The Bloody Tower – A Brief Account

History

The Bloody Tower was one of the many towers that together constituted the Tower of London Complex. It was built in the early 1220s as part of the first wave of modifications of the Tower of London under the watchful gaze of King Henry III. The Tower was originally named Garden Tower because the upper storey opened on the parade ground which was formerly the Constable’s Garden. Notable people who suffered imprisonment and death include the Tudor Archbishop Cranmer, Bishops Ridley and Latimer, Protestant martyrs, a Lord Chancellor and Sir Walter Raleigh. Later on, the tower became synonymous with a gruesome murder that stained its legacy forever.

The Murder and noteworthy suspects 

The then thirteen-year-old Edward V and his brother, Richard Duke of York, were confined to the tower on the orders of their uncle, who was later crowned King Richard III. The mystery surrounding the tower continues to fascinate as well as baffle historians to this day. On one such fateful day in 1483, the Yorkist princes completely disappeared off the face of the earth, never to be heard of again. It is believed that the princes were killed in cold blood by their uncle. Since they were next in line to the throne, others vying for the royal seat viewed them as inconvenient roadblocks that needed to be obliterated. Richard was away from court on a progression through the Yorkist heartlands at the time the princes disappeared. If they had truly died at that time, he would have been unable to murder them in person. Instead, he must have dispatched one of his men to do the deed.

However, revisionists argue that Richard was portrayed as the villain owing to Tudor propaganda and that his successor, Henry VII, had the same reason for removing the two boys.

Some, regard Buckingham as a very plausible suspect since he had a number of potential motives. After his rebellion against Richard in October 1483 and his subsequent execution, it could be surmised that he and the king had fallen out, possibly due to Richard’s decision to murder the princes without Buckingham’s knowledge.

Many years hence, in 1674, bones presumed to belong to the young brothers were found when a staircase leading to the White Tower was demolished. The bones were later removed at the command of Charles II.

In popular culture 

According to local legends, the tower is haunted by the young boys’ spirits. Guards in the late fifteenth century had reported that when they passed the Bloody Tower, they caught sight of the shadows of two small figures, gliding down the stairs, still wearing the white nightshirts they had on the night they disappeared. The mystery of the Princes in the Tower has spawned best-selling novels such as Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time and four novels in Philippa Gregory’s Cousins’ War series, which has attracted the attention of historians and novelists alive. 

Presently, the tower is a popular tourist destination. The stories surrounding it piques the curiosity of many individuals, luring them to the enigma that the tower poses.

History of Indian Stamps

India got independence on 15th August of 1947 assured in a new era in the history of the country but philatelist had to wait another 98 days for the release of India’s most commemorate stamp on 21st of November 1947.

First stamp

The Postal Telegraph Department however came out with a large Kashi postmarked with the slogan “Jai hind” for the occasion and letters mailed that the major post offices of the country were cancelled with this post mark.

The India’s first commemorative stamp features the Lion capital of Ashoka which had one set on the top of a column of Sarnath near Varanasi. The lion capital has since been around at the state emblem of India the denomination of the stamp was one and a half annas and an inspiration of “Jai hind” in Hindi was also depicted in the stamps.

Other stamps

Actually three stamps were planned to release at the time of Independence. The rest two stamps were released in the 15th of December 1947 with the three and a half annas stamp with portray of the national flag in tricolor Saffron on the top, white in the middle and green in the bottom.

The twelve annas stamp depicts an aircraft a symbol of the modern age. These stamps also have inscription “Jai hind” in hindi, they are also known are Jai Hind stamps.

The stamps were printed offset lithography. As the three and a half annas stamp was printed in three colors in three steps because difference in inking at different stages, because specimens having the top of the flag in deep orange or pale orange and the lower part in pale green and deep green were coming across.

COLONIAL ARCHITECTURE AND THE MODERN PERIOD OF INDIA

The colonial influence in Indian architecture can be seen in office buildings. The British people from the 16th century have constructed several churches and other buildings. Basilica Bom Jesus and the church of Saint Francis are the most famous churches built by the Portuguese in Goa. Many administrative and residential buildings are built by the British in India. We can also see the influence of Greek and Roman in the colonnades and pillared buildings. Rashtrapati Bhavan, formerly the Viceroy’s residence was designed by the architect Lutyens. Writers’ Building in Calcutta, where several governmental officers worked in the British period is still the administrative center of Bengal after independence. The church buildings like St. Paul’s Cathedral in Calcutta are another design in the British period. They also left their impressions by building the railway terminals like Victoria Terminus in Mumbai. The French architect Corbusier had designed several buildings that are built on Chandigarh. The India International Centre in Delhi where conferences are held by leading intellectuals from all over the world is designed by the Austrian architect, Stein. In the past few decades, several Indian architects have emerged. Charles Correa and Raj Rewal are the architects of this generation.

CHENNAI:

Chennai, formerly known as Madras is one of the four metropolitan cities of India. The city has become the seat of Madras Presidency, the southern division of British Imperial India by the 19th century. The city had become the capital of Madras state in 1947. Later, the madras state was replaced by Tamil Nadu in 1968. Various cathedrals, buildings, and wide tree-lined avenues at Chennai influence the colonial period. The High Court Building, built in 1892, during the British period was said to be the largest judicial building in the world after the Courts of London. To store enormous blocks of ice cut from the Great Lakes in the northern USA in India, Icehouse was built during the colonial period. The Church of St. John that had wide Gothic arches and beautiful stained-glass windows is the beautiful structure of that period. The General post office in Chennai is built-in 1872. The General Post Office has a vast central hall with a high dome. The first English fortress in India, Fort St George is found in the coastal city of madras.

MUMBAI:

Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra is located on the west coast of India. The city of Mumbai has come to light by the arrival of the British in the 17th century. It was known as Bombay. It is the first city in India to have railways. Also, it was the city where the newspaper came into existence. During the end of the 19th century, many buildings were constructed in Bombay in Victorian Gothic Style. The Secretariat, the Council Hall, and Elphinstone College were built in the above-mentioned style. The most impressive style was the massive railway construction in 1887, Victoria Terminus (modern Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus). It looks more like a cathedral than a railway station. To honor the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India, the famous Gateway of India was built. Since independence, Mumbai has continued to be India’s leading commercial and industrial city. The stock exchange, business centers, film industry named Bollywood, and anything that comes under modernization and westernization is all started in Bombay.

DELHI:

Delhi was founded by Raju Dhilu and Ptolemy, the geographer who marked Delhi in his map as Daidala. Today, Delhi is one of the largest cities not only in India but in the whole world. After the period of Tomars, Chauhans built the city named Qila Rai Pithora in Lal Kot, Mehrauli. The famous Qutub Minar is finished by Iltutmish which was started by Qutb-ud-din. The Siri fort exists in Delhi and currently, this area in Delhi is known as Shahpur Jat. After some years, Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq constructed the city called Tughlaqabad. After the death of Ghiyasuddin, the earlier cities of Delhi into a single unit and were named Jahanpanah by Mohammed Bin Tughlaq. Firoz Shah constructed Firozabad, located near Firoz Shah Kotla. The Mughal ruler Humayun built the Dinpanah on the mound of ancient Indraprastha. Shah Jehan, the grandson of Humayun started building the Red Fort in 1639 and finished it in 1648. Nearly for 24 Sufis, Delhi is the hometown. After the Mughal rule in Delhi, the British occupied Delhi after defeating the Marathas in 1803. The Parliament House and the North and South Blocks, the India Gate, and the Viceroy house were all made to impress the Indian subjects of the British rule. Delhi has become an important commercial, cultural, and political center of India. Museums, beautiful parks, flyovers, the Metro, a beautiful airport, educational centers, massive buildings, big wholesale markets, large malls, major industries, etc. all contribute to male Delhi as an outstanding city.

Introducing Skateboarding in Olympics

In recent history, skateboarding has become a pop culture phenomenon. We see it in everything, from T.V advertisements to fashion shows. And for the first time ever, skateboarding will be introduced in the 2020 summer Olympics. But, skateboarding hasn’t always had the mass appeal we see today.

Brief history

Sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s, skateboarding was born out of the boredom of surfers when the waves were no good. They would remove the wheels from the roller skates and attach them to a piece of wood to create a skateboard.

By the 1960s, skateboarding’s popularity has grown with rise of surf culture. Contest were held all over and the first sponsored skateboarders were beginning to emerge. However, the popularity of skating in the 60’s dropped just as fast as it rose.

The 1970’s brought along one with the most important changes to the skateboarding world, the advent of the Urethane wheel, which allows skaters to ride faster are over rougher types of ground than ever before.

In 1976, a horrible drought in southern California forced most homeowners with backyard swimming pools to drain them, giving way to birthplace of pool skating. This was the first major shift in how people rode there skateboards. No longer were they limited to the abysmal, flat grounds of parking lots and sidewalks.

The 1980s were a time of Renaissance in skateboarding. People were constantly inventing new tricks, pros were earning unheard of amounts if money, and skateboarder-own companies were thriving.

The vert

The favourable terrain for most of this era was vert. And even though there was a high level of progression occurring, to the untrained eye, skateboarding had gone stale and the popularity once again fell flat.

This lull in skateboarding led to the introduction of street skating which brings us into the 1990s. Skating during the era was at its most raw. Skaters took to the streets, to find new terrain, abandoning traditional skaters parks for something that felt more natural and could be done anywhere, by anyone.

Popularity

Skating things that occur almost anywhere, like sets of stairs, handrails, benches, curbs, and just about anywhere four wheels can roll. From there, skateboarding has been a nonstop, uphill climb to what it is today.

At its core, skateboarding has traditionally been for the underdogs, the outcasts, the misfits, and in result has been thought of negatively by a large major of its existence. But now, with generation of young adults who grew up with skateboarding and the exposure at an all-time high, the future of skateboarding is looking bright.

Mountain of light: Kohinoor

Kohinoor, which means mountain of light, is a colourless Diamond which was discovered in the mines of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh somewhere in the 13th century. It was the biggest Diamond ever known to mankind during that time.

Currently, this Diamond is embedded in the Queen’s Mother’s crown. Governments of India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan have all claimed the ownership of this Diamond, but the UK governments has denied it stating that it was obtained legally.

Journey

Kohinoor has rich history behind it, though it is generally believed that this Diamond was discovered in 13th century during the kakatiya dynasty rule. There are scholars who dispute saying that the Diamond was discovered in the 16th century in Golconda. Kohinoor was taken by Alauddin Khilji who’s army defeated the Kakatiya dynasty.

It was with the Mughals most of the time after it’s discovery. However, Mughal lost the battle against Nadirshah in 17th century. It was Nadirshah who took the diamond from the Mughals and named it Kohinoor. After Nadirshah’s death, the diamond was passed on to Ahmad Shah Durrani who was his General.

After that Kohinoor was later gifted to Ranjit Singh by the Durrani dynasty during early 18th century. However, British East India Company defeated Ranjit Singh’s army in mid 18th century and took possession of this Diamond. Kohinoor was later shipped to Britain and the diamond was gifted to Queen Victoria in 1850 and Kohinoor has been in possession of the Royal Family since then.

Cursed?

An ancient Hindu text describe this diamond as

He who owns the diamond will own The World, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God and women can wear it with impunity.

Well by the consequences that we have seen so far it is quite evident that whoever has owned this diamond we’re either defeated or died.

  • Kakatiya dynasty (original owner) defeated by Alauddin Khilji
  • Alauddin Khilji died shortly after that and the diamond was passed on to Mughals.
  • Mughals lost the war to Nadirshah weakening their army.
  • Nadirshah died while Kohinoor was in his possession.
  • Ahmad Shah Durrani died while Kohinoor was in possession.
  • Ranjit Singh had Kohinoor with him when he lost the war with British.
  • British Empire started losing hold on its colonies including India when they had Kohinoor

This supposedly curse of Kohinoor in Britain. Only the Queen is allowed to wear the Kohinoor diamond. Men are prohibited in using it. With such a history of blood and violence behind it, no wonder this diamond has generated more curiosity in people over a period of time. We might not know if this diamond will come back to India, but the bigger question is will this be a blessing of disguised for India.

                      History is the future!

                                 

We have always been cramming the dates, years of the major events that have happened in the past or the main points of the revolution that happened. Those sure were the pain in the brain, the main reason of this beautiful subject being boring. What would have happened if we did put more emphasis on pondering over the ideas that triggered all those wars and revolutions?

It would have been better in my opinion that rather than making students cram the date of the attack on Bastille, the idea behind the attack was targeted, making students think whether it was the right way to do it? It would have better if the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Maximilian Robespierre was earmarked, and the opinion was taken of each student on that, training their brain on HOW TO THINK rather than WHAT TO THINK.

How does it affect the future? You know the basic problem in India is we feed students; we do not make them search for the food. There must be a reason why we are a hub of cheap labour in the world but not of high skilled labour and leaders. The root cause of this is the blocked vision and the one-dimensional brain that is the result of constant feeding without thinking. A labourer won’t question your ideas, but a thinker would dare to question the thinking and could even change it and that’s where the creative thinking comes from, expanding your horizons, increasing your dimensions. You can see the world with the eyes of Albert Einstein or Max Weber by not merely reading their ideas but to think over it.

We all have read about Hitler, and we have crammed what he did. If we had been more possessive about his thinking itself, we must have known how one man can control the peoples’ mind. He was one of the powerful orator the world has ever seen, flowing peoples’ mind with hatred against one race and then controlling the stuff that their mind should feed through media, newspaper and other magazines, eliminating the THINKERS and the people he felt weren’t suitable by his standards or were opposing his draconian actions. In the end, the majority of the people left were his followers and the next thing we know was the start of WW2.

Now see your country’s leader, are there any similarities? If there are and there isn’t a big opposition against him, people must have learnt History from a wrong way, now tell me how cramming the date of Hitler’s birth would have helped us?

Let’s take another example, we all are aware of the India-China standoff that occurred recently. It wasn’t the first time China has done that. China’s shenanigans commenced from blunders that Pt Jawaharlal Nehru made in the 1950s which also were the great catalysts in India losing the 1962 war.

India happily ignored Chinese claims until the early 1950s. Maps released by Beijing in 1954 showed the north-eastern edge of Jammu and Kashmir (Aksai Chin region) as the territory of the Chinese, which triggered the alarm. Instead of vigorously addressing the issue with China and trusting the country, the Jawaharlal Nehru government decided to remain silent. The obvious way out was to sit across the table and solve the problem. A diplomatic solution was possible, this was the moment. The controversial borders were not delimited, only delimited. (Singh, 2019)

The sheer cowardice of Nehru has been haunting us ever since. One can’t change the historical mistakes but we sure can learn from them.

History should be treated as a subject that imparts important modern competencies like writing, critical thinking, reasoning and decision making. This makes the matter more relatable, beneficial, engaging and in the long term, helpful for the country.

Woman of steel

India in the early 1800s was a place of riot, extortion and was trapped under the unsympathetic British rule. Being one of the richest country for spices and hard earned labour, the Indians not living under royalty were suppressed under the British rulers, even leading to the death of many. In times that hold importance of freedom, a young woman in her teens made a decision to change the world from wrong doings and eradicate the biased rule of another country over India. Rani Lakshmi Bai, a soul filled with patriotism and love for the country, stood up and fought with all her will to sustain a free Hindustan.

The Queen of Jhansi was born on 18th November 1828 in Varanasi. Since her childhood she was trained and taught to be a warrior and an independent woman to live on freely and to dream of an ‘Azaad’ Bharat. She was educated not only in her native languages but in English as a foreign language. Her maiden name was Manikarnika, which later after her marriage was known as Rani Lakshmi Bai. Manikarnika lost her mother at a young age and her responsibility entirely fell upon her Father, Moropant Tambe. He trained her for becoming the best version of herself by teaching her the importance of martial arts, horse riding, sword fighting, as well as shooting.

In the year 1842, Manikarnika married the King of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar. On getting married into Jhansi, she was given the title of Rani Lakshmi Bai as a token of respect and honour to the new Queen of Jhansi. Being the Queen of Jhansi, Rani Lakshmi Bai couldn’t tolerate the cruelty of the British on poor Indians and setting them under their foot, to make a division between the elite and the common people of Jhansi. Crime and injustice against the people of Jhansi increased day by day, with the growth in death, either due to murder or suicide.

In the year 1851, Rani Lakshmi Bai gave birth to her son but within the period of four months, she lost him to illness. Thereafter, along with her husband, she decided to adopt a son for the future of Jhansi, for an heir to follow his father’s footsteps as Raja Gangadhar Rao was falling sick by every increasing day. Leading to this, in the year 1853, the Raja and Rani adopted a boy, Damodar Rao. Later in the year, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar passed away and set the journey for Rani Lakshmi Bai to sit in his throne and lead Jhansi to its glorious future.

The British wanted Jhansi under their rule completely, and a woman ruling the kingdom only boosted their ego and insecurities. Rani Lakshmi Bai got a notice by one of the British officer, Major Ellis to evacuate and handover Jhansi to the British. Infuriated by this act, Rani Lakshmi Bai said her famous words, “Meri Jhansi Nahi Dungi.” With this spirit, she fought for the freedom of Jhansi and ripped it off of the British rule.

The battle for freedom and survival started three years after with a huge massacre on the palace of Jhansi in the midst of the night, in order to capture the Queen as commanded by Sir Hugh Rose. Lakshmi Bai and her soldiers fought bravely against the surprised attack. As Jhansi was attacked terribly, the Queen of Jhansi, tied her son to her back and rode on a horse till she reached Kelpi. The Peshwa understood the situation and helped her with an army of her own. This was a stepping stone for all the woman inspired and taught by Rani Lakshmi Bai for a better world and a brighter future. With the upcoming war, woman were made warriors to fight against the injustice caused by the British.

On the day of the battle, Rani Lakshmi Bai fought with fire in her veins and courage in her blood. She fought till her last breath and created history by burning herself on the battle field so no Englishmen could touch her even after death. Rani Lakshmi Bai, a true warrior Queen inspired millions across the country and even today she lights the hearts of every woman who have to fight their own battles of bravery and sacrifice. As it is rightfully said, “Khoob ladi Mardani, Jhansi ki Rani”.

BIRTHDAY , CAKES AND CELEBRATION

Have you ever wondered why are birthday cakes round in shape and not rectangular , triangular or any other shape? And how and who came up with the idea of cutting cakes on your birthday ? It is believed that cakes originated in Germany in the 15th century at the festival of kinderfest , and the time period before that cakes were only used for weddings , not birthdays.

Photo by Marina Utrabo on Pexels.com

Cakes could only be afforded by the wealthy before the industrial revolution and hence was a symbol of luxury . Tracing our steps back to ancient Greece , we can discover more about the history of cakes . Artemis , the Greek Goddess of Moon and the hunt was very much adored and respected . It is believed that people brought cakes in the temple of Goddess Artemis . The cake was round in shape as it represented the shape of the moon , and the candles that were placed on the cake represented the glow of the moon , and the smoke from the candles would carry wishes of the people up to the sky , where the Gods resided. That is why people are asked to make a wish !

Greeks were the first to put candles on cakes .The Egyptians are the ones who started the ‘birthday’ tradition . Ancient Egyptians believed that when Pharaohs were crowned , they became Gods . Hence their coronation day was their ‘birth’ day . Now that’s quite a story behind birthday and cakes !!! There is always a rich and intriguing history behind the most ordinary things , and that is bewildering !

GREDA LENER

-Aastha Joshi

Gerda Lerner was bornin 30 April 1920 in Austria. She was Austrian born American historian and a women’s history author. Apart from scholarly publication she wrote numerous poems, fiction, screenplays, theater pieces and an autobiography. She also served as the president of organization of American historians from 1980 to 1981. She was also appointed as the history professor of Robinson Edward in Wisconsin until retiring. She was the founder of women’s history and in 1963 while she was still an undergraduate she taught “Great women’s in American history” which is considered as the first regular course for women in the field of women’s history. She played a key role in development of the curricula of the women’s history and formation of degree programs in women’s history at sarah Lawrence college and Wisconsin university were she also launched PH.D programe. Gerda Lerner was the first child of her parents and she had younger sister. She mentioned that as a child she has strained relationships. In 1938 at the time of anti-Nazi resistance Gerda got involved in it, because of which she and her mother were behind the bars and occupied the cell for 6weeks.In 1939 she immigrated to America on scholarship of bobby Jensen, her socialist fiance. Her marriage with Jensen did not work efficiently after she met carl Lerner who was a theater director. In 1951, Gerda Lerner collaborated with poet Eve Merriam on a musical, The Singing of Women. Her novel No Farewell was published in 1955. In the early 1960s, Lerner and her husband co authored the screenplay of the film Black Like Me, based on the book by white journalist John Howard Griffin. In 1966, Lerner became a founding member of National Organisation for Women.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Lerner published scholarly books and articles that helped establish women’s history as a recognized field of study. Her 1969article “The Lady and the Mill Girl: Changes in the Status of Women in the Age of Jackson”, published in the journal American studies, was an early and influential example of class analysis in women’s history. She was among the first to bring a consciously feminist notion to the study of history. In 1979, Lerner chaired The Women’s History Institute,

a fifteen-day conference at sarah college. It was attended by leaders of national organizations for women and girls

IMPORTANT WORKS

1. Black Women in White America,documentary

2. The Female Experience

3. Creation of patriarchy

4. Fireweed: A political autobiography

5. Creation of feminist consciousness

She died on January 2 2013 in Wisconsin at the age of 92.

The Case for a New Avenger

S.H.I.E.L.D. might have missed assembling team members from India, but it is never too late to correct an oversight. Imagine our larger-than-life superhero, Rajinikanth, partnering with other Avengers in a combined mission to save the planet from dangerous predators with bad intentions. Some aliens, some familiar ones! Yes, India is far from America, and the distance seems to have increased during the pandemic, but Rajinikanth could give some worthy company to Iron Man and perhaps teach him a trick or two, too, through holographic interfaces and augmented reality. Who knows, he could also kill all the mutants of Coronaviruses in this quest!

I wish to present some facts now to give you a background of my strategic human resource and leadership plan for S.H.I.E.L.D. India has one of the largest numbers of gig workers in the world. As per a March 2021 report by consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the gig economy in India is expected to soar to 90 million in approximately a decade from now. Choose any vocation here and you will be spoilt for choices. Almost everyone is an expert on politics, economics, socio-cultural issues, fashion, sports, career, marriage, children, nature, animals, traffic, the dos, and don’ts … the list is endless. People can even advice others on how they should lead their lives. It’s affection, silly!

War for talent? Clearly, recruiters have not been able to explore the depth of this vast pool. To reiterate, India is a land bubbling with high potentials. Now let us go back to the topic of superpowers. There is plan B too. Rajinikanth could have a serious competition in a plain-looking community here. S.H.I.E.L.D. could consider appointing some members from this fraternity too.

You are rolling your eyes? Why? Hear me out. Presenting to you the case of beholders of the mighty pen (over a sword or a gun), and the upholders of fine speech. Their words hit no less than the missiles unleashed by Israel over the Gaza strip. Let me walk you through the innate gifts of a less publicized community with an immensely amoeba-like (plasma membrane) flexibility.

The teachers.

The extremely sturdy ones can stand the whole day, operate (teach) without a table and a chair, or, the basic infrastructure, and sometimes work even at low or no salaries for months. The strengths, struggles and coping mechanism of the privileged ones out of this lot are embedded in different realms. More on that, later! You will be astonished to learn how many hats teachers can don at the same time. They juggle between being a mentor, coach, counsellor, Devil’s advocate, friend, philosopher, or guide. Interestingly, even their DNA personifies versatility. Over the years, the mutations in their genetic material have helped them learn how to make milestones of the stones thrown at them by students unhappy with their marks, and parents unhappy with the teachers for giving those marks! Talk about heightened senses, their eyes can easily observe and sense the intention behind each greeting, smile and calls to the office. They are like Sharma ji ka beta/beti’, always expected to excel at everything and set an ideal example for the others to emulate.

Here, I would take a detour and ask you to recall the violinists who continued to play music for as long as they were alive, just to calm the passengers on the sinking Titanic ship. On similar lines, teachers continued to teach while the pandemic unleashed havoc around the world. The unlearning of years of classroom teaching was replaced by the immediate need to adopt new technological tools and re-learn the art of virtual teaching. The new and changed landscape was no less than the one post Thanos snapping his finger.

Aren’t convinced yet? Go to the polling booths and follow the polio immunization drives, you will know what I mean.

Now the final hook. Except for some teachers working with elite institutions, the rest won’t even charge much for their services. You can simply smile, appreciate their work, show some respect, and boy, see how they melt! Just watch how it lights up their faces. They are so motivated, especially on September 5 every year in India, that even Abraham Maslow bows to them from time to time from his grave. Had told you about their genetic sequencing earlier, remember? I do hope I have presented their (our) case well, S.H.I.E.L.D. Hopefully, you will have a relook at your current team now.

On a sidenote, can I be a contender too? Just saying. I can take it up as a gig assignment during the semester breaks. Imagine the newest Avenger on the block and that too a female from India! It will further boost the diversity and inclusion factors for you. If you can give equitable salary and perks, you could even find yourself on the pages of Harvard cases.

You might want to provide supplements of Vitamin T(eacher) to your team if Rajinikanth’s diary of appointments is full. Professor Hulk would not mind some more erudite company. In return, I vow to start quoting your example in my classes as a great employer brand with an excellent employee value proposition. Who knows, I might even write a research article. Told you, pen and words are the weapons here. Think about it. What say? Are you game?

P.S. I have recently bought a telescope to keep an eye on the stars and planets too. Taking my possible future role tad too seriously, eh?

What History’s warfare up-skill us about directing in tranquility

Outside the study hall, Harvard Business School Professor Deepak Malhotra’s withstanding revenue is war and harmony, how wars start and end, how they might have been kept away from, and what exercises can be gained from them. Alongside examining wars, Malhotra has exhorted countries with immovable outfitted contentions, “to help them discover a route forward,” he says. The previous spring, he brought those exercises into the study hall with another course, “War and Peace: The Lessons of History for Leadership, Strategy, Negotiation, Policy, and Humanity.” The course gives a point by point investigation of the victories and disappointments of initiative, technique, and arrangements in a few contentions, going from the antiquated Peloponnesian Wars among Athens and Sparta, to World War I and World War II, to the Korean War and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. 

While it might seem like a social investigations course, these conflicts offer a variety of exercises for corporate pioneers and business visionaries. All things considered, initiative difficulties, key decisions, and high-stakes arrangements are constants in clashes among countries, however in the business world, as well, he brings up. So business pioneers would do well to consider the preventative disappointments and promising triumphs on the world’s war zones as they seek after long haul achievement.

For Malhotra, who has shown exchange and different subjects at HBS since 2002, the “War and Peace” course stands apart as a top choice. It even motivated him to compose his fourth book and his first novel, The Peacemaker’s Code, delivered for this present month. The book is a sci-fi thrill ride in which a youthful Cambridge history specialist is called to Washington to encourage the United States president to turn away a calamitous conflict. The conflicts Malhotra inspects in his “War and Peace” course represent the perils of drawing exercises from too hardly any notable encounters, of neglecting to appropriately analyze the reasons for past disappointments, and the basic significance of seeing a contention from the opposite side’s perspective. Here are a few perceptions from his course’s contextual investigations.

Battled in three stages among Athens and Sparta, the Peloponnesian War included a bombed ceasefire and finished with Sparta’s triumph and the overshadowing of Athens as a force and a popular government. For Malhotra, the conflict brings up the issue of why a few contentions appear to be unavoidable, in any event, when adversaries attempt to keep away from them, and how those worth obliterating clashes may have been deflected. He says it additionally represents the requirement for adjusting steadiness and adaptability while executing a strategy.He says this conflict likewise exhibits the expected effect of initiative change on system, and the entanglements of arranged arrangements that don’t as expected record for the interests of each side.

A political emergency started by the death of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand prompted raising assemblies, close quarters conflict, the breakdown of the Russian Empire, and a truce that rebuffed Germany.You may take the exercise that, if individuals rush to be forceful, too speedy to even think about pushing back on others, that will prompt struggle, Malhotra says.So you ought to be more tolerant, more malleable, really lenient when struggle can possibly heighten. In any case, even this apparently sensible end is perilous to apply indiscriminately in each future struggle—as turns out to be clear years and years after the fact, in the number one spot up to the subsequent World War. The Treaty of Versailles left Germany ruining for vengeance, and it additionally left its World War I foes in a financial downturn and restless to keep away from another conflict. Malhotra says that perspective and the exercises “learned” in World War I, may have driven the Allies to not be adequately forceful, along these lines neglecting to prevent Adolf Hitler and different fundamentalists. For business visionaries, he says the takeaway is that “the methodology that is effective in one endeavor doesn’t really prevail in another. Similarly,what works when driving a little association probably won’t work with a bigger one, and a system that you have depended on beneficially in past dealings may should be altogether disposed of in the following arrangement. The case additionally prompted an entrancing conversation about whether the inability to keep away from World War II was basically a disappointment of administration, procedure, or arrangement.

Coca Cola controversy

As Cristiano Ronaldo snubbed Coca-Cola at the press conference ahead of Portugal’s Euro 2020 opener, the move had a spiralling effect all across the football fraternity. The move also coincided with the share prices of Coca-Cola dropping down, wiping off about USD 4 billion from their brand value. However, industry experts don’t feel the two incidents were related.

Highlights

  • Cristiano Ronaldo’s Coca-Cola snub at a Euro 2020 news conference has been a huge topic of discussion
  • The move also coincided with the brand value of Coke sinking by USD 4 billion
  • A market expert, however, has brushed aside any connection between the two

Ronaldo wasn’t pleased seeing Coca-Cola bottles placed on the table as he arrived to attend the press conference with Portugal manager Fernando Santos on the eve of the Hungary match. He put the Coke bottles aside and picked up a water bottle saying ‘Agua’, asking people to drink water over soft drinks.

While the move was to promote a healthier lifestyle, the fact that Coca-Cola is an official sponsor of Euro 2020, is bound to leave both the beverage brand and UEFA a little disappointed.

“Coke and UEFA will both be fuming,” sports marketing expert Tim Crow, who worked as an advisor to the beverage-maker for 20 years, was quoted as saying by The Athletic. “The fact is there’s an agreement between them, which all the FAs and players sign up to, and one of the contractual agreements is going to press conferences where you’re surrounded by the sponsors’ branding.”

It’s certainly not ideal that one of the most famous and most followed athletes on the planet makes a gesture like that. The sports marketing community will have raised more than an eyebrow in Ronaldo doing that,” he added.

A day after the incident, reports of Ronaldo’s move hurting Coca-Cola’s stock prices and brand value surfaced but Crow has dismissed any co-relation between the two incidents. Branding it as ‘complete nonsense’, Crow said that the investors in the United States of America are not impacted by what happens in a European football match’s press conference.

American investors are not driven by what happens in a press conference ahead of a European football match. It doesn’t work like that. Tonnes of stocks went down for several reasons but the two things are not related. There are a billion servings of Coke every day. I think they’ll be OK,” he said.

GREEN REVOLUTION AND ITS IMPACT ON INDIA’S RURAL SOCIETY, ECONOMY AND ECOLOGY.

The episode of ‘Green Revolution’ has often been identified with the ‘New Agricultural Strategy’, extended under the premiership of the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, and Food Minister C. Subramanyam, particularly from the mid 1960s, which highly elevated
the ‘begging bowl’ image of India and transformed the import-dependent country to one which is self-reliant and self-sufficient with surplus food. The Green Revolution has been regarded as a political and technological achievement; unprecedented in the human history, since the output generated by these strategically programmed reforms was remarkable leading to the overall economic and agricultural
growth. The salient features of these newborn systematic efforts and developments included the introduction of High Yielding Variety seeds (HYVs), use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, use of agricultural machineries such as tractors, pump-sets, etc, introduction of soil testing facilities, provisions
of institutional credit to be advanced to the small-farmers for assistance and initiation of Agricultural Education Programs to make the farmers aware of the modern techniques and its efficient utilization. All these reconstructive measures, arising out of the wedlock of scientific and technological advancement
with that of the contemporary political and economic necessities, culminated into extraordinary results and an extensive economic growth.


Although, these new strategic remodeling measures contributed to the economic advancement of India – at a critical juncture when prolonged economic stagnation had compelled the nation to become dependent on imports of food grains – their impact and long-term consequences on the nature of agricultural growth, rural society, marginal and small-farmers, and the environment and ecology have generated heated debates and controversies. This article attempts to present an in-depth and comprehensive evaluation of these revolutionary measures along with its impressions and repercussions on Indian economy, rural-social scenario, and ecology. In order to investigate the advantages and judge the hidden and hitherto unknown socio-economic and ecological costs of the ‘Green Revolution’, it is necessary to attain an insight of the contemporary Indian politico-economic scenario.


India was in the ‘throes of a crisis’ during the mid-1960s, facing acute food shortages along with stagnant agricultural growth. On one hand, the population growth rates increased from about 1% to about 2.2% after independence, on the other hand, growing approach towards planned industrialization had put enormous pressures on Indian agriculture. The stagnant growth in per capita income and agricultural production consequently resulted in the price rise of food grains. India was forced to import increasing amounts of food in order to meet the crisis. Nearly 4.5 million tons of food grains were imported under
the PL-480 scheme from The United States in 1963. In addition to these came the two wars with China (1962) and Pakistan (1965) and the two successive drought years in 1965-66 leading to a fall in agricultural output by 17%. Food prices shot up, rising at the rate of nearly 20% per annum between 1965 and 1968. India had to import more than 10 million tons of food grains in 1966. With famine conditions emerging in various parts of the country, the US threatened to repudiate commitments of food exports to India. Therefore, it was in this background that economic self-reliance and food self- sufficiency were of the utmost priority in the Indian Economic Policies, which brought about the extensive implementation of the new strategy throughout the country.


Initially these were introduced in particularly selected areas where supplies of assured water created “fair prospects of achieving rapid increases in production”. A total of about 32 million acres of land, nearly 10% of the total cultivable area, was chosen for the distribution of this package. By 1965, the
Food Ministry was ready with a full-fledged version of the ‘New Strategy’, which called for the implementation of a High Yielding Varieties Program in districts that had already been selected for intensive development under the Intensive Agricultural Areas Program (I.A.A.P) and Intensive Agricultural Development Program (I.A.D.P). The New Strategy attained spectacular economic gains and assumed crucial importance in the Planning Commission’s agricultural development strategy. With the introduction of the strategy, production reached a record high of 16.6 million tons in 1967-68, Government investment in agriculture rose significantly and Institutional finance to agriculture doubled between 1968 and 1973. Prospects for such a breakthrough seemed even brighter in 1969-70, when estimates of total food grains output indicated an achievement of nearly 100 million tons. The Agricultural Prices Commission was set up in 1965 and efforts were made to ensure that farmers were assured a profitable market. Even the new technology was attempted to be made available at low prices which raised the profitability of private investment by farmers and as a result of all these factors, the Total Gross Capital Formation in Agriculture increased profoundly.


Thus in the realm of economy, the “major impact of the Green Revolution strategy was that through increases in agricultural yields India was able to maintain, once again, the high rate of agricultural growth achieved since independence.” Food availability kept increasing sharply to 110.25 million tons in 1978 and 128.8 million tons in 1984, putting an end to India’s ‘begging bowl’ image, making the country self-sufficient in food with buffer stocks of over 30 million tons and even capable of exporting food to pay back its earlier loans and advance food loans to other food-deficit countries.5 Apart from increasing agricultural output, the Green Revolution generated a rapid increase in the marketable surplus of food grains. “It was the marketed surpluses as a result of the Green Revolution…which
enabled internal procurement of food by the government and the building up of large food stocks.” Thus, the food requirements could now be met internally and India was finally liberated from its dependence on PL-480 or other imports inaugurating a self-reliant development.


Even though the new strategy proved to be profitable at the economic front, many arguments regarding its impact on society and ecology are extensively debated. In the words of Vandana Shiva, “Instead of stabilizing and pacifying the countryside, it [Green Revolution] fueled a new pattern of conflict and violence.” It is generally held that the strategy was “accentuating regional inequality”, where the gains of these new techniques have been very unevenly distributed. In Ludhiana, the majorities of cultivators have economic holdings of 15 or 20 acres or more, and could accumulate surpluses, the benefits of the new technology have been most widely unevenly shared, while presumably only the farmers, with holdings of 10 acres or less, have experienced a serious deterioration in their economic position. In the case of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, where over 80 percent of cultivating households operate farms of less than 8 acres or are pure tenants, have actually led to an absolute deterioration in the economic condition. As an opponent of this view, G.S Bhalla has shown that instead of promoting regional inequalities, the Green Revolution has over time actually spread to large parts of the country bringing prosperity to these regions. In the first stage (1962-65 to 1970-73) of the Green Revolution, the North-Western region of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh achieved the increase in yields. In the second phase (1970-73 to 1980-83), the Green Revolution spread to the other parts of the country such as eastern Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, etc. The third phase of Green Revolution showed very significant results and spread to the eastern regions of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, etc. “This period saw not only a marked overall (all-India) acceleration of the growth of agricultural output…but also witnessed a much more diversified growth pattern, considerably reducing regional inequality by increasing the spread of rural prosperity.”

Another view is that the Green Revolution was leading to “class polarization” in the countryside. It is said that the Green Revolution encouraged and strengthened the large farmers who could afford the capital intensive techniques and the small farmers and the tenants were left alienated as they were unable to access modern inputs and were consequently unable to retain their lands. “The Green Revolution thus started the process of depeasantization of peasantry, through increasing cost of cultivation”. Further, the mechanization of agriculture was displacing labour leading to increasing unemployment and a fall in wages of agricultural labour, which ultimately gave way to rural-social conflicts throughout the country. The destabilizing impact of rapid modernization within an agro-economic context that favors the large farmers was highlighted by the Home Ministry’s 1969 report on “The Causes and Nature of the Current Agrarian Tension.” Justifying an increase from 19 to 43 reported cases of agrarian conflict in one year; it found that over 80 % of the agitations were led by the landless against landowners. The “predisposing” factors responsible for these agrarian tensions were the failure of land reforms to provide tenants with security of tenure or fair rents, or to correct inequalities in landownership through redistribution of surplus land. However, the “proximate” causes which converted discontent into open conflict were rooted in the new agricultural strategy and Green Revolution.

However, the classic work, ‘India since Independence’, has put forward that from the very beginning of the New Agricultural Strategy, there was an awareness in regards to ensure that the poor farmers could access the new technology and the agricultural labourers’ interests were protected. Efforts were made in the late sixties and seventies as a part of ‘garibi hatao’ campaign launched by Mrs. Indira Gandhi. A series of programs such as Rural Works Programme (RWP), SFDA, Crash Scheme for Rural Employment (CSRE), etc. were launched to assist small-farmers. Regarding the fall of the small farmers to the ranks of the landless, it depicts that with the adoption of the new technology, improved seeds and other agricultural inputs, the small farmers became more feasible and were not compelled to sell their land. This view is confirmed by the studies of G.S Bhalla and G.K Chadha. The rise in rural
unemployment because of labour-displacing mechanization has been rather said as, “The net impact of tractorization, taking into account increase in cropping intensity etc., was an increased demand for labour.” However, all the employment generated were not sufficient to meet the employment
requirements of the growing population and that the programs initiated for the assistance of the small farmers were very slow in their progress for which, Vandana Shiva commented, the “…experiment of Green Revolution…have pushed society to the verge of social breakdown.”


At the ecological level, the question of environmental degradation and its sustainability has become a hard pressed issue. The advancement of the technology and the Revolution had a negative impact on the already depleting natural resources and the environment. The excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, the large scale deforestation in order to increase land under cultivation and the withdrawal of ground-water without adequate recharge of the same have contributed to the loss of fertility of the land, breed new pests and diseases and hampered the ecological balance at a great height. The transformation from multiple cropping patterns to monoculture has significantly deprived the soil from its fertility. The ‘miracle’ seeds, as the high yielding seeds were labeled, have put new demands on scarce resources, generated severe ecological destruction and created new kinds of scarcity and vulnerability. Vandana Shiva has thus pointed out that, “Instead of transcending the limits put by natural endowments of land and water, the Green Revolution introduced new constraints on agriculture by wasting and destroying land, water resources, and crop diversity.”

Thus in order to conclude, it can be said that the Green Revolution had a great impact on rural India with the gains of food availability, decline in relative prices of food, generating of agricultural and non-agricultural employment, rise in wage, most importantly the economic and agrarian growth at a critical period. The ‘miracle’ seeds have handsomely contributed to the rural and agricultural development of India making it self-reliant and self-sufficient in regards to food. In spite of the direct criticism of Vandana Shiva that “the experiment [Green Revolution] has failed”, the contribution of the Revolution to make India independent from the shackles of dependency on other countries for food, should not be neglected. Therefore, even though the Green Revolution generated conflicts and instability at the political level; rural disparities and inequalities at the social level; and scarcity and vulnerability of resources at the ecological level, the economic gains of this new strategy of Green Revolution should not be overlooked.

LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI AND THE MAKING OF INDIA.

LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI AND THE MAKING OF INDIA.

Amongst the most noteworthy ‘Satyagrahi’, politician turned minister was the “little man” – LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI. Most people associate him as the second Prime Minister of INDIA for a brief period from 9th June 1964 to 11th January 1966 and seldom assess his importance on the basis of his Prime Ministerial period, but very few know about his previous political achievements. Therefore, in order to critically analyse his role in the making of India after independence, one has to consider from the very beginning of his political career.

LAL BAHADUR was born on 2nd October 1904 in Mughalsarai to SHARADA PRASAD and RAMDULARI DEVI. He lost his father when he was barely a year and a half old, for which his maternal grandfather HAZARI LAL took them to his house where Lal spent most of his childhood. He went to Harishchandra High School, it was here that Lal Bahadur’s heart throbbed with patriotism under the guidance of his teacher and mentor, Nishkameshwar Prasad Misra. He listened to Mahatma Gandhi and Lokmanya tilak’s speeches, being spellbound by their charisma, he realized there was no greater force than truth and justice. Thus, when Gandhiji started the Civil Disobedience Movement, Lal Bahadur not only left his school but also actively participated throughout the movement spreading the spirit of patriotism and nationalism. He then joined the Kashi Vidyapeeth – a nationalist school by patriots – where he took his degree in philosophy and came out as Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1926 to take up the responsibility of a nation builder.

He joined the Servants of the People Society founded by Lala Lajpat Rai in 1926 and became its third president after Purushottamdas Tondon. Tondon made him secretary of the District Congress Committee alongside his lifetime membership of the People Society. It was through these positions in Allahabad that Lal Bahadur carried out the first phase of his political career. He himself acknowledged, “ It was due to life membership of the Servants of the People Society that I got an opportunity to serve my country the most. Society has been instrumental in inculcating in me the true meaning of the term ‘servants of people’”. Lal Bahadur caught the attention of the congress “ top brass ” when he was elected in the U.P Assembly and his Land Reform Report became the basis of the Land Reform Legislation in 1937. Even during the Quit India Agitation, where all the congress leaders were arrested, Lal Bahadur kept hiding and continued the congress “underground” work.

Lal Bahadur Shastri

His return from the jail in 1945 and the Independence of India marks the second phase of Lal Bahadur’s political career. Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant appointed Lal Bahadur as one of his parliamentary secretaries. Impressed by his hard work and sincerity, Pant appointed him as the Police and Transport Minister in the Government when the position stood vacant. As the police and transport minister, he sought to bring a better understanding between the people and the Police Force. For this, he injected young men into the police cadre and created the Prantiya Raksha Dal – the second line of defence – which comprised young men from society who instilled a spirit of patriotism and discipline and years later fought the Chinese invaders bravely. He initiated nationalised road transport in UP, which established contact with the hitherto backward areas and brought trade and economic prosperity. He took a socially radical move by opening bus conducting jobs to women and enforced law and order with firmness and impartiality. When Nehru took over Congress Presidentship, he appointed Lal Bahadur as the General Secretary of the Congress Party Headquarters, which the latter accepted and moved to New Delhi in 1951. 

Lal Bahadur proved his skills and sincerity for which he was straightway included in the central cabinet as the Railways and Transport Minister. Lal bahadur had to take up “ the triple task of rejuvenating the railway administration and repairing the ravages of partition and providing more amenities to the ever-mounting number of passengers who were outstripping the capacity of the Indian railways.” He rearranged the travelling classes, introduced reserved three and two-tier accommodations, third class air-conditioned chair car and electric fans for the third class compartments and even solved the food problem, thus, bringing extensive relief to middle-class passengers. To improve railway efficiency, an Efficiency Bureau was set up along with a Security Adviser and a Railway Protection Force and was even responsible for the reconstitution of new units such as South-Eastern and Central Railways. He constituted Railway User’s Consultative Committee at every level and in 1954-55, approved the Ganga Bridge Project Administration for the construction of road cum rail bridge across the Ganga. These measures led to the advancement of the previously neglected sphere of Railways and inaugurated the process of making India.

In the 1957 elections, Lal Bahadur was given the Ministry of Transport and Communication for a short period, where he brought some changes in administration in accordance with the then economy. He was then moved to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. His tenure saw remarkable progress in Commercial and Industrial fields. The Heavy Engineering Corporation was set up with the help of the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, Small Scale Enterprises and Industries were supported and Agro-Industries were encouraged. The Automobile Industry saw a boost in its output and these measures sought to eradicate the problem of Agricultural Unemployment and Underemployment. After the death of Home Minister, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant in April 1961, he was appointed as the Union Minister for Home Affairs. In his new position, he faced the threat of Tara Singh in Punjab and the critical situation of Assam, where the former was a political demand; the latter arose out of language controversy. These turmoils threatened internal peace and order and disrupted the stability of the country.

Lal Bahadur was able to elope the problems and tactfully overcame the challenges. The Shastri formula was somewhat successful in re-establishing communal harmony in Assam, but the language problem was not only the “apple of discord” in Assam, rather generated tensions in other parts of the country, especially between the South and the North. He convened a National Integration Conference in New Delhi, where it was accepted that ultimately Hindi would become the national language but the need for continuation of English till the time Hindi was fully developed was also realised. The Conference set up a Permanent National Integration Council and appointed three committees, the Ashoka Mehta Committee, the Sampurnanand Committee, and the C. P Ramaswamy Aiyar Committee, to lay down the means to implement decisions. Lal Bahadur also devoted to administrative reform to curb corruption and inefficiency in the administration by setting up the Central Bureau of Investigation and appointed the Santhanam Commission. He even established the All India Board to promote the social and economic well-being of the most backward classes of India. In his tenure of the home ministry, he had to face the Chinese crisis and was to handle the state of emergency, where he is said to have played rather a “positive role”. His consequent visit to Nepal and establishing a cordial relation with the country earned him great prestige in the national arena.

Lal Bahadur enjoyed the confidence and support of the majority of the ministers for his gentle personality and his hard work. Even Jawaharlal Nehru relied on Lal Bahadur for his assistance and made him a “Minister without Portfolio” in 1964 when he himself was seriously ill. Thus, when ultimately the “banyan tree” fell, the question “ After Nehru Who and What?” became apparent. Between the two contestants, Morarji Desai and Lal Bahadur, the latter was appointed by the so-called ‘syndicate’ and the chief ministers, as the next Prime Minister of India without any strife. As the Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur retained the predecessor’s policy which he said, “ is beneficial to India and will be for the country in the future.” In his short tenure of 19 months of Prime Ministership, he had to face a lot of criticism along with problems. The main problems being Pakistan and Chinese invasions. In his dealings with the Chinese, he made it clear that the Colombo proposals alone could form the basis of talks and said ” we have gone to the utmost limit in accepting them” and there was no going beyond them. He, however, appeared to be more flexible with Pakistan, calling them kin and kith of Indians and believed that the two countries should live together in peace and harmony. His policy towards China and Pakistan was “one of persuasion without abandoning our basic principle.”

His main task as Prime Minister was to form his cabinet, which he did remarkably and brought Indira Gandhi into the cabinet as the Minister for Information and Broadcasting. Although his retention of Foreign Affairs evoked criticism, still he was highly accepted as the Prime Minister because of his “practical and vigorous policy to accelerate the economic growth of the country.” Along with his Prime Ministerial Ship, he inherited a” plateful of unresolved thorny problems.” Since his tenure was the product of the ‘Syndicate’ and some Chief Ministers, he owed to them, who by now acted as “powerful satraps” which ultimately slowed down the decision making and implementation process of the government. His tenure saw the food crisis affecting the economy where the prices increased 22% in 18 months. As an immediate action, he increased food import and spread the Fair Price Programme to the entire country. The Government established a Food Grain Trading Corporation, as an interim measure until the Agriculture Prices Commission took up the charge and an Adhoc Committee was appointed. The legislation was introduced for quality control of improved seeds and Irrigation along with Plant Protection was extended to the entire country. The initiation of the Green Revolution and the White Revolution also contributed to the improvement of the situation. The Prime Minister contributed to the rectification of the country’s development planning which was contributing to the problem of inflation. Even though the government was able to tackle some of the issues, the foreign exchange crisis and the southern language shook the foundation of the Shastri government.

The Kutch Incidents triggered from Jan 1965 between India and Pakistan which came to an end on July 1st with a cease-fire line. Pakistan again on September 1st, invaded Kashmir and war continued for 22 days, ultimately with the joint USA and USSR sponsored Security Council, adopted a resolution of cease-fire line from 22nd Sept. The international compulsion brought both Shastri and Ayub together at Tashkent under soviet premiere Alexie Kosygin. The Tashkent talks resulted in the signing of the famous Tashkent agreement on January 10, 1966, which ensured peace at that moment but failed to provide any permanent solution to the Kashmir issue. The government’s spokesman explained that even though the agreement could not afford any solution to the Kashmir problem, still its significance lies in the fact that both the countries despite differences, pledged to live together in peace and harmony as good neighbours.

Unfortunately, the action that gained him huge popularity and the time which favoured his grip over the Prime Ministerial position came to an end because of his unprecedented death by cardiac arrest the next day, i.e, 11th Jan 1966. Thus came to an end, the brilliant career of an outstanding politician-cum-minister, whose great achievement was to lighten the Indian people’s sinking spirits during the depressing years. Had he lived longer, he could have solved many knotty problems confronted by the country for which he remains to be criticised. The fact remains that during the first years Shastri confronted a series of crises that became the reason for his not getting time to rest back, think and formulate new policies. Thus, when he swam across the ” sea of troubles”, the critics narrated him as “a prisoner of indecision”. But from the start of his political career, his contribution for both the freedom movement and the making of a self-reliant, independent country India, can never be ignored or neglected. And thus, “the little man” from India will continue to be remembered by Indians forever.

NOTES AND REFERENCES:-

MANKEKAR, D. R, ‘Builders of Modern India- Lal Bahadur Sashtri’, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, New Delhi, 1973

Chandra Bipan, Mukherjee Mridula, Mukherjee Aditya, ‘India Since Independence’, Penguin Random House Publishing, Haryana,2008

The importance of history

We from our childhood are given a name, we as we study along and get educated, we collect certificates, participate in competitions, compete for rank, give speeches , excel in sports and exams, and so on, all this time we are creating an unique identity. Every step of our life we are contributing to make our own unique identity, trying to be something different, trying to mark our mark, trying to create a legacy, each and everyone’s different in its own way. From the laziest to the most energetic, form the dorkiest to the smartest, from the strongest to the most disciplined, from a Romeo to any geek, from a child to a teen to a young grown up to a middle aged person to a old man, that is what everyone strives for subconsciously. 


What is history ?

History is what we came from and is often why we think and act in a certain way.We will frame our very lives in the paths travelled by our relatives and their actions. As the saying goes, “ to understand what is, one must understand what was”.

What history has is the goal of tracing narratives of past events, and analyzing the patterns that emerge as a way to provide perspective on our past.

History is wonderful and should be studied and therefore understood.

It can be studied at different levels and is just full of great adventures.

– food – countries – trains – religion – art – medicine – architecture – fashion.


Why is history important? 

The same reason that personal memory matters. If you didn’t know what you had done in the past, he would have no meaningful identity as a person. History is to civilization what memory is to individuals.

Aa there is a saying which goes as :

History repeats itself. Who knows, what we learn right now about the past may come back to help us in the future!

In all cases, understanding History is integral to a good understanding of the condition of being human. That allows people to build, and, as may well be necessary, also to change, upon a secure foundation. Neither of these options can be undertaken well without understanding the context and starting points. All living people live in the here-and-now but it took a long unfolding history to get everything to NOW. And that history is located in time-space, which holds this cosmos together, and which frames both the past and the present.

Well, the truth of the matter is that history does repeat itself and it’s best to be prepared for it by knowing the outcomes of previous instances and being able to make educated decisions based off of these that will help to a greater degree in the long run.

It helps us solve whatever problems the future holds. So keep knowing about the history or the past before stepping to anything


Perspective towards the history

There are many different perspectives that explain History’s existence.

History is older than any other form of ‘social study’ and existed way before there were academic institutions or an academic discipline associated to it. So, it seems it has been a social and cultural demand of various cultures (but not all of them), to understand their own selves in time. The narratives of origin gave a special meaning to particular groups and cultures. Something akin to mythological narratives, but with a claim to represent ‘what really happened’, based on testimonies and observations and making sense of where we came from. So, we come to a perspective very widespread in ancient times, that of History as a ‘master of life’, a repository of experiences and deeds of great (and lesser) men, which could be used by those who read it (statesmen, generals, etc.) in order to learn from the mistakes and great achievements, morals and virtues of generations past. The past as a guide to future action.

Another perspective came with the need, analogous to the new modern sciences, of understanding the world in an objective scientific perspective. Because of the historical context in which that process happened i.e coinciding with the birth and consolidation of the modern nation-state, it was closely linked with the political, philosophical and ideological need to construct national identities, referred to historical narratives of national origins. The understanding of the past as scientific knowledge, not necessarily for any practical purpose. Later, History came to be seen, through another political and epistemological perspective, as a tool to understand the present, by means of understanding and explaining how political, social, economic and cultural processes evolved, from different past configurations. The study of the past as a method to understand the present.


Should history matter to us

Even if there is no true objectivity to one’s history, even if there is no real common interpretation of history, but the truth is we need to protect it for our relative objectivity and subjectivity both. At Least for this day in age of 21st century, ask not what is reality, ask how to protect our reality because once our reality is distorted either by lie or truth, identity is lost. 

History makes future for us at the end of the day, what one did yesterday decides what happens today. What we do today, when today becomes yesterday, our those actions make the future. History is our child. We are creating history as we are living through the present. It is our legacy, it is our tomorrow’s myth and legend, history is us from once.  


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The Foundation Day of Maharashtra.

With the dream city as its capital, Maharashtra is the second most populous state of the country. Along with being the most industrialised state of the nation, it is also the largest contributor to the GDP of India. It is ‘The Land of the Valiants’. The Ganesh Chaturthi celebration of this state is one of the famous festivals contributing to the economy of the nation. ‘Laal Bagh cha Raja’ in Mumbai is a great tourist attraction.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Let’s start with the history of the state:

  • Shahaji Bhosale was the first Maratha to establish his independent rule. His legacy was continued by his son Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the one who is credited for the major expansion of the Maratha Empire.
  • The Marathas are largely attributed for ending the Mughal rule in India.
  • They were the chief participants in the Third battle of Panipat in the year 1751.
  • The rule of Marathas came to an end after the third Anglo-Maratha war. Though their rule ended their power was both appreciated and feared by the people. 

“India contains no more than two great powers, British and Maratha, and every other state acknowledges the influence of one or the other. Every inch that we recede will be occupied by them.’ Charles Metcalfe, Governor-General wrote in 1806.

  • The first railway line of the nation was laid between Bori Bunder and Thane in 1853.
  • The first textile Mill was set up in Mumbai in 1854. Mumbai became one of the most important ports on western coast overtaking Surat. 
  • Bombay became one of the most important presidencies under the British rule. The second University in India was established here after the University of Calcutta in 1857.
  • After partition both the Gujarati and the Marathi people demanded a new state on the basis of their language. On 1 May 1960, their demands were fulfilled dividing the Bombay presidency into two states; Gujarat and Maharashtra.  

Having a rich history, Maharashtra is also known for its various tourists spots. Some of the main tourists attraction of the state are: 

  • The city of dreams, Mumbai.
  • ‘The Oxford of the east’ and the IT centre of the nation, Pune.
  • The Hill stations like Lonawala, Mahabaleshwar, Khandala, Palghar and Matheran (the cutest hill station of India).
  • The famous temples of Nashik and Shirdi.
  • The historic cities like Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Kolhapur, etc.
  • The majestic Ajanta and Ellora caves, Elephanta caves are the important UNESCO World Heritage sites of the state. 
  • Sharing a coastline with Arabian Sea the state is endowed with numerous beaches and in-land fresh water lakes. 
  • Many forts like that of Raigarh, Rajmachi, Pratapgarh, Sinhagarh, Kolaba, mark the historic importance of the state.
  • Adlabs Imagica is one of the best amusement parks in the country. 

And the list goes on. Maharashtra has given many famous:

  • Valiant leaders like: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Rani Laxmi Bai, Peshwa Bajirao, Ahilya Bai Holkar, etc.
  • Independence warriors like: Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Tantia Tope, Vasudev Balwant Phadke, etc.
  • Revolutionaries like: B.R. Ambedkar, Jyoti Rao Phule, Vinoba Bhave, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, etc.

One of the most famous politician Bal Thackeray formed the party Shiv Sena for the welfare of the common man in Maharashtra. 

Marathi people take pride for their valiant Heritage and celebrate the foundation of this state every year with great joy. Maharashtra is a must visit state for every Indian. Lets celebrate this pride with the recitation of ‘JAI MAHARASHTRA…!’

JAI JAI GARVI GUJARAT…!

61 years ago from today, foundation of a state named Gujarat was done in India. Known for its rich culture and heritage, Gujarat is the fifth-largest state in the country. It is well known for its industrialization and diamonds. Surat is the city where most of the diamonds of the world are imported to get polished. Gujarat is one of the major contributor in country’s economy. What makes this state more popular is the rate of unemployment which is surprisingly low here and also the title of manufacturing hub of India. It is also one of the greatest producer of cotton. The textile industries have played a great significance in building up the industrialization in the nation.

Image Source: DNA India

Let’s take a virtual tour of Gujarat and for that let us know a little history of the state:

  • Gujarat was one of the main centres of the Indus Valley civilization. It comprises the ancient cities like Lothal, Dholavira, Gola Dhoro etc. Lothal is considered one of the first seaports of the world.
  • The popular temple of Somnath, Gujarat was looted by Muhammad Ghori.
  • The Architectural style of Gujarat was used by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in the incarnations of Fatehpur Sikri. 
  • Surat was one of the most important ports for trading. It was popularly known as ‘Gateway to the east’.
  • Historic events like the Kheda Satyagraha and Dandi March were witnessed by this state.
  • After partition, Gujarat was a part of a large province called Bombay with the capital city Bombay (present- Mumbai).
  • When every state was being divided on the basis of the language, the Gujarati and Marathi speaking people demanded different states for themselves.
  • On 1 May 1960, their demand was fulfilled with the state of Gujarat for Gujarati speaking people and the state of Maharashtra for Marathi speaking people.
  • The first capital of Gujarat was Ahmedabad, which was later moved to Gandhinagar in 1970.

Places to visit in Gujarat:

  • Rann of Kachchh, One of the most beautiful yet surreal places in India with its white desert is a must visit for every Indian in their lifetime.
  • Gir National Park, A home for Asiatic lions.
  • Saputara Hill Station.
  • Statue of Unity.
  • Historic cities like Dholavira with the remarkable excavation of Indus Valley Civilization.
  • Famous temples of Dwarka and Somanth.
  • The city of Junagadh with its historical monuments.
  • AMUL (Anand Milk Udhyog Limited) Industry in the Anand district.
  • The Hills of Pavagadh and Girnar embedded with the stories of Mohammad Begda (Be-Gad: Two Hills) portraying communal unity in India.
  • With a coastline of 1600 kilometres, Gujarat is also famous for its different beaches. Kandla, one of the most important ports of India is found in this state.

And many more. People also find their interest in visiting the cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, and Vadodara. Ahmedabaad is also known as ‘The Manchester of India’. Tarnetar fair and the Rann Utsav are some of the famous fair-festival of this state after Navratri, main festival of the state.

Gujarat’s development was acknowledged by people when the earthquake hit the district Bhuj in the year 2001. An immense destruction was caused to the life and the property. When nobody was expecting the normalcy in the district for at least 5 to 6 years, to one’s surprise the damage was refurbished in about 2 years. Besides development, Gujarat is also known to be one of the safest state for women.

Gujarat marks the birth of great political leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Indulal Yagnik, of famous Businessmen like Mukesh Ambani, Gautam Adani, of famous poets like Zaverchand Meghani, Narsih Mehta, Umashankar Joshi etc. It is indeed the land where ‘great personalities’ are born.

Gujarati people take pride in celebrating the birth of this exemptionary state reciting ‘JAI JAI GARVI GUJARAT…’ 

Khilokri- A lost city

“Oh, King! You’ve built such a wall around Sher-i-nau

That stone can reach the moon from the pinnacle (of its towers)”

Amir Khusraw

Delhi is known for its proverbial seven cities albeit it lacks precision. The ruins of the city of Khilokri, however, have not survived the wrath of time. However, the city has significantly helped in the socio-cultural development of the Sultanate capital of Delhi. The city came to the limelight when it was favoured for residence by Sultan Kaiqubad. 

The early settlements in Khilokri are, however, not insignificant. Qutubuddin Bhaktiyar Kaki was staying in Multan with his preceptor, Bahauddin Zakariya when the city was besieged by the Mongols. Consequently, he set off for Delhi and settled at Khilokri. Two leading theologians of Iltumish’s court visited him frequently but were troubled by the distance. With Iltumish’s help, they brought Kaki to Qutb Delhi (The present-day Old Delhi or Shahjahanabad) and got a house for him next to the Izzuddin’s mosque. Firishta writes that Kaki had settled in Khilokri due to ‘proximity to water’ and was unwilling to move to Old Delhi but he eventually gave in and settled there. 

Ruknuddin Firoz succeeded Iltumish as the Sultan of Delhi. A conspiracy against his rule was held in Khilokri by several officials of the old sect/dispensation. Khilokri was no longer a Sufi city and had shed all the vestiges of Kaki. Now, the city was a cantonment-like town. To suppress the rebellion, the Sultan marched with a multitude of armed men to Khilokri only to be executed. Razzia Sultana, the first and the only woman claimant of the Delhi Sultanate festooned the throne. However, she was sacked for showing signs of rebellion against the entrenched Iltumish’s military commanders or Shamsi sect and three more Shamsi puppets were placed in quick succession. 

When the emissaries of the Mongol conqueror of Iran and Iraq arrived at Delhi to meet Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud, the entire route from Old Delhi to Khilokri was embellished with an array of soldiers and civilian militia. Juzzani twice mentioned the city as the ‘sher-i-nau’ or the ‘new city’. The riparian plains of Khilokri was indeed an excellent location far from the hustle-bustle of the overpopulated Qutb Delhi. 

The fresh founding of the city comes from the accounts of Ziyauddin Barani in his magnum opus, Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi. He credits Sultan Kaiqubad as the founding father of Khilokri. He describes him as a ‘handsome young man of excellent qualities with a heart filled with the desire to enjoy the pleasures of life’. On the banks of river Yamuna, Kaiqubad laid foundations of a large palace and a splendid garden. He moved there and started living with his auxiliaries. The nobilities started building palaces in the quarters they occupied and the heads of each profession moved from Delhii-Kuhna or the Old Delhi to Khilokri, making it populous and flourishing. Eventually, singers, jesters and performers started migrating to the city. In the due course of time, wine houses became full and recreational places came up in the city. Sources suggest that the price of wine increased ten-fold. Everybody was busy seeking the sensual pleasure of the materialistic world supplemented by an enormous demand for wine and perfume. 

However, there’s no evidence suggesting that Qutb Delhi ceased to be the capital of the Sultanate. The imperial mint continued to be located in Qutb Delhi and the coins mentioning the name of Sultan Kaiqubad were found from Qutb Delhi. 

Nau Roz is celebrated to mark the beginning of the Iranian Solar year. A long poem by Amir Khusraw describes the celebration of the same in Khilokri

Eventually, Kaiqubad was murdered and the intra-dispensational conflict placed Jalaluddin Khalji on the throne of Delhi Sultanate. Barani mentions that fearing the hostilities of the city residents to the new ruler, Jalaluddin Khalji chose to reside in Khilokri. The nobles of Qutb Delhi travelled to Khilokri to offer allegiance to the newly enthroned emperor. The reign of Jalaluddin Khalji witnessed a new round of construction activities in Khilokri. Firstly, he ordered the completion of the palace commissioned by Kaiqubad. Secondly, he commissioned a splendid garden in front of the palace by the banks of the river Yamuna. Thirdly, a fort was built inlaid with stone walls and watchtowers each of which were placed under the control of a noble. In consequence of the imperial favour conferred to Khilokri, markets began to be built on all sides of the city. Another layer of houses was built by the nobles and officers of the new Khalji dispensation. Merchants started to migrate to Khilokri and started building markets. The population of Khilokri was increasing to an extent that a new mosque was built especially for the Friday congregational prayers. It is further evident that the term ‘sehr-i-nau’ for Khilokri reclined the Qutb Delhi to the status of Delhi-i-Kuhna or Old Delhi. 

Furthermore, Sheikh Nizammudin Auliya built his hospice in Ghiyaspur guided by a ‘divine voice’. After the founding of Khilokri by Sultan Kaiqubad, the population of Ghiyaspur started rising substantially. The distance from Ghiyaspur to Khilokri was close to half a kuroh or 1.458 kilometres. Sources suggest that Sheikh Nizammudin Auliya would walk from Ghiyaspur to Khilokri for the Friday prayers. It is also found that Sheikh Nizammudin Auliya got a house in front of the Friday Mosque at Khilokri. Finally, Ghiyaspur became a suburb of Khilokri on its northward extension. 

References 

  • Ali, Athar. (1985). “Capital of the Sultans: Delhi through the 13th and 14th Centuries”, in R.E. Frykenberg, ed., Delhi Through the Age: Essays in Urban History, Culture and Society, Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 34-44
  • Kumar, Sunil. (2011). “Courts, Capitals and Kingship: Delhi and its Sultans in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries CE” in Albrecht Fuess and Jan Peter Hartung. (eds.).Court Cultures in the Muslim World: Seventh to Nineteenth Centuries, London: Routledge, pp. 123-148
  • Kumar, Sunil. (2019) ”The Tyranny of Meta-Narratives; Re-reading a History of Sultanate Delhi”, in Kumkum Roy and NainaDayal.(Ed.).Questioning Paradigms, Constructing Histories: A Festschrift for Romila Thapar, Aleph Book Company, pp 222-235.
  • Haidar, Najaf. (2014). ‘Persian Histories and a Lost City of Delhi’, Studies in People’s History, vol. 1, pp. 163–171

Cultural Heritage Sites in India

India is a country which has a host of spectacular sites, ranging from glorious historical monuments to diverse natural heritage sites. UNESCO World Heritage Convention has recognised many sites across the world for their cultural heritage. India has the 6th largest number of world heritage sites with 38 such sites. Here are some sites among those, which one shouldn’t miss while exploring the country.

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Taj Mahal, Agra

The Taj Mahal is a funerary mosque, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife Begum Mumtaz Mahal. Set against the Mughal Gardens, it is a pristine architectural monument made of white marble. It was built in 16 years by thousands of artisans under the Chief Architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri and is considered as a masterpiece.

Khajurao, Madhya Pradesh

The Khajurao is a group of monuments located in Madhya Pradesh and is attributed to the Chandela dynasty. It is known for its unique artistic architecture which has survived since the 10th century. Out of the 85 temples built originally, only 22 temples are there at present.

The PInk City, Jaipur

Jaipur is a fort city in Rajasthan, built according to grid plans of Vedic architecture. The urban planning of the city shows influence of ancient Hindu, modern Mughal and western cultures. Originally built as a commercial capital, the city is an intersection of commercial, artisanal and traditional center.

Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra

The Elephanta Caves is a group of sculpted caves on Elephanta island, located in Mumbai harbour. It is dated to 5th century and it consists of 5 Hindu caves and 2 Buddhist caves. The architecture is characterised by rock cut stone sculptures.

Sundarbans, West Bengal

The Sundarbans are the largest mangrove forests in the world and is both a national park and a tiger reserve. It is situated in the Sundarbans Ganges river delta and is formed by the deposition of sediments from 3 rivers – the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. It consists of dense mangrove forests which is the home to the Bengal tiger, the salt water crocodile and various birds.

Fatehpur Sikri

Also known as the City of Victory, the Fatehpur Sikri was built by the Emperor Akbar. It includes a set of mosques, monuments and temples built in Mughal architectural style. It was built as a city which had several monuments, buildings, palaces, public spaces and courts. The site has monuments like – the Jama Masjid, the Buland Darwaza, the Panch Mahal, and the Tomb of Salim Chishti which are popular tourist attractions.

Monuments at Hampi, Karnataka

These are a group of monuments in the Hampi town in Karnataka. Located on the banks of the river Tungabhadra, it consists of Dravidian temples and palaces. It has been admired by travelers of the 14th and 16th century and is still a very important cultural and religious center for Hindus and Jains.

Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha

The Konark Sun temple is a renowned temple, located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal and built in the form of the chariot of Surya, the sun god. It is constructed with sandstone and decorated with beautiful stone carvings. It was constructed under the rule of King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty.

Books on Indian History which You Must Read

Indian History has been the theme for many books. Whether its fiction or non-fiction, there are plenty of books which deserve to be on the list of must-read books written on the topic of history. These books give one a detailed understanding of India’s history.

Be it comprehensive historical books or fictional accounts of a historical incident, there are many options for you to choose from. If you are a person who loves both reading and history then the following 5 books are just the right choice for you.

The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen

Amartya Sen is an Indian Economist and writer who had won the Nobel Prize in 1998. This book is a collection of essays and it will help one understand the Indian polity. It focusses on the importance of public debate, argument and intellectual diversity in the Indian civilization of the past. Sen writes about his view on how and what will lead to the success of democracy in India.

India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Ramachandra Guha is an Indian writer and researcher whose areas of interest include society, politics and history. India After Gandhi is a book describing the journey of modern India, from post-independence from the British in 1947 until the 1990s. The book will provide one with a thorough understanding of India’s social and economic spheres. It covers the country’s political history over the later part of the 20th century.

The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple is a Scottish historian, writer, critic, art historian and curator. He has won several awards and prizes for his writings. The book is a comprehensive description of the time period when the Mughal empire started declining in India. It will be a treat for people who love reading history. It is about the last Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar II, and it provides an account of 19th century India with the tale of the emergence of the British Raj.

Another famous book by him is White Mughals which is his fifth major book, it tells the story of the love affair between James Achilles Kirkpatrick and Khair-un-Nissa Begum at the backdrop of nineteenth century Hyderabad.

The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru was India’s first prime minister and he wrote this from 1942 – 1946. This book was written by Nehru when he was imprisoned by the British. It is a tribute to the rich cultural heritage and legacy of the country. It provides an account of all major developments in the subcontinent from the period of Indus Valley Civilization to the last years of the British rule.

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning writer, novelist and poet. The book is about the tale of the epic Mahabharata, written from the perspective of Draupadi (Panchaali). It tells the story of the woman who fights, endures a lot living in a patriarchal world. It is a historical fiction which traces the historical tale and the life of Panchaali.

The Enlightenment Age

The Age of Enlightenment, also called the Age of Reason was an intellectual revolution which dominated Europe during the 17th and 18th century. Enlightenment was the emergence and creation of ideas which challenged the existing notions of the world. It questioned the existing set of ideas and conceptions about religion, society and politics. Before this period, Europe was essentially a land dominated by religion. This intellectual movement was carried out by the Enlightenment philosophers like Baron de Montesquieu, Voltaire, David Hume and Adam Ferguson.

According to some, the beginning of the Enlightenment was after the publication of René Descartes‘ philosophy of ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ (“I think, therefore I Am”) in 1637, while others belief the publication of Isaac Newton‘s ‘Principia Mathematica’ (1687) began the Scientific Revolution and the beginning of the Enlightenment.

The philosophers and intellectuals challenged the clergy men who supported the traditional view of society. These new ideas influenced cultural practices like writing, painting, printing, music, sculpture and architecture. There was also significant progress in technology and medical science.

The key ideas of the Enlightenment were Reason, Empiricism, Science, Universalism, Individualism, Secularism, Freedom and similar others. The thinkers stressed on the primacy of reason to establish rationalist ideas based on fact. The key to expanding human knowledge was shifted upon empirical facts and scientific experiments. This concept of scientific reason was considered universal and could be applied to all situations. Philosophers opposed all traditional religious authority and stressed on the importance of knowledge free from all religious biases. They pointed out the creation of a form of knowledge which was not influenced by any religious ideas or superstitions. A secular idea was born and this spread quickly throughout Europe. This led to the belief that all individuals are same and equal despite their religious and philosophical views.

It was the idea of Individualism which was the starting point of all scientific knowledge. Science was the supreme form of knowledge as scientific facts were based on observation and experiments. This led to an increase in objective ideas and decrease in belief of superstitions. The philosophers wrote in a very direct way and took clear positions. They wrote about important changes and transitions going on in the society. A traditional social order was replaced by a modern State. The formation of a political State took place and the powers shifted from the hands of the Church to the State. Society was no longer dependent on the traditional religious institutions. It was believed that the application of reason and scientific knowledge could remove the cruelty and injustice from social institutions. The works of Voltaire instilled a desire for new ideas and belief in progress among the Europeans.

Thinkers like Saint Simon greatly influenced the societal processes. According to him modern society was threatened by anarchy and disorder. To bring back social order a Science of Society would be necessary. He constructed a ‘Social Physiology’ to bring order and stability in the society. He believed that modern society would flourish if science and industry were used for the service of humans. A major social re-organisation would be necessary to bring about order and proceed towards a successful social change which would bring about societal progress. Although his ideas were neglected at first, as Europe became engulfed with disorder and war, these ideas started influencing people. Eventually Saint Simon became a key figure in the liberal political movements of Europe.

History of Chocolate

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The first thing which comes to our mind when we hear the word chocolate is a candy or a dessert which tastes sweet. At present, Chocolate is one of the most famous food items in the world. It is consumed worldwide in different forms and is loved by foodies. At first thought we think of it as something to eat and not drink. Chocolate has a very different history and the story behind its popularity is quite an interesting one. The history of Chocolate dates back to about 450 B.C. when it was originally consumed as a bitter drink mixed with spices or corn puree. It originated in Mesoamerica where the Aztecs believed that the cocoa or cacao seeds were the gifts of the God of wisdom. It was used as an aphrodisiac which gave the drinker strength. The sweet pulp of the cacao fruit surrounding the beans, was also fermented into an alcoholic beverage at that time. Today local folks of South Mexico are still known to make such drinks.  

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The word chocolate came from the Aztec word “xocoatl” meaning a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. The cacao tree has a Latin name “Theobroma cacao” meaning Food of the Gods. In pre-modern Latin America, the cacao seeds were considered so valuable that it was used as a currency. It was one of the essential items in rations of the United States soldiers during war. According to a 16th century Aztec document 100 cacao beans could be exchanged for a good turkey hen.  

The cacao tree is native to Mesoamerica where its cultivation, consumption and cultural use began. When pollinated, the seeds of the cacao tree form a sheath, within which 30 to 40 brownish-red almond shaped beans are embedded in a sweet viscous pulp. The beans are bitter but the pulp is sweet which may have been consumed by humans at first. The cacao pods grow in a wide range of colors, like pale yellow, bright green, purple and crimson. The texture may vary from sculpted to completely smooth. The plantation of the cocoa trees is a tough process. When in natural environment, the trees can grow up to 60 feet tall but in plantations they grow only up to 20 feet.  

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Chocolate was prepared as a sweet by the European people when it arrived there. It got popularized among the rich people and eventually among the common. Christopher Columbus first came across cacao on his fourth mission to America, when he and his crew seized a canoe full of native goods for trade. He took the beans back to Spain. After it got imported to Europe, it was used as a medicine for treating abdominal diseases because of its bitter taste. After getting sweetened with the addition of sugar or honey, it became a court favorite and chocolate established a foothold in Europe within hundred years.  

In 1828, a Dutch chemist found a way to make powdered chocolate and this product became known as the Dutch cocoa. This led to the creation of solid chocolate. The first modern chocolate bar was made by Joseph Fry in 1847 by making a moldable chocolate paste. By 1868, a small company called Cadbury was making chocolate candies in England. A few years later milk chocolate was made by Nestle. In the 20th century the word chocolate includes a variety of sweet treats. Modern day chocolate is made from the hardiest but least flavorful cocoa beans and it is often said that it has more sugar and additives than actual cocoa.  

Indian Folk Art

India has always been portrayed as a land of cultural and traditional diversity. Every corner of the country has a distinctive cultural identity which is represented through different art forms. These art forms can be collectively put under the topic of Indian Folk Art. Each region has a different style and pattern of art which is practised by the rural folks. These art forms are colourful, simple and reflect the rich heritage. The country is home to around 2500 tribes and ethnic groups. So every state has a unique and interesting form of folk art.

Previously these were done using natural dyes and mostly used for decorating walls and houses. These forms which still exist today, have undergone many changes through all these years including change of medium, colours and pattern. Here are such art forms which give us a peek into the cultural heritage of different regions of the country.

MADHUBANI

Madhubani, also known as Mithila art, was developed by women of Mithila in Northern Bihar. It is characterised by line drawings, colourful patterns and motives. These were practised for hundreds of years but were discovered in 1934 by a British collonial officer during an inspection after an earthquake on house walls.

PATACHITRA

The word ‘patachitra’ derives from the Sanskrit words patta, meaning canvas and chitra, meaning picture. It is one of the oldest art forms of Odisha. It is done on canvas and portrays simple mythological themes through rich colours and motives. Some of the themes include Thia Badhia – depicting the temple of Jagannath, and Panchamukhi – depicting Lord Ganesh as a five-headed deity.

WARLI

Warli is the name of cultivator tribes belonging to Northern Maharashtra and Gujarat. Though discovered in early seventies, the roots of the art form can be traced back to as early as 10th century A.D. Mostly featuring geometrical shapes, they potray daily life, hunting, fishing and festival scenes. They show a common human figure through a circle and two triangles, which move in circles resembling the circle of life.

RAJASTHANI MINIATURE PAINTING

The art form is introduced by Mughals who brought in persian artists for creating the art. The Mughal emperor Akbar built an atelier for them to promote the artwork. They trained Indian artists who produced it in a new style inspired by the royal lives of Mughals. Eventually the paintings made by these Indian artists came to be known as Rajput or Rajasthani miniature. They are characterized by strong lines and bold colours made from minerals, precious stones, even pure gold and silver.

TANJORE ART

Orijinating in Tanjavore, about 300kms from Chennai, this art form evolved under the rulers of the Chola empire. Characterized by brilliant colour schemes, decorative jewellery with stones and remarkable gold leaf work, these paintings mostly consist themes of gods and goddesses.

KALAMEZUTHU

Simmilar to Rangoli and Kolam, this art form originated in Kerala. It mostly consists of the representation of deities like Kali and Lord Ayyappa on temple floors. Natural pigments and powders of mostly 5 colours are used by the makers and the art is done by bare fingers without the use of any tools. The 5 colour shades are made from natural pigments like – rice powder for white, burnt husk for black, turmeric for yellow, a mixture of lime and turmeric for red and the leaves of certain trees for green. Lighted oil lamps brighten the colours in the figures which usually feature anger or other emotions.

Homosexuality in Ancient India

 

“History owes an apology to the LGBT community. They were denied the fundamental right to equality, the right against discrimination and the right to live with dignity.”

– Justice Indu Malhotra

 

“Gay marriage and relationship are not compatible with nature and are not natural, so we do not support this kind of relationship. Traditionally, India’s society also does not recognise such relations.” As usual, other members of right-wing factions joined the chorus – stubbornly maintaining that homosexuality is against nature.

But are we sure about that? Can we honestly say that it was never “recognised”?

It’s impossible to talk about homosexuality in ancient India without referring to one of its most affirmative and visual ‘proofs’, so to speak. The sculptures in the Khajuraho temple of Madhya Pradesh are known for their overt homosexual imagery. The temple is popularly believed to have been built sometime around the 12th century. The sculptures embedded in the Khajuraho temple depict what seem to be sexual fluidity between man and man and woman and woman with either women erotically embracing other women or men displaying their genitals to each other, the former being more common (suggesting a tilt in favour of the male voyeur).

The story of Shikhandi, a transgender who becomes the nemesis of Pitamah Bhishma in the kurukshetra war, and the story of Arjuna turning into a transgender with the name Brihannala for a limited period due to a curse, which in fact is proved to be a blessing in disguise when the Pandavas were required to lead an incognito life at the end of their exile, are two examples of the existence of and awareness about the transgenders even during ancient times.The story of Krishna assuming female form to marry Aravan the son of Arjuna might also have been an euphemism or a veiled reference to homosexuality. During the Mughal rule, men were reportedly castrated to make them transgenders, before getting posted as sentries or servants in the Harems of the Kings where a large number of queens and other ladies were confined behind the Purdah.

I think the fact that the boys and girls getting married at a very early age (in pre adolescence and in case of girls even before attaining puberty) during older times in India also might have prevented a large number of men and women even to properly understand sex or become aware of their own sexual orientations. And in a closely knit joint family/community living systems, LGBTs might still have managed to lead the lives of their choice without openly flaunting their alternate sexuality or inviting the notice of the society to this particular behavior.

Purushayita in the Kama Sutra, a 2nd century ancient Indian Hindu text, mentions that lesbians were called “swarinis”. These women often married other women and raised children together. The book further made mention of gay men or “klibas”, which though could refer to impotent men, represented mostly men who were impotent with women due to their “homosexual tendencies”. The Kama Sutra’s homosexual man could either be effeminate or masculine. While they were known to be involved in relationships of a frivolous nature, they were also known to marry each other. The book further mentions that there were eight different kinds of marriages that existed under the Vedic system, and out of those, a homosexual marriage between two gay men or two lesbians were classified under the “gandharva” or celestial variety – “a union of love and cohabitation, without the need for parental approval”. Varuna and Mitra, famously referred to as the “same-sex couple” in the ancient Indian scripture of the Rig Veda, were often depicted riding a shark or crocodile or sitting side-by-side on a golden chariot together. According to the Shatapatha Brahmana, a prose text describing Vedic rituals, history and mythology, they are representatives of the two half-moons.

Amongst scenes from epics and legends, one invariably finds erotic images including those that modern law deems unnatural and society considers obscene. Curiously enough, similar images also embellish prayer halls and cave temples of monastic orders such as Buddhism and Jainism built around the same time. The range of erotic sculptures is wide: from dignified couples exchanging romantic glances, to wild orgies involving warriors, sages and courtesans. Occasionally one finds images depicting bestiality coupled with friezes of animals in intercourse. All rules are broken: elephants are shown copulating with tigers, monkeys molest women while men mate with asses. These images cannot be simply dismissed as perverted fantasies of an artist or his patron considering the profound ritual importance given to these shrines. There have been many explanations offered for these images – ranging from the apologetic to the ridiculous. Some scholars hold a rather puritanical view that devotees are being exhorted to leave these sexual thoughts aside before entering the sanctum sanctorum. Others believe that hidden in these images is a sacred Tantric geometry; the aspirant can either be deluded by the sexuality of the images or enlightened by deciphering the geometrical patterns therein. One school of thought considers these images to representations of either occult rites or fertility ceremonies. Another suggests that these were products of degenerate minds obsessed with sex in a corrupt phase of Indian history.

According to ancient treatises on architecture, a religious structure is incomplete unless it’s walls depicts something erotic, for sensual pleasures (kama) are as much an expression of life as are righteous conduct (dharma), economic endeavours (artha) and spiritual pursuits (moksha). Why is homosexuality considered such a big taboo in India? We marry people to trees and rocks in the name of religion but do not support a homosexual marriage.

To sum up, if we go by these popular references in Indian history and mythology, then it appears that ancient “Indian society” did indeed “recognise” homosexuality through that period, and in many cases, even accepted it. So, ultimately, it’s just factually incorrect to deny that homosexuality has been part of Indian tradition.

The Konark Sun Temple, A Magnificent Decrepitude

Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.

Konark, a small town located in the Puri, area of Odisha on the east coast of India, is the home to a 800 years old Sun Temple dedicated to the Sun God, a World Heritage Site which is now almost in ruins . The word ‘Konark’ is a combination of two words ‘Kona’ and ‘Arka’. ‘Kona’ means ‘Corner’ and ‘Arka’ means ‘Sun’, so when combines it becomes ‘Sun of the Corner’. It was built in the thirteenth Century by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty, this Sun Temple in which is also known as “Black Pagoda” due to its dull black color, is outlined as a tremendous chariot underpinned by twenty-four chariot wheels, devoted to the Sun God. Also known as Arka khetra, there are three images of the Sun God at three different sides of the temple, positioned in proper direction to catch the rays of the sun at morning, noon and evening. The Konark temple is widely known not only for its architectural greatness but also for the sophistication and abundance of sculptural work. Konark is an exceptional mixture of marvelous temple architecture, heritage, exotic beach and salient natural beauty.

Narasimhadeva had preferred the place for his proposed temple, for not only enabling him to bring his building materials from different places by the said river, but the sanctity of the was also considered by him. The beauty of the Sun-rise at that place was said to have charmed Narasimhadeva since his early life. The river Chandrabhaga which is now dead, was once flowing within a mile to the north of the temple site and was joining the sea. On its banks, existed flourishing towns and important trading centres. Trade was carried on with foreign countries as well, by sea routes, as there was no better communication other than the river in those days. Besides the sanctity and the favourable surroundings, the presence of majestic sea eternally roaring and rolling within a striking distance, was perhaps an added attraction for them.

This Sun Temple, a symbol of India’s ancient architectural skills was completed in 12 years (1243-1255 AD) with the help of 1200 workers. Beautifully designed as a chariot mounted on 24 wheels, each of diameters about 10 feet decorated by most exquisite stone carvings, and drawn by 7 strong horses, it boasts of India’s rich cultural heritage. The Sun temple follows Odissi style of architecture (except the erotic stone carvings on the walls), however a significant part of the main structure has fallen and it survives just in parts. However, it’s sad to see the present state of this temple which is almost in ruins. Although, the Sun Temple even in its available demolished state, is still a marvel to the entire world.

Erotic art is a topic that richly possesses practically all portions of the Konark Sun temple. The life-size loving couple, the vulgar priests, the ideal female figures in seductive poses along with their killer grins have made Konark a feast for the eyes of the visitors. The stone carvings display many other sites like dancers with musical instruments, beautiful doors, Giraffes eating grapes, camels and Snake God. The pleasure of seeing the flesh in abundance blended with various Kamasutra positions, gives Konark an unrivalled position in the domain of romantic art.

Every year in the month of February, Konark Dance and Music Festival is organized within the temple premises featuring Odissi dancers and sometimes noted musicians.
The 800 years old Sun Temple cannot just be regarded as a landmark of historical importance. It is much more than a world heritage site as it has the potential to amaze the scholars of many schools like Science, Astronomy, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Construction Engineering. Also it continues to impress artists and poets. In the words of Rabindranath Tagore – “The Language of stone surpasses the language of man here”.

The Sun Temple is a living testimony to the speculative, daring and the artistic sensibility of a human race that once knew how to live, love, worship and create in heroic proportions. Though Konark is turning into a ruin fast, having been empty and untouched for so long, still the magnificence of it’s architecture continues to outgrow itself so beautifully, like green patches all over with flowers above them.

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The Konark Sun Temple, a beauty in ruins.

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

It is generally said that we remember many of our misfortunes and on very few occasions only do we remember our joys. The recollection of the past normally appears to be sweet. Very often what gives one unhappiness at the moment it happens, may appear in a different light when thought of at a later date. It so happens that some feel that their past had been happy, in spite of many unfortunate or sorrowful incidents, or, disappointments. Similarly, others may feel that their past was not worth remembering so full of misfortunes it had been. In the same manner, such opinion ‘s may be held about our childhood.

A person may not like to remember his childhood days because they might have contained misfortunes or unpleasant experiences. At the beginning of life, a child is at the mercy of its parents. The child does not have any freedom of action or speech. Under the pretext that the child is prone to do mischief, others put it down and command implicit obedience from it. Sometimes, the child becomes the butt end of ridicule or punishment of even servants. When the child attains school – going age, he is under the control of teachers. In most of our schools children in the lower classes are expected to observe absolute silence. This breeds in them an inferiority or fear-complex. It is not generally understood by teachers in the lower classes that children should be given much freedom only retraining for themselves the privilege of controlling the children who might be wayward or mischievous, or when they tend to go beyond the limit of right conduct.

When such is the experiences of childhood, many persons may not like to think back upon those days. The bitterness felt in childhood is best be forgotten, they feel. It would be an unwelcome or bitter thing to bring back into the mind, the memory of unpleasant incidents or experiences and allow them to spoil the happiness of later life. In a country like India,where poverty ignorance and illiteracy dominate daily life, a child in the lower strata of life has to experience much misery. Each day of existence is one round of journey through hell. To add to these difficulties, if the surroundings and family circumstances are uncongenial, the child’s life may be absolutely intolerable and miserable. This child may in course of time be successful in life through a change of fortune or by dint of honest efforts at improvement, thus revealing a forceful character such cases, the person concerned may not like to remember childhood days. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suffered a lot during his childhood days but now he became an inspirational character in History.

However, it cannot be said that childhood days are always bitter and to be forgotten in later life. There are children born with a silver spoon in their mouth. In a family, where discipline is given foremost importance or in a family in which children are brought up with strictness tempered with mercy and kindness, the child may have happy experiences. It may be treated with kindness and understanding and may get all advantages of good breeding and training. The memory of such a childhood would be sweet to one who rises to an eminent position or is reasonably happy later on in life. It may also so happen that one who had several advantages in early life turns out to be bad or goes astray as one grows up. This may be because such a person growing up with several advantages might not be aware of the pitfalls of life. Such people also might not like to think of their childhood.

Life however is not of one uniform quality. It is neither wholly happy nor wholly unhappy. It is a mixture of the good and the bad, virtue and vice, it has its rosy side as well as the seamy side. In the life of an individual childhood consists of both these aspects and therefore, the memory of childhood may not be entirely bitter or sweet. The natural tendency of human beings in such cases is to think more of sorrow than of the joys experienced. Sorrows and miseries and misfortunes leave an indelible mark on the humankind. When one looks at one’s life in retrospect, only these experiences come first to the mind. Joyful experiences find only a secondary place though at the time they happen, they afford pleasure and satisfaction.

A successful novelist like Charles Dickens gave greater importance to the sorrowful and more unfortunate aspects of life than to the good fortunes enjoyed by some of the characters in his novels like ‘David Copperfield’ and ‘Oliver Twist’. The life of these two characters might be said to be almost reflections of the novelist ‘s life or the mirror of the miserable life of society of the times. Very rarely do people remember the joys of the earlier period. It is such an idea that Shelley speaks of the lines, “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of the Saddest thoughts” – words full of wisdom and experience.

ANCIENT INDIAN HERITAGE

India has a long history behind it, though as an independent nation it is still a rich. India is rich in almost every aspect of human activity. This richness is not of the recent past but dates back to thousands of years. We, living today, are heirs to a rich, healthy heritage which is the envy and admiration of the rest of the world. Our culture is one of the best and oldest. The nations which are highly developed and which hold an important place today in the comity of nations, were little known at a time when the glory of India was widespread. Many things have contributed to the proud heritage that has been handed over to us by our forefathers.

Evidence of our heritage and culture can be got from the excavations made in Harappa and Mohenjodaro. The Indus Valley Civilisation is one of the oldest and offers proof of a great culture that existed in the distant past. The Vedas and the Upanishads, the oldest of literatures are rich in pearls of wisdom. Spiritual and moral ‘tenets’ and guidance are got in plenty from these. They transcend boundaries of nations or creeds or religions, but apply to the whole world. Among the greatest epics of the world are the Ramayana and the Mahabaratha. The Bhagavat Gita is a Universal Document of Wisdom and Truth, holding a rich store of knowledge in various aspects of life. One who is an avid reader and follower of the Gita will get its truth instilled into one’s nature and such a one will be looked upon with love, respect and admiration by others, such is the value of the classic.undefined

Kings and Emperors in ancient days were patrons of art and literature. They have had counsellors who gave them valuable guidance and advice not only religious matters but also on the economic, social and political aspects of life. There were also men of genius who entertained the kings and the people with their poetic skill and imagination. There is no subject left untouched or unadorned by our ancients. Great men like kalidasa and kautilya will live as long as human beings inhabit this world. “Shakunthalam” and “Meghadoot” of Kalidasa and “The Arthasastra” of Kautilya are immortal. The latter is a treatise on political philosophy of the highest order.

Art, architecture, painting and sculpture, weaving, music and dance…. there is no field left undistinguished by our ancients. Artists of every description were patronised by great Emperors and Kings some of whom were themselves eminent in the arts and music.Temples are repositories of architectural beauty and monumental proof of the artistic skills of people of the past. Many examples of beautiful temples can be found. The Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu is a standing testimony to the technological protection that was the hallmark of such structures. It offers proof for the technical proficiency of the builders who did not have any of the advantages that modern technology offers to builders.

Arts and architecture of the ancients were developed later by others and even foreign rulers of India admired them and made them blend with other cultures. Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Kathak and Manipuri among dances, the Kushan, Gandhara and Guptha forms among art forms, were revelations to the innumerable foreign travelers who visited India at various times in the past. Painting was not far behind these, as is evident from the Ajantha paintings. A modern marvel of art and architecture that had its roots in the past and which is a fine legacy left to us in Mamallapuram or better known as Mahabalipuram near Chennai.

Considering all these facts, it may be said that our heritage is one of the valuable treasures handed over to us by our forefathers. Western education, adoption of Western modes of dress and ways of life, faith in rationality, disbelief in religious tenets and truths tend to undermine the value of our heritage. It is the bounden duty of everyone, every Indian worth his salt, to preserve the ancient heritage handed over to us, so that we would be in a position to pass on this wealth of wisdom to posterity. We have to see to it that divisive tendencies do not destroy the cultural heritage that has come down to us through the centuries. India and culture should ever be an inseparable combination that should act as a model and a beacon light to the rest of the world.

Mughal Fashion

Fashion has always excited me but what excites me more is the history of fashion. As a student of history, I have a habit of developing interest in everything that has a past. Clothes- a very integral part of fashion have a rich history which we must explore. Today, I’m going to introduce you to the clothing of the Mughal Era.
Mughals, for those of my readers who are unaware of these great dynasts, form a very important part of India’s history and even after so many years, continue to dominate its culture.
The Mughal clothing was characterized by luxurious styles and was made with muslin, silk, velvet and brocade.
 Elaborate patterns including dots, checks, and waves were used with colors from various dyes including cochineal, sulfate of iron, sulfate of copper and sulfate of antimony were used.

Men wore long and short robes and coats including the chogha (clothing), a long sleeved coat. A “pagri” (turban) was worn on the head and “patka”, an adorned sash, was worn on the waist. “Paijama” style pants were worn (leg coverings that gave the English word pajama). Other clothing types included: “peshwaz” style robes and “yalek” robes. Women wore “shalwar”, churidar”, “dhilja”, “garara”, and “farshi”. They wore much jewelry including earrings, nose jewelry, necklaces, bangles, belts, and anklets.

Pagri styles included: “Chau-goshia”, in four segments, the dome shaped “qubbedar”, “kashiti”, “dupalli”, embroidered “nukka dar”, and embroidered and velvet “mandil”. Shoe styles included jhuti”, “kafsh”, “charhvan”, “salim shahi” and “khurd nau” and were curved up at the front. Lucknow was known for its shoes and threading embroidery with gold and silver aughi during the era. Mughal emperor turbans usually had turban ornaments on them. They were made of gold and precious gems such as rubies, diamonds, emeralds and sapphire.

The Mughal period was one of the most popular eras of jewelry making, which is well-documented through chronicles and paintings. In fact the earlier Mughal paintings indicate that the era of Akbar’s reign gave anew life into the art, crafting a range of exotic designs. The Mughals contributed in almost all fields of development of jewelry. The use of jewelry was an integral part of the lifestyle, be it the king, men or women or even the king’s horse. Women were known to have as many as 8 complete sets of jewelry. Popular ornaments included two-inch-wide armlets worn above the elbows, bracelets or pearls at the wrist stacked high enough to impede access to the pulse, many rings (with the mirror ring worn on the right thumb customary for nearly all the inhabitants of the Zenana), strings of pearls (as many as 15 strings at a time), metal bands or strings of pearls at the bottom of their legs, and ornaments hanging in the middle of the head in the shape of star, sun, moon, or a flower.

Turban jewelry was considered a privilege of the Emperor. The constant change in the influences from Europe can be clearly witnessed in the design of the turban jewelry. Akbar stuck to Iranian trends of the time by keeping a feather plume upright at the very front of the turban. Jahangir initiated his own softer style with the weighed down plume with a large pearl. By the time of Aurangzeb, this form became more ubiquitous. Turbans were usually heavily set with jewels and fixed firmly with a gem set kalangi or aigrette. Some of the popular head ornaments worn by men were Jigha and Sarpatti, Sarpech, Kalgi, Mukut, Turra and Kalangi. Women also adorned a variety of head ornaments such as Binduli, Kotbiladar, Sekra, Siphul, Tikka and Jhumar. In addition to these, the braid ornaments constituted an important part of women’s head ornaments.

Ear ornaments were also quite popular during the Mughal times. Mughal paintings have represented earrings quite often. Ear ornaments were worn by both men and women. Mor-Bhanwar, Bali, Jhumkas, Kanphool and Pipal patra or papal patti are some of the known earrings from the period. Neck ornaments of different kinds of pearls and precious stones were worn by men and women. Some of the neck ornaments for men included Latkan, amala necklace as well as Mala. Neck ornaments formed an important part of jewelry of women also and included Guluband, Hans, Har and Hasuli. Nose ornaments were worn solely by women. It appears that nose ornaments appeared in India around the last part of the 16th century initiated by Mughals. The variety of nose ornaments worn by women during the Mughal times constituted phul, besar, laung, balu, nath and Phuli.
Owing to the relative isolation of the ladies in court, due to the Purdah, fashion in the early days of the empire adhered to traditional dress of Khurasan and Persia. In time, the social and diplomatic relationships between the Mughal Dynasty and the rest of India (Rajputana in particular), led to more exchange in accoutrements. Noble women in the court of Babur or Humayun would have begun their outfits with wide loose pants, painted or stripped. Their upper body was covered in loose garments fastened at the neck or with “V”-shaped necklines. Other articles of clothing included the Yalek: a tightly fitting nearly floor length vest, buttoned in the front, with the chest accentuated, in both short and long sleeve varieties.

Oldest libraries across the globe

In today’s fast paced world everything is being replaced by technology.  The libraries once occupied with people are losing their charm in this world of eBooks and kindles. People often choose to go for movies over a quiet reading session in the library. But libraries have been in existence since ages. The earliest libraries  emerged not long after the first civilizations started keeping written records.  

Here’s a list of world’s oldest surviving libraries:

St. Catherine’s, Egypt

The ancient library that holds thousands of centuries-old religious and historical manuscripts at the famed St. Catherine Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in South Sinai. Built between 548 and 565, the monastery is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world. The monastery library preserves the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world.

The ancient library holds around 3,300 manuscripts of mainly Christian texts in Greek, Arabic, Syriac, Georgian and Slavonic, among other languages. It also contains thousands of books and scrolls dating to the 4th century.

Al-Qarawiyyin Library ( Morocco)

Founded in 860, Qarawiyyin is believed to be the oldest working library in the world. It is part of Qarawiyyin University which, according to the UN, is the oldest operating educational institute in the world. The library was established by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a prosperous merchant from Tunisia. The library holds over 4,000 manuscripts by some of Islam’s greatest thinkers. Library’s most precious manuscript is a 9th century copy of the Qur’an.

Sorbonne Inter university Library , France (1289)

The ‘Bibliothèque interuniversitaire de la Sorbonne’ is one of the most famous and oldest libraries in the world. Containing more than two million documents in its collection, this library became a part of the University of Paris and is now operated and used by five universities.

 Wells Cathedral’s Library, England (1430)

It was the first Gothic style library to come up in England. This library is known for its unique architecture. This Library has a collection of three rooms namely Muniment Room (for early documents), the “Chained Library” (before 1800s), and the “Reading Room” (after 1800s).

Malatestiana Library , Italy (1452)

The library was built during  Renaissance period in Cesena, Italy. One of the most precious manuscripts  in this library is a 13th century illuminated Bible. The library is home to 400,000 books and is often cited as Europe’s first Civic library.

Sarasvathi Mahal Library (India’s oldest Library ,1535 AD)

This beautiful library situated in Tanjore , Tamil Nadu is known as one of the oldest libraries in Asia. The library was used as a Royal Library by the Nayak Kings of Thanjavur for their private use during their rule between 1535 and 1675 AD.

GIANTS OF A FORGOTTEN PAST……

Lets look at some of the biggest species who walked on our planet millions and millions of years ago.

Megalodon sharks

You may have heard reports that there are massive sharks prowling the oceans, three times as long as a great white and 30 times as heavy. Relax: they’re long since extinct.They were called Megalodon, and no one is quite sure how big they were. Like all sharks, its skeleton was made of cartilage rather than bone, and so did not fossilize well. As a result, we only have teeth and a few bits and pieces of vertebrae to go on. Recent estimates put it at 16-20 meters (52-65ft) long. That is significantly bigger than the largest fish alive today, whale sharks, which only reach 12.6 metres (41ft).

Titanoboa cerrejonensis

Around 60 million years ago, shortly after the demise of the dinosaurs, a snake evolved that was twice as long as the biggest modern snakes.Titanoboa cerrejonensis was 14.6m (48ft) long, and weighed in at more than a tonne. It was described in 2009, after fossilised vertebrae and skulls were found in a coal mine in Colombia.Believed to be a distant relative of the anaconda and boa constrictor, T. cerrejonensis crushed its prey to death. Its victims may have included crocodiles.Snakes rely on external heat to survive as they cannot regulate their own body temperature. T. cerrejonensis may only have reached its great size because Earth was warmer when it evolved.

Megatherium

What would an elephant-sized hamster crossed with a bear look like? Pretty odd, and perhaps a bit like Megatherium.This genus included the largest of the giant ground sloths, which lived mostly in South America from 5 million to 11,000 years ago.While not quite as big as dinosaurs or woolly mammoths, these impressive beasts were still among the biggest land animals. They were up to 6m (20ft) long.They were part of a group that includes modern tree sloths, armadillos and anteaters.Megatherium had had extremely robust skeletons. They were apparently built for strength and stability, but not speed.They also had long arms and large claws. Most scientists believe they used these to reach up into trees and grab leaves and bark that were out of reach for smaller animals.

Jaekelopterus rhenaniae

Jaekelopterus rhenaniae is an arachnophobe’s ultimate nightmare. At 2.5m long, this giant ‘sea scorpion’ has a claim to the title of largest arthropod ever to have lived.Its common name is misleading. They weren’t true scorpions, and probably scuttled about in lakes and rivers rather than the ocean. J. rhenaniae lived about 390 million years ago and spent its time chopping up fish.It was described in 2008, after a spiked claw measuring 46cm was found in a quarry in Prüm, Germany. This was all that remained of the animal. However, the ratio between claw and body size is pretty constant in sea scorpions, so researchers were able to estimate that J. rhenaniae was 233-259cm long.

Sarcosuchus imperator

It’s not just insects that have downsized over the years. Palaeontologists on a dinosaur hunt in Niger in 1997 were amazed to encounter fossilised crocodile jaw bones as long as a human.They had stumbled upon the most complete specimen to date of Sarcosuchus imperator, a prehistoric giant that hunted in the broad rivers of tropical northern Africa 110 million years ago.Also known as ‘SuperCroc’, it grew as long as 12m and weighed about 8 tons. That’s twice as long and four times as heavy as the largest of today’s crocodiles. It probably ate small dinosaurs as well as fish.It had a narrow jaw 1.8m long, containing more than 100 teeth, plus vertically tilting eye sockets and a large bony protrusion on the tip of its snout. It would have resembled the critically endangered gharials of modern India and Nepal.Despite its nickname, S. imperator wasn’t a direct ancestor of the 23 species of modern crocodilians. It belonged to an extinct reptilian family called the pholidosaurs.

Sarcosuchus imperator, also known as 'SuperCroc' (Credit: Sergey Skleznev/Alamy)

The French Revolution

As you all know, the French Revolution was a long period of social and political upheaval in France and its various colonies which began in 1789 and ended in 1799 with the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. A combination of social, economic, intellectual and political reasons led to this revolution.
Let us look at the causes of the revolution one by one.

  1. BANKRUPTCY
    The very first reason for the outbreak of the revolution was the bankruptcy of the treasury. Under the French king Louis XVI, France had helped thirteen American colonies in gaining freedom from their common enemy- Britain. The French government had spent a lot of money on the war and had incurred a debt of over 2 billion livres. The treasury was being used up for paying back the loans which the government had taken and to maintain Louis XVI’s flamboyant and extravagant court at the palace of Versailles. Thus, to meet its regular expenses like maintaining the army, the court, the universities, running of government establishments etc, the government had to increase the taxes.
    Now, we first need to understand that the French society was divided into three estates or classes- the Clergy, the nobility and the peasantry. The first two estates enjoyed a lot of privileges which included exemption from paying taxes. Hence, now the entire tax burden was on the shoulders of the poor peasantry who did not even have the resources to afford a decent living. Thus, this new burden of paying increased taxes enraged them.
  2. STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE
    The second reason which led to resentment amongst the French was the struggle they had to go through for survival. The population had increased from 23 million to about 28 million between 1715 and 1789. This led to an increase in the demand for bread but unfortunately, the production of grain did not grow in tandem with the rise in demand. Thus, the price of the bread rose rapidly.
    Now since the wages of the workers were fixed, they could not afford buying bread at increased prices which led to widespread hunger and malnutrition amongst the people and the economic gap between the rich and the poor also increased.
  3. GROWING MIDDLE CLASS
    The third reason was the growth of a middle class. Throughout the 17th and the 18th century, there was a growth in the production of textiles and subsequent rise in overseas trade. Consequently, by the 18th century, a new middle class emerged which was engaged in this trade. The members of this class believed that no group in the society should be privileged by birth. Rather, a person’s social position must depend on his merit. Philosophers like John Locke and Rousseau put forward the idea of a society based on freedom and equality. Their ideas slowly became popular amongst the common people who would widely discuss their philosophies in salons and coffee houses.
  4. ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES
    The last reason was the inefficiency and corruption in the administration, which did not pay attention to the peasantry. Added to this was the injustice the third estate (which was essentially the peasantry) was facing because of its social position.
    Hence, all these reasons forced the people of France to attack the wealthy aristocratic class including the monarch.

Megaliths

Megaliths are very interesting to learn about. They are very intriguing and for the past many decades, historians have been trying to study them in greater detail to unravel the mysteries of the prehistoric times.

Imagine seeing huge blocks of stone in a particular pattern? Won’t you be excited to know who built them? What if I tell you that these structures were built by men and women who lived thousands and thousands of years before us?

If I ask you touch a stone, do you realise that that very block of stone was once touched, picked up and placed in that particular place by the prehistoric man! Isn’t that exciting! Come, let’s delve deeper into these structures.

Let’s deconstruct the term to understand what it means. ‘Mega’ is a Latin term meaning large and ‘lith’ means stone. So from the name itself you can guess that the term ‘Megalith has something to do with huge blocks of stone. Let us understand this further.

Why were Megaliths constructed?

These were primarily burial sites or were constructed to commemorate something- for memories. There are various types of Megaliths found at such burial sites or commemorative sites. By erecting a huge piece of stone at the particular site it was easier to spot it. Just the way you see a gravestone with epitaphs on it in graveyards, similarly, a megalith acted a marker for the site.

Types of Megaliths

The burial sites contain actual burial remains such as dolmenoid cists (box-shaped stone burial chambers), cairn circles (stone circles with defined peripheries) and capstones (distinctive mushroom-shaped burial chambers found mainly in Kerala). The urn which contained the burial remains was made of terracotta. The commemorative or the memorial sites include Menhirs which are tall erect stones. Thus, these stone structures are the ones which tell us about the Megalithic culture which lasted from the Neolithic Age upto the early historical period which is 2500 BC to 200 AD. In India, archaeologists trace the majority of the megaliths to the Iron Age (1500 BC to 500 BC), though some sites precede the Iron Age, extending up to 2000 BC.

Where can we find these?

Megaliths are spread across the Indian subcontinent, though the bulk of them are found in peninsular India, concentrated in the states of Maharashtra (mainly in Vidarbha), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Even today, a living megalithic culture endures among some tribes such as the Gonds of central India and the Khasis of Meghalaya.

There were several waves of migration from 70000 BC to 40000 BC. Consequently, there are four linguistic groups in India: Austro-Asiatic (the oldest), Tibeto-Burman, Dravidian and Indo-Aryan (the most recent). As megalithic societies were preliterate that means their linguistic origins are difficult to trace, the racial or ethnic origins of the megalithic people are difficult to understand.

Extensive research has been conducted on the mortuary practices, belief systems and political economy of megalithic people which has revealed that they can be given credit for the rise of the ‘political economy’ which means a proper structured political system and an economy was put in place by the megalithic people for the very first time. This of course is just an assumption made by historians since we do not have any written evidence to support this.

Megalithic people carried out agricultural activity in both the Rabi and Kharif seasons. A large variety of grains such as rice, wheat, millet, barley lentil, black gram, horse gram, common pea, pigeon pea and Indian jujube have been recovered from habitations.

The very idea of burying the dead along with burial goods indicates strong belief in life after death and possibly rebirth among megalithic people. The respect accorded to the buried individual ensured that the grave and the goods contained within were not harmed or subjected to vandalism and theft. Paddy husk has been found in burial sites, further proof of the megalithic peoples’ commitment towards ensuring their dead a comfortable afterlife. They also believed in some idea of a soul.

The living megalithic culture in India provides strong hints regarding the belief systems of prehistoric megalithic people. “The Gond people believe in life after death, they believe that every human being has two souls: the life spirit and the shadow. The life spirit goes to ‘bada devta’ but the shadow still stays in the village after the erection of stone memorial. Gond people believe that the first and foremost duty of the shadow spirit is to watch over the moral behavior of the people and punish those who go against the tribal law,” says S. Mendaly on the living megalithic culture of the Gonds of Nuaparha in Odisha. Interestingly, the popular Indian belief in the evil eye—buri nazar in Hindi—may be a legacy of the megalithic age.

Understanding the structure of Megaliths

Building of the Megaliths, its shape, the placement of stone and the process of construction also says a lot about the society. The construction of megaliths was a massive endeavour, requiring the active involvement of the community. A very noted historian called Mendaly has made very important observations about the Megalithic society of the Gonds and I’ll be quoting him- “They invite their relatives and friends from other villages and other castes, and erect the memorial stone in a burial complex or ‘matha’. After that a sheep or goat is to be slaughtered in honour of the deceased, and its meat eaten at the feast, but before that they offer this meat to their village deity and their ancestors. They believe that the animals killed in this occasion are supposed to become the property of the deceased in the spirit world and there is the belief that if this ceremony is not organized then they face serious problems throughout the year.”

The range of iron artefacts recovered from the burials indicate that the megalithic people practised a wide range of occupations and included carpenters, cobblers, bamboo craftsmen, lapidaries engaged in gemstone work, blacksmiths, coppersmiths and goldsmiths, proof of complex social organization. Beads made of various semi-precious stones and steatite( If you have studied about the Indus Valley Civilisation, you must have come across this stone. Do check out its pictures on the internet. It’s a beautiful stone) have also been found. Bronze figurines of animals like buffaloes, goats, tigers, elephants and antelopes have been recovered from inside urn burials at the site of Adichanallur in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.

To understand where exactly does the Megalithic society stand in terms of India’s historical narrative let us look at what Korisettar has to say- ‘’Megalithism indicates the developments of a second urbanization, a chieftain society or chiefdoms, as reflected in monumental architecture as well as other aspects: surplus being generated, multiple crops including cash crops and horticultural crops, mineral, stones. Essentially, the emergence of Megalithic period marks the beginning of second urbanization in various parts of India beyond what was covered by Indus Valley Civilization.” 

The Sangam literature also has something to say about the Megaliths. The poems included in the literature describe the way burials were made thus giving historians some literary clue about the Megalithic society.

The Revolt of 1857

As a student of history, i feel this a question which most of us have had at some point and it needs to be addressed now. Whether or not can we call the revolt of 1857 the first war of independence? Now, there are two viewpoints to this. I will introduce both the ideas to you all and then you can do your research to come to a well informed conclusion.

NOT A WAR OF INDEPENDENCE

VD Savarkar was among the first to call it a war of independence. Many of his contemporaries as well as later scholars have disagreed with him. It is argued that it was neither the first nor a war and nor was it a struggle for independence.

It was not the first such uprising because it was preceded by numerous tribal and peasant revolts at local level. The Santhal revolt preceded the Sepoy mutiny by two years. Pazzhasi Raja, a chieftain in the Malabar region of what is now Kerala, struggled against the British from 1793 till his death in 1805. These are, but two examples of armed rebellion against the East India Company’s rule.

It is also misleading to call it a war. In reality, history records the events as a series of localised battles, with little or no coordination among the mutineers spread across cantonments. Moreover, the revolt was restricted to the Bengal Army. The Bombay and Madras Armies remained largely unaffected.

The most inappropriate aspect however, is the argument that the mutiny was for independence. In fact, the Indian chiefs who joined in the mutiny primarily did so over personal grievances. Nana Sahib, who led the rebellion in Kanpur, was aggrieved because the British were cutting off his pension. Rani Lakshmibai, of Jhansi was mainly concerned that her adopted son be recognised as the ruler of Jhansi (under British suzerainty). Similarly, Begum Hazrat Mahal of Lucknow lent support to the mutineers in order protect the interests of her young son Birjis Qadir. Kunwar Singh, who led the revolt at Arrah, was motivated by his desire to protect his Zamindari rights.

In fact, this diversity of interests ensured that there was no unity of purpose among the leaders of the mutiny. This was a major reason for the failure of the revolt. While the Indian protagonists had widely varying interests, the East India Company fought with the sole objective of self preservation in a land where they were hopelessly outnumbered.

It would be more appropriate to remember the mutiny as one among many events that shaped the events of the next century.

WAR OF INDEPENDENCE

The Nationalist historians have a different story to tell. According to them the fact that Hindus and Muslims came together to fight against British oppression proves that it was the first war of independence. The Revolt was not successful but well it was the first every armed struggle of such a huge impact by the Indians against the British. Even though it did not necessarily lead to freedom from the British, it made the Indians realize that they could overpower the British and establish their independent rule.

The mutiny took place in 1857 and exactly 90 years later, in 1947 India did gain independence and we must not forget that after 1857, Indians never stopped their struggle for freedom and continued to fight against the British oppression. Thus we must not in any way undermine the events of 1857.

The amount of damage inflicted upon the British by the sepoys was enough to scare them off. This was the first time when the British realised that their Raj was not going to last forever and a very strong message was put across by the Indians.

The mutiny was magnificent display of Indian unity, power and might.

Thus, with this we can answer the question raised. I would request you all to read more and analyse the mutiny in greater detail and come up with your own unique answer.