near Mexico City.
  • He researched corn, wheat, pulses and rubber, developing frost and drought-resistant varieties, and was part of efforts to bring in the Green Revolution in Mexico.
  • Later on, the American agronomist Dr Norman Borlaug, called the Father of the Green Revolution in India, brought the Mexican wheat variety to Punjab.
  • Khankhoje was revered as an agricultural scientist in Mexico.

Return to India

  • Both Pandurang and Jean returned to India after 1947.
  • His application for visa was initially rejected by the Indian government due to the ban by the British Indian Government, but was eventually overturned.
  • He settled in Nagpur and subsequently embarked on a political career.
  • Pandurang Khankhoje died on 22 January 1967.

Back2Basics: Ghadar Party

Founder: Sohan Singh Bhakna, 15 July 1913

  • The Ghadar Movement was an early 20th century, international political movement founded by expatriate Indians to overthrow British rule in India.
  • Earlier activists had established a ‘Swadesh Sevak Home’ in Vancouver and a ‘United India House’ in Seattle to carry out revolutionary activities. Finally, in 1913, the Ghadr was founded.
  • The Ghadar Party, originally known as the Pacific Coast Hindustan Association, was founded on July 15, 1913 in the US by Lala Har Dayal, Sant Baba Wasakha Singh Dadehar, Baba Jawala Singh, Santokh Singh, and Sohan Singh Bhakna.
  • The Ghadar party drew a sizable following among Indian expatriates in the United States, Canada, East Africa, and Asia.
  • It fought against colonialism from 1914 to 1917, with the support of Imperial Germany and the Ottoman Empire, both of which were Central Powers opposed to the British.
  • The party was organized around the weekly newspaper The Ghadar, which featured the masthead caption: Angrezi Raj Ka Dushman (an enemy of British rule); “Wanted brave soldiers to stir up rebellion in India,” the Ghadar declared.

 

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Tribute to women freedom fighters

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Freedom fighters in news

Mains level: Feminist contribution in freedom struggle

Context

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech underlined the role of women veeranganas in our freedom movement. The initiative highlighting the brave women of our freedom struggle, under the broader celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, will mark a turning point in Indian feminist history writing from an Indic perspective.

What veerangana means?

  • Veerangana means a brave female, someone who can fight for their rights. A strong woman not only protects herself, but protects others too.

Veerangana’s in freedom struggle

Rani Laxmibai

  • The queen of the princely state of Jhansi, Rani Laxmibai is known for her role in the First War of India’s Independence in 1857.
  • Refusing to cede her territory, the queen decided to rule on behalf of the heir, and later joined the uprising against the British in 1857.
  • Cornered by the British, she escaped from Jhansi fort. She was wounded in combat near Gwalior’s Phool Bagh, where she later died.
  • Sir Hugh Rose, who was commanding the British army, is known to have described her as “personable, clever…and one of the most dangerous Indian leaders”.

Jhalkari Bai

  • A soldier in Rani Laxmibai’s women’s army, Durga Dal, she rose to become one of the queen’s most trusted advisers.
  • She is known for putting her own life at risk to keep the queen out of harm’s way.
  • Till date, the story of her valour is recalled by the people of Bundelkhand, and she is often presented as a representative of Bundeli identity.

Durga Bhabhi

  • Durgawati Devi, who was popularly known as Durga Bhabhi, was a revolutionary who joined the armed struggle against colonial rule.
  • A member of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, she helped Bhagat Singh escape in disguise from Lahore after the 1928 killing of British police officer John P Saunders.
  • Later, as revenge for the hanging of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev, she made an unsuccessful attempt to kill the former Punjab Governor, Lord Hailey.

Rani Gaidinliu

  • Born in 1915 in present-day Manipur, Rani Gaidinliu was a Naga spiritual and political leader who fought the British.
  • She joined the Heraka religious movement which later became a movement to drive out the British. She rebelled against the Empire, and refused to pay taxes, asking people to do the same.
  • The British launched a manhunt, but she evaded arrest, moving from village to village.
  • Gaidinliu was finally arrested in 1932 when she was just 16, and later sentenced for life. She was released in 1947.
  • Then PM Nehru described Gaidinliu as the “daughter of the hills”, and gave her the title of ‘Rani’ for her courage.

Rani Chennamma

  • The queen of Kittur, Rani Chennamma, was among the first rulers to lead an armed rebellion against British rule.
  • Kittur was a princely state in present-day Karnataka.
  • She fought back against the attempt to control her dominion in 1824 after the death of her young son. She had lost her husband, Raja Mallasarja, in 1816.
  • She is seen among the few rulers of the time who understood the colonial designs of the British.
  • Rani Chennamma defeated the British in her first revolt, but was captured and imprisoned during the second assault by the East India Company.

Begum Hazrat Mahal

  • After her husband, Nawab of Awadh Wajid Ali Shah, was exiled after the 1857 revolt, Begum Hazrat Mahal, along with her supporters, took on the British and wrested control of Lucknow.
  • She was forced into a retreat after the colonial rulers recaptured the area.

Velu Nachiyar

  • Many years before the revolt of 1857, Velu Nachiyar waged a war against the British and emerged victorious. Born in Ramanathapuram in 1780, she was married to the king of Sivagangai.
  • After her husband was killed in battle with the East India Company, she entered the conflict, and won with support of neighbouring kings.
  • She went on to produce the first human bomb as well as establish the first army of trained women soldiers in the late 1700s.
  • Her army commander Kuyili is believed to have set herself ablaze and walked into a British ammunition dump.
  • She was succeeded by her daughter in 1790, and died a few years later in 1796.

Conclusion

  • The veeranganas are a potent symbol of nationalism and patriotism. They can overturn oppressive attitudes towards women in society. Their role and celebration in popular culture also refutes the colonial allegations about the suppression of women throughout Indian history. But it is essential to discover, rewrite and reinterpret the role and representation of these heroic women in the liberation of the motherland.

 

Mains question

Q. The veerangana’s are a potent symbol of nationalism and patriotism. They can overturn oppressive attitudes towards women in society. Discuss examples of them showing how they inspire women’s today.

 

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Who was Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India who partitioned Bengal in 1905?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Partition of Bengal, Lord Curzon

Mains level: Partition of Bengal and its aftermath

The 119-year-old Curzon Gate in Bardhaman in West Bengal is at the centre of a political row.

Who was Lord Curzon?

  • Born in 1859, Curzon was a British conservative politician who was educated at the elite institutions of Eton and Oxford.
  • He served as Under-Secretary of State for India (1891-1892), and for Foreign Affairs (1895-1898), before being appointed Viceroy of India in 1899.
  • As viceroy, his administration was known for intense activity and emphasis on efficiency.
  • He stated in his budget speech in 1904, “Efficiency of administration is, in my view, a synonym for the contentment of the governed”.

Rise to infame

  • Of all the Viceroys of India, Curzon is possibly the most criticised — he is the man who partitioned Bengal in 1905, and triggered a wave of Bengali nationalism that contributed to the wider Indian national movement.
  • He was also one of the more openly imperialist of viceroys, and a man who saw Britain’s rule over India as critical to the survival of empire.
  • In 1900, Curzon famously stated, “We could lose all our [white settlement] dominions and still survive, but if we lost India, our sun would sink to its setting.”

His works

  • Curzon created a separate Muslim majority province of the North-West Frontier Province, sent a British expedition to Tibet and established a separate police service.
  • He was instrumental in establishing the Archaeological Survey of India, in order to study and protect historical monuments.
  • Early on in his career, Curzon earned some praise from his colonial subjects for taking action against Europeans in a number of high-profile racist attacks against Indians.
  • In 1899, he punished white soldiers for raping a woman in Rangoon; he disciplined soldiers of the 9th Lancers for beating an Indian cook in Sialkot to death in 1902.
  • He had tried unsuccessfully to get the Calcutta High Court to change the meagre punishment given to an Assam tea manager for murdering a “coolie”.

Why was he disliked then?

  • Curzon was both vexed and enraged by the growing nationalist movement in India and he sought to throttle the growing aspirations of the educated Indian middle class.
  • A staunch imperialist, he took a series of extremely unpopular measures, including passing, in 1899, the Calcutta Municipal Amendment Act.
  • He reduced the number of elected representatives in the Calcutta Corporation.
  • Among others was the Indian Universities Act (1904), that placed Calcutta University under government control, and the Indian Official Secrets Amendment Act (1904) which reduced the freedom of the press even further.
  • Ironically though, it was his biggest and most reviled decision — to partition Bengal in 1905 — that led to a spurt in nationalist sentiment and revitalized the Congress.

How and why did the partition of Bengal take place?

  • Calcutta was the capital of the British Raj, and Bengal Presidency was one of the largest provinces in India, populated by more than 78 million people.
  • It was such a huge province encompassing present-day West Bengal, Bangladesh, Bihar, parts of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Assam.
  • For long, the British had maintained that Bengal was too large to efficiently manage and administer; it was also believed that with Calcutta as the nerve centre of the educated nationalists, the resistance to colonial rule would only increase.
  • Home Secretary H H Risley noted in 1904, “Bengal united is a power; Bengal divided will pull in several different ways.

Actual course of Partition

  • In July 1905, Curzon announced the partition of Bengal into two provinces.
  • East Bengal and Assam, with a population of 38 million, was predominately Muslim, while the western province, called Bengal, and was reduced to 55 million people, primarily Hindus.
  • Protests began almost immediately after the announcement, with meetings taking place in more than 300 cities, towns, and villages across Bengal.

What were the consequences of the partition?

  • In opposition to the partition, nationalist leaders organized a campaign a boycott British goods and institutions and encouraged the use of local products.
  • After a formal resolution was passed at a meeting in Calcutta in August 1905, the Swadeshi movement began.
  • Students were at the forefront of the movement, which was characterized by boycotts of British educational institutions and law courts, and large bonfires of imported cotton textiles.
  • There was a surge in nationalist rhetoric, and the song ‘Bande Mataram’, set to music by Rabindranath Tagore, became the informal anthem of the movement.
  • The Swadeshi movement and boycott was not restricted to Bengal, and spread to other parts of the country, including Punjab, Maharashtra, and parts of the Madras Presidency.
  • A number of secret societies, such as the Anushilan Samiti of Bengal, sought to overthrow British rule through violent means.
  • Revolutionary groups used bombs, attempted to assassinate colonial officials, and engaged in armed robberies to finance their activities.

(Irreversible) Revocation of the Partition

  • In 1905, Curzon resigned and returned to England after losing a power struggle with the commander-in-chief of the British Army, Lord Kitchener.
  • The protests continued after his exit, and the colonial government in 1911 announced the reunification of Bengal.
  • Thenceforth the capital of the Raj was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi.

 

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