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Economy (English)

Some Important Economic Terms

Fiscal Policy

Fiscal policy pertains to public revenue (tax and non-tax sources of revenue) and Public Expenditure (Revenue Expenditure and Capital Expenditure). How and from which sources public revenue would be mobilized is one concern of the fiscal policy. The second concern how public expenditure would be allocated to different heads. Public expenditure of recurring nature is called revenue expenditure. It may be considered governments consumption expenditure whereas capital expenditure is expenditure that creates assets. Fiscal policy is kept expansionary in case economy is facing recession and it is kept contractionary if economy is facing inflation. The two prime objectives of the fiscal policy are: growth and price stability. The secondary goals may include capital formation and equity. Fiscal policy can be distinguished from monetary policy, in that fiscal policy deals with taxation and government spending and is often administered by an executive under laws of a legislature. Monetary policy, on the other hand, deals with the money supply and interest rates and is often administered by a central bank.

Fiscal deficit

The total deficit (which is often called the fiscal deficit or just the ‘deficit’) is the primary deficit plus interest payments on the debt. The difference between total revenue and total expenditure of the government is termed as fiscal deficit. It is an indication of the total borrowings needed by the government. While calculating the total revenue, borrowings are not included. The gross fiscal deficit (GFD) is the excess of total expenditure including loans net of recovery over revenue receipts (including external grants) and non-debt capital receipts. The net fiscal deficit is the gross fiscal deficit less net lending of the Central government. Generally fiscal deficit takes place either due to revenue deficit or a major hike in capital expenditure. Capital expenditure is incurred to create long-term assets such as factories, buildings and other development.

We can also differentiate between Gross Fiscal Deficit and Net Fiscal Deficit. The gross fiscal deficit (GFD) is the excess of total expenditure including loans net of recovery over revenue receipts (including external grants) and non-debt capital receipts. The net fiscal deficit is the gross fiscal deficit less netlending of the Central government.

Dumping

Dumping is a term used in the context of international trade. It’s when a country or company exports a product at a price that is lower in the foreign importing market than the price in the exporter’s domestic market. Because dumping typically involves substantial export volumes of a product, it often endangers the financial viability of the product’s manufacturers or producers in the importing nation.

Depreciation and Devaluation

Both the terms are related to fall in the purchasing capacity of a currency vis-à-vis other currencies. Depreciation occurs when the forces of supply and demand cause the value of their currency to drop. By contrast, devaluation occurs only in countries that do not allow their exchange rates to float. These countries’ governments control the official value of their currency. Thus depreciation takes place due to the invisible market forces- demand and supply of a currency vis-a-cis other currencies. Devaluation is a deliberate decision by the central bank of country to reduce or decrease the value of a currency. Thus depreciation takes place in case of a floating exchange rate under the influence of market forces. Devaluation, however, is administered or regulated exchange rate by the central bank of country. Even in floating exchange rate, the central banks intervene by supplying or absorbing foreign currency to settle the domestic currency’s exchange rate. This is called devaluation.

Basel Committee

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) is the primary global standard setter for the prudential regulation of banks and provides a forum for regular cooperation on banking supervisory matters. Its 45 members comprise central banks and bank supervisors from 28 jurisdictions. BASEL 1 Norms. Introduced in 1988. Started capital measurement system called Basel capital accord also called Basel 1. The minimum capital requirement was fixed at 8% of risk-weighted assets (RWA). Basel II is the second of the Basel Accords, (now extended and partially superseded by Basel III), which are recommendations on banking laws and regulations issued by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. The Basel II Accord was published initially in June 2004 and was intended to amend international banking standards that controlled how much capital banks were required to hold to guard against the financial and operational risks banks face. These regulations aimed to ensure that the more significant the risk a bank is exposed to, the greater the amount of capital the bank needs to hold to safeguard its solvency and overall economic stability. Basel II attempted to accomplish this by establishing risk and capital management requirements to ensure that a bank has adequate capital for the risk the bank exposes itself to through its lending, investment and trading activities. One focus was to maintain sufficient consistency of regulations so to limit competitive inequality amongst internationally active banks. Basel II was implemented in the years prior to 2008, and was only to be implemented in early 2008 in most major economies; that year’s Financial crisis intervened before Basel II could become fully effective. As Basel III was negotiated, the crisis was top of mind and accordingly more stringent standards were contemplated and quickly adopted in some key countries including in Europe and the US. Basel III (or the Third Basel Accord or Basel Standards) is a global, voluntary regulatory framework on bank capital adequacy, stress testing, and market liquidity risk. This third installment of the Basel Accords was developed in response to the deficiencies in financial regulation revealed by the financial crisis of 2007–08. It is intended to strengthen bank capital requirements by increasing bank liquidity and decreasing bank leverage.

Basel III was agreed upon by the members of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in November 2010, and was scheduled to be introduced from 2013 until 2015; however, implementation was extended repeatedly to 31 March 2019 and then again until 1 January 2022.

Main Features of Basel 3

Capital requirements- The original Basel III rule from 2010 required banks to fund themselves with 4.5% of common equity (up from 2% in Basel II) of risk-weighted assets (RWAs). Since 2015, a minimum Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) ratio of 4.5% must be maintained at all times by the bank. The minimum Tier 1 capital increases from 4% in Basel II to 6%, applicable in 2015, over RWAs. This 6% is composed of 4.5% of CET1, plus an extra 1.5% of Additional Tier 1 (AT1).

Capital Buffers-Furthermore, Basel III introduced two additional capital buffers:

A mandatory “capital conservation buffer”, equivalent to 2.5% of risk-weighted assets. Considering the 4.5% CET1 capital ratio required, banks have to hold a total of 7% CET1 capital ratio, from 2019 onwards. A “discretionary counter-cyclical buffer”, allowing national regulators to require up to an additional 2.5% of capital during periods of high credit growth. The level of this buffer ranges between 0% and 2.5% of RWA and must be met by CET1 capital.

Leverage ratio-Basel III introduced a minimum “leverage ratio”. This is a non-risk-based leverage ratio and is calculated by dividing Tier 1 capital by the bank’s average total consolidated assets (sum of the exposures of all assets and non-balance sheet items). The banks are expected to maintain a leverage ratio in excess of 3% under Basel III.

Liquidity requirements- Basel III introduced two required liquidity ratios.The “Liquidity Coverage Ratio” was supposed to require a bank to hold sufficient high-quality liquid assets to cover its total net outflows over 30 days. The Net Stable Funding Ratio was to require the available amount of stable funding to exceed the required amount of stable funding over a one-year period of extended stress.

Purchasing Power parity

One popular macroeconomic analysis metric to compare economic productivity and standards of living between countries is purchasing power parity (PPP). PPP is an economic theory that compares different countries’ currencies through a “basket of goods” approach. According to this concept, two currencies are in equilibrium—known as the currencies being at par—when a basket of goods is priced the same in both countries, taking into account the exchange rates.

Sanitary and phyto sanitary Standards

The terms pertain to WTO provisions. The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures is one of the final documents approved at the conclusion of the Uruguay Round of the Multilateral Trade Negotiations. It applies to all sanitary (relating to animals) and phytosanitary (relating to plants) (SPS) measures that may have a direct or indirect impact on international trade. The SPS agreement includes a series of understandings (trade disciplines) on how SPS measures will be established and used by countries when they establish, revise, or apply their domestic laws and regulations. Countries agree to base their SPS standards on science, and as guidance for their actions, the agreement encourages countries to use standards set by international standard setting organizations. The SPS agreement seeks to ensure that SPS measures will not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate against trade of certain other members nor be used to disguise trade restrictions. In this SPS agreement, countries maintain the sovereign right to provide the level of health protection they deem appropriate, but agree that this right will not be misused for protectionist purposes nor result in unnecessary trade barriers. A rule of equivalency rather than equality applies to the use of SPS measures. The 2012 classification of non-tariff measures (NTMs) developed by the Multi-Agency Support Team (MAST), a working group of eight international organisations, classifies SPS measures as one of 16 non-tariff measure (NTM)chapters.

Non –Tariff barriers

A nontariff barrier is a way to restrict trade using trade barriers in a form other than a tariff. Nontariff barriers include quotas, embargoes, sanctions, and levies. As part of their political or economic strategy, large developed countries frequently use nontariff barriers to control the amount of trade they conduct with other countries.

Trade Deficit

A trade deficit is an economic measure of international trade in which a country’s imports exceed its exports. A trade deficit represents an outflow of domestic currency to foreign markets. It is also referred to as a negative balance of trade (BOT).

Trade Deficit = Total Value of Imports – Total Value of Exports

Current Account Deficit

The current account deficit is a measurement of a country’s trade where the value of the goods and services it imports exceeds the value of the products it exports. The current account includes net income, such as interest and dividends, and transfers, such as foreign aid, although these components make up only a small percentage of the total current account. The current account represents a country’s foreign transactions and, like the capital account, is a component of a country’s balance of payments (BOP).

Hellicopter Money

Helicopter money is a theoretical and unorthodoxmonetary policy tool that central banks use to stimulate economies. Economist Milton Friedman introduced the framework for helicopter money in 1969, but former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke popularized it in 2002. Central banks across the globe were struggling to spur economic growth in 2016. They had used nearly all their tools to attempt to spark economic growth, including negative interest rates and stimulus programs that buy bonds every month. The Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank cut their interest rates into negative territory, attempting to stop banks from hoarding money and encouraging lending to consumers to support growth. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned of fragile global macroeconomic growth, which could lead to turbulence in the global financial markets. Consequently, central banks ended up looking for new ways to spark economic growth, such as “helicopter money,” which provided an alternative to quantitative easing (QE). Helicopter money involves the central bank or central government supplying large amounts of money to the public, as if the money was being distributed or scattered from a helicopter. Contrary to the concept of using helicopter money, central banks use quantitative easing to increase the money supply and lower interest rates by purchasing government or other financial securities from the market to spark economic growth. Unlike with helicopter money, which involves the distribution of printed money to the public, central banks use quantitative easing to create money and then purchase assets using the printed money. QE does not have a direct impact on the public, while helicopter money is made directly available to consumers to increase consumer spending.

SDRs

The SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement its member countries’ official reserves. So far SDR 204.2 billion (equivalent to about US$291 billion) have been allocated to members, including SDR 182.6 billion allocated in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis. The value of the SDR is based on a basket of five currencies—the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Chinese renminbi, the Japanese yen, and the British pound sterling. It is an accounting creation, so it is also called “paper gold.”

The SDR was created as a supplementary international reserve asset in the context of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system. The collapse of Bretton Woods system in 1973 and the shift of major currencies to floating exchange rate regimes lessened the reliance on the SDR as a global reserve asset. Nonetheless, SDR allocations can play a role in providing liquidity and supplementing member countries’ official reserves, as was the case with the 2009 allocations totaling SDR 182.6 billion to IMF members amid the global financial crisis.

The SDR serves as the unit of account of the IMF and some other international organizations.

The SDR is neither a currency nor a claim on the IMF. Rather, it is a potential claim on the freely usable currencies of IMF members. SDRs can be exchanged for these currencies.

The SDR was initially defined as equivalent to 0.888671 grams of fine gold—which, at the time, was also equivalent to one U.S. dollar. After the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, the SDR was redefined as a basket of currencies.

The SDR basket is reviewed every five years, or earlier if warranted, to ensure that the SDR reflects the relative importance of currencies in the world’s trading and financial systems. The reviews cover the key elements of the SDR method of valuation, including criteria and indicators used in selecting SDR basket currencies and the initial currency weights used in determining the amounts (number of units) of each currency in the SDR basket. These currency amounts remain fixed over the five-year SDR valuation period but the actual weights of currencies in the basket fluctuate as cross-exchange rates among the basket currencies move. The value of the SDR is determined daily based on market exchange rates. The reviews are also used to assess the appropriateness of the financial instruments comprising the SDR interest rate (SDRi) basket.

During the last review concluded in November 2015, the Board decided that the Chinese renminbi (RMB) met the criteria for inclusion in the SDR basket. Following this decision, the Chinese RMB joined the US dollar, euro, Japanese yen, and British pound sterling in the SDR basket, effective October 1, 2016.

Extended Fund Facility

The Extended Fund Facility is lending facility of the Fund of the IMF and it was established in 1974 to help countries address medium- and longer-term balance of payments problems.

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History (English)

Great Chola Temples

Chola dynasty temples are mainly located around the state of Tamilnadu. The Great Chola Temples were constructed by Chola dynasty rulers. These Hindu temples were completed between early 11th and the 12th century CE. The monuments included in the UN Heritage sites are: the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. The Brihadisvara Temple was recognised in 1987; the Temple of Gangaikondacholapuram and the Airavatesvara Temple were added as extensions to the site in 2004. The criteria on which these were included in the UN Heritage sites are as follows:

Criterion (i): The three Chola temples of Southern India represent an outstanding creative achievement in the architectural conception of the pure form of the Dravidan type of temple.

Criterion (ii): The Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur became the first great example of the Chola temples, followed by a development of which the other two properties also bear witness.

Criterion (iii): The three Great Chola Temples are an exceptional and the most outstanding testimony to the development of the architecture of the Chola Empire and the Tamil civilization in Southern India.

Criterion (iv): The Great Chola temples at Thanjavur, at Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram are outstanding examples of the architecture and the representation of the Chola ideology.

Brihadisvara Temple

The Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. It is one of the largest South Indian temples and an exemplary example of fully realized Tamil architecture. Built by Raja Raja Chola I between 1003 and 1010 AD. The original monuments of this 11th century temple were built around a moat. It included gopura, the main temple, its massive tower, inscriptions, frescoes and sculptures predominantly related to Shaivism, but also of Vaishnvaism and Shaktism traditions of Hinduism. The temple was damaged in its history and some artwork is now missing. Additional mandapam and monuments were added in centuries that followed. The temple now stands amidst fortified walls that were added after the 16th century.

Built out of granite, the vimanam tower above the sanctum is one of the tallest in South India. The temple has a massive colonnaded prakara (corridor) and one of the largest Shiva linga in India. It is also famed for the quality of its sculpture, as well as being the location that commissioned the brass Nataraja – Shiva as the lord of dance, in 11th century. The complex includes shrines for Nandi, Amman, Subrahmanyar, Ganesha, Sabhapati, Dakshinamurti, Chandesrvarar, Varahi and others. The temple is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu.

Airavatesvara Temple

The Airavatesvara Temple is in the town of Darasuram, near Kumbakonam completed in 1166 CE. It is one among a cluster of eighteen medieval era large Hindu temples in the Kumbakonam area. The temple is dedicated to Shiva. It also reverentially displays Vaishnavism and Shaktism traditions of Hinduism, along with the legends associated with sixty three Nayanars – the Bhakti movement saints of Shaivism. Named after the White Elephant of Indra, this temple is an exquisite testimony to the grand temple architecture of the Cholan Empire. It is the last of the 3 great Cholan temples built by successive generations of Kings starting from Rajaraja I. Airavateswara temple was built by Rajaraja II around 1150 AD. One of the striking features of this temple is Rajagambhira Thirumandapam – Royal Courtyard, with intricately carved pillars, long steps made of granite stones and elegant chariots drawn by horse – again hewn out of stone. You will see finer workmanship in this temple than the earlier temples. Darasuram is literally a stone’s throw away from Kumbakonam.

The stone temple incorporates a chariot structure, and includes major Vedic and Puranic deities such as Indra, Agni, Varuna, Vayu, Brahma, Surya, Vishnu, Saptamtrikas, Durga, Saraswati, Sri Devi (Lakshmi), Ganga, Yamuna, Subrahmanya, Ganesha, Kama, Rati and others. The temple was much larger and once had seven courtyards according to inscriptions. Only one courtyard survives, parts of the temple such as the gopuram is in ruins, and the main temple and associated shrines stand alone. The temple continues to attract large gatherings of Hindu pilgrims every year.

Gangaikondacholapuram Brihadisvara Temple

The Gangaikondacholapuram Brihadisvara Temple is a Hindu temple located at Gangaikondacholapuram about 70 kilometres (43 mi) from Thanjavur Brihadisvara Temple. Completed in 1035 AD by Rajendra Chola I as a part of his new capital, this Chola dynasty era temple is similar in design and has a similar name as the 11th century, and sometimes just called the Gangaikondacholapuram temple.

It is dedicated to Shiva and based on a square plan, but the temple reverentially displays Vaishnavism, Shaktism and syncretic equivalence themes of Hinduism with statues of Vishnu, Durga, Surya, Harihara, Ardhanishvara, and others. In addition to the main shrine with linga, the temple complex has a number of smaller shrines, gopura, and other monuments, with some partially ruined or restored in later centuries. The temple is famed for its bronze sculptures, artwork on its walls, the Nandi and the scale of its curvilinear tower.

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History (English)

Great non-moderate or assertive leaders of Indian National Movement: Lal- Bal- Pal

The Indian National Congress(INC) which was established in 1885 by A.O Hume was divided into two groups(in the year 1907) mainly by extremists and moderates at the Surat Session of the Congress.The period 1885-1905 was known as the period of the moderates as moderates dominated the Indian National Congress. These Moderates used petition, prayers, meetings, leaflets and pamphlets memorandum and delegations to present their demands in front of the British government. Moderates were not able to achieve notable goals other than the expansion of the legislative council by the Indian Council Act of 1892. This created dissatisfaction among the people. In 1907 the INC meeting was to be held in Nagpur and the extremists wanted Lala Lajpat Rai or Bal Gangadhar Tilak as president. But moderates wanted Rash Behari Ghosh to be president. Gopal Krishna Gokhale changed the meeting place from Nagpur to Surat fearing that if Nagpur was to be held as meeting place then Bal Gangadhar Tilak would become President. The partition of Bengal became the rise of extremism in INC. In Surat Congress a great split between the moderate and assertive nationalist leaders was seen. The main moderate leaders of the Indian national movement included among others, Dadabhai Naoroji, R.C.Dutt, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, S.N.Banerjee and.A.O.Hume. On the other hand the main extremist or assertive leaders of the movement included great names like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal and (Lal, Bal, Pal). Both the groups contributed to the cause of freedom struggle in their own manners.

The Early Nationalists were known as the Moderates. Moderate political leaders in India, who were active between 1885 and 1905, were mostly drawn from educated middle-class professionals including lawyers, teachers and government officials, many of them were educated in England. They have become known as “Early Nationalists” because they believed in demanding reforms while adopting constitutional and peaceful means to achieve their aims. The Early Nationalists had full faith in the British sense of justice, fair play, honesty, and integrity while they believed that British rule was a boon for India. The Early Nationalists were staunch believers in open-minded and moderate politics.

When the method of moderate leaders was not indicating any immediate sign of the British intention of giving right to self determination and freedom to India, a group of people came forward with more assertive and pro-active methods fro winning freedom for India. Their period existed from 1905 to 1919. When Mahatma Gandhi came to India and assumed leadership for freedom movement, both the groups –moderates and extremist or assertive leaders- continued to contribute to freedom movement during the Gandhian era, which existed from 1919 until Indian Independence in 1947.

Although moderates or early nationalists were able to politicize Indian people and highlight the highhandedness and injustices of the British rulers, they failed to achieve any tangible results. This was one of the reasons of frustration and anger among large number of people and political leaders in India. and thus what was born in the ranks of leadership was a lot more assertive group of leaders, traditionally referred to as “extremist” leaders, the words which many think should not be used. They feel that they should be described only as “nationalist leaders” without any derogatory adjective.

The contribution of Moderates

However, the achievements of the moderates or early nationalists cannot be overlooked. They created a national awakening among the people that made Indians conscious of the bonds of common political, economic, and cultural interests that united them, They also trained people in politics by popularising the ideas of democracy, civil liberties, secularism and nationalism .The Early Nationalists did pioneering work by exposing the true nature of British rule in India. They made the people realise the economic content and character of British imperialism. In doing so, they weakened the foundations of British rule in India. Their political and economic programmes established the idea that India must be ruled in the interest of the Indians. The efforts of the Early Nationalists also led to the implementation of various social reforms such as the appointment of a Public Service Commission. A resolution of the House of Commons (1893) allowing for simultaneous examination for the Indian Civil Service in London and India and appointment of the Welby Commission on Indian Expenditure (1895). They also passed The Indian Councils Act of 1892. These achievements served as the basis for nationalist movements in later years by extremist leaders. The differences between the moderates and the extremists became official in the Surat session of the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1907.

Surat Split

The differences between the moderates and the extremists became official in the Surat session of the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1907. The meeting was to take place in Nagpur that year. The extremists wanted Lala Lajpat Rai or Bal Gangadhar Tilak to be the President. But the moderates wanted Rash Behari Ghosh as President. There was a rule that the session’s President could not be from the home province. Tilak’s home province was Bombay Presidency in which Surat was also situated. So, the moderates changed the venue to Surat so that Tilak could be excluded from the presidency. The moderates also wanted to drop the resolutions on swadeshi, boycott movements and national education. Rash Behari Ghosh became the president in the session which was held at Surat. Tilak was not even allowed to speak and this angered the extremists, who wanted to cancel the session. Both sides were firm on their demands and neither was willing to find a common path. The moderates then held a separate meeting in which they reiterated the Congress goal of self-government within the British Empire and to adopt only constitutional methods to achieve their goals.

Lucknow Pact

Lucknow Pact, (December 1916), agreement made by the Indian National Congress headed by Maratha leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the All-India Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah; it was adopted by the Congress at its Lucknow session on December 29 and by the league on Dec. 31, 1916. The meeting at Lucknow marked the reunion of the moderate and radical wings of the Congress. The pact dealt both with the structure of the government of India and with the relation of the Hindu and Muslim communities.

On the former count, the proposals were an advance on Gopal Krishna Gokhale’s “political testament.” Four-fifths of the provincial and central legislatures were to be elected on a broad franchise, and half the executive council members, including those of the central executive council, were to be Indians elected by the councils themselves. Except for the provision for the central executive, these proposals were largely embodied in the Government of India Act of 1919. The Congress also agreed to separate electorates for Muslims in provincial council elections and for weightage in their favour (beyond the proportions indicated by population) in all provinces except the Punjab and Bengal, where they gave some ground to the Hindu and Sikh minorities. This pact paved the way for Hindu-Muslim cooperation in the Khilafat movement and Mohandas Gandhi’s noncooperation movement from 1920.

Lal- Bal-Pal- Here is a description of the architects of assertive Indian National Movement

Lala Lajpat Rai

Lala Lajpat Rai (28 January 1865 – 17 November 1928) was a great Indian freedom fighter. He played a pivotal role in the Indian Independence movement. He was popularly known as Punjab Kesari. He was one third of the Lal Bal Pal triumvirate. He was also associated with activities of Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company in their early stages in 1894. Lajpat Rai was born on 28 January 1865 in a Hindu Aggarwal family, as a son of Urdu and Persian government school teacher Munshi Radha Krishan Agrawal and his wife Gulab Devi Agrawal, in Dhudike (now in Moga district, Punjab). In 1877, he was married to Radha Devi Agrawal, with whom had two sons, Amrit Rai Agrawal and Pyarelal Agrawal, and a daughter, Parvati Agrawal. In 1884, his father was transferred to Rohtak and Rai came along after the completion of his studies at Lahore. In 1886, he moved to Hisar where his father was transferred, and started to practice law and became founding member of Bar council of Hisar along with Babu Churamani. Since childhood he also had a desire to serve his country and therefore took a pledge to free it from foreign rule, in the same year he also founded the Hisar district branch of the Indian National Congress and reformist Arya Samaj with other like minded people. After joining the Indian National Congress and taking part in political agitation in Punjab, Lala Lajpat Rai was deported to Mandalay, Burma (now Myanmar), without trial in May 1907. In November, however, he was allowed to return when the viceroy, Lord Minto, decided that there was insufficient evidence to hold him for subversion. Lajpat Rai’s supporters attempted to secure his election to the presidency of the party session at Surat in December 1907, but he did not succeed. Graduates of the National College, which he founded inside the Bradlaugh Hall at Lahore as an alternative to British institutions, included Bhagat Singh. He was elected President of the Indian National Congress in the Calcutta Special Session of 1920. In 1921, he founded Servants of the People Society, a non-profit welfare organisation, in Lahore, which shifted its base to Delhi after partition, and has branches in many parts of India. In 1928, the British government set up the Commission, headed by Sir John Simon, to report on the political situation in India. The Indian political parties boycotted the Commission, because it did not include a single Indian in its membership, and it met with country-wide protests. When the Commission visited Lahore on 30 October 1928, Lajpat Rai led non-violent march in protest against it. The protest was with the words “Simon go back” and black flags. The superintendent of police, James A. Scott, ordered the police to lathi (baton) charge the protesters and personally assaulted Rai. Despite being extremely injured, Rai subsequently addressed the crowd and said, “I declare that the blows struck at me today will be the last nails in the coffin of British rule in India”.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Bal Gangadhar Tilak (or Lokmanya Tilak; 23 July 1856 – 1 August 1920), born as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak, was a great nationalist, teacher, lawyer and an independence activist. He is considered by many as the first leader of the Indian Independence Movement. The British colonial authorities called him “The father of the Indian unrest.” He was also conferred with the title of “Lokmanya”, which means “accepted by the people (as their leader)”. Tilak was one of the first and strongest advocates of Swaraj (“self-rule”) and a strong radical in Indian consciousness. He is known for his quote in Marathi: “Swarajya is my birthright and I shall have it!”. He formed a close alliance with many Indian National Congress leaders including Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Aurobindo Ghose, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Tilak opposed the moderate views of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and was supported by fellow Indian nationalists Bipin Chandra Pal in Bengal and Lala Lajpat Rai in Punjab. They were referred to as the “Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate”. In 1907, the annual session of the Congress Party was held at Surat, Gujarat. Trouble broke out over the selection of the new president of the Congress between the moderate and the radical sections of the party . The party split into the radicals faction, led by Tilak, Pal and Lajpat Rai, and the moderate faction. Nationalists like Aurobindo Ghose, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai were Tilak supporters. During his lifetime among other political cases, Bal Gangadhar Tilak had been tried for Sedition Charges in three times by British India Government—in 1897, 1909,[ and 1916. In 1897, Tilak was sentenced to 18 months in prison for preaching disaffection against the Raj. In 1909, he was again charged with sedition and intensifying racial animosity between Indians and the British. The Bombay lawyer Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Tilak’s defence could not annul the evidence in Tilak’s polemical articles and Tilak was sentenced to six years in prison in Burma. On 30 April 1908, two Bengali youths, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose, threw a bomb on a carriage at Muzzafarpur, to kill the Chief Presidency Magistrate Douglas Kingsford of Calcutta fame, but erroneously killed two women traveling in it. While Chaki committed suicide when caught, Bose was hanged. Tilak, in his paper Kesari, defended the revolutionaries and called for immediate Swaraj or self-rule. The Government swiftly charged him with sedition. At the conclusion of the trial, a special jury convicted him by 7:2 majority. In passing sentence, the judge indulged in some scathing strictures against Tilak’s conduct. He threw off the judicial restraint which, to some extent, was observable in his charge to the jury. He condemned the articles as “seething with sedition”, as preaching violence, speaking of murders with approval. “You hail the advent of the bomb in India as if something had come to India for its good. I say, such journalism is a curse to the country”. Tilak was sent to Mandalay from 1908 to 1914. Later, Tilak re-united with his fellow nationalists and re-joined the Indian National Congress in 1916. He also helped found the All India Home Rule League in 1916–18, with G. S. Khaparde and Annie Besant. After years of trying to reunite the moderate and radical factions, he gave up and focused on the Home Rule League, which sought self-rule. Tilak travelled from village to village for support from farmers and locals to join the movement towards self-rule. Tilak was impressed by the Russian Revolution, and expressed his admiration for Vladimir Lenin. The league had 1400 members in April 1916, and by 1917 membership had grown to approximately 32,000. Tilak started his Home Rule League in Maharashtra, Central Provinces, and Karnataka and Berar region. Besant’s League was active in the rest part of India. Tilak said, “I regard India as my Motherland and my Goddess, the people in India are my kith and kin, and loyal and steadfast work for their political and social emancipation is my highest religion and duty”. The Deccan Education Society that Tilak founded with others in the 1880s still runs Institutions in Pune like the Fergusson College.

Bipin Chandra Pal

Bipin Chandra Pal (7 November 1858 – 20 May 1932) was a great Indian nationalist, a freedom fighter, writer, orator and social reformer of Sylheti origin. He was one of the main architects of the Swadeshi movement. He stood against the partition of Bengal. Bipin Chandra Pal was born in the village of Poil, Habiganj, Sylhet, Bengal Presidency of British India, in a Hindu Bengali Kayastha Vaishnava family. Pal is known as the ‘Father of Revolutionary Thoughts’ in India and was one of the freedom fighters of India. Pal became a major leader of the Indian National Congress. At the Madras session of congress held in 1887, Bipin Chandra Pal made a strong plea for repeal of the Arms Act which was discriminatory in nature. Along with Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak he belonged to the Lal, Bal, Pal trio that was associated with revolutionary activity. Aurobindo Ghosh and Pal were recognised as the chief exponents of a new national movement revolving around the ideals of Purna Swaraj, Swadeshi, boycott and national education. His programme consisted of Swadeshi, Boycott and national education. He preached and encouraged the use of Swadeshi and the Boycott of foreign goods to eradicate poverty and unemployment. He wanted to remove social evils from the form and arouse the feelings of nationalism through national criticism. He had no faith in mild protests in the form of Non-Cooperation with the British colonialists. On that one issue, the Assertive nationalist leader had nothing common with Mahatma Gandhi. During last six years of his life he parted company with the Congress and led a secluded life. Sri Aurobindo referred to him as one of mightiest prophets of Nationalism. As a journalist, Pal worked for Bengal Public Opinion, The Tribune and New India, where he propagated his brand of nationalism. He wrote several articles warning India of the changes happening in China and other geopolitical situations. In one of his writings, describing where the future danger for India will come from, Pal wrote under the title “Our Real Danger”. The most prominent books of Pal include Indian Nationalism, Nationality and Empire, Swaraj and the Present Situation, The Basis of Social Reform, The Soul of India.

Categories
History (English)

Mughal Architecture: A Bird’s Eye View

Mughal Architecture   developed during the period of  Mughal rulers in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.  It is  an amalgam of Islamic, Persian, Turkish and Indian architecture. Some of the remarkable features of Moghul buildings include   a uniform pattern of structure and character, large bulbous domes, slender minarets at the corners, massive halls, large vaulted gateways, and delicate ornamentation etc.

The Mughal dynasty was established after the victory of Babur at Panipat in 1526. During his five-year reign, Babur took considerable interest in erecting buildings, though few have survived. His grandson Akbar built widely, and the style developed vigorously during his reign. Among his accomplishments were Agra Fort, the fort-city of Fatehpur Sikri, and the Buland Darwaza. Akbar’s son Jahangir commissioned the Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir. Mughal architecture reached its zenith during the reign of Shah Jahan, who constructed the Taj Mahal, the Jama Masjid, the Red Fort, and the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore. After Shah Jahan Mughal architecture declined.

Main Features

Mughal Architecture incorporates Indian elements with Persian and Islamic elements. Mughal Architecture has also influenced later Indian architectural styles, including the Indo-Saracenic style of the British Raj, the Rajput style and the Sikh style.

 Some features common to many buildings are:

  • Large bulbous onion domes, sometimes surrounded by four smaller domes.
  • Use of white marble and red sandstone.
  • Use of delicate ornamentation work, including pachin kari decorative work and jali-latticed screens.
  • Monumental buildings surrounded by gardens on all four sides.
  • Mosques with large courtyards.
  • Persian and Arabic calligraphic inscriptions, including verses from the Quran.
  • Large gateways leading up to the main building.
  • Iwans on two or four sides.
  • Use of decorative chattris.

To begin with Jahangir and Akbar took lot of interest in constructing beautiful buildings based on Moghul architecture specifications. Rather than building a huge monuments like his predecessors to demonstrate their power, Shah Jahan built elegant monuments. The force and originality of this previous building style gave way under Shah Jahan to a delicate elegance and refinement of detail, illustrated in the palaces erected during his reign at Agra, Delhi and Lahore. Some examples include the Taj Mahal at Agra, the tomb of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) in the Lahore Fort and the Jama Masjid at Delhi are imposing buildings of his era, and their position and architecture have been carefully considered so as to produce a pleasing effect and feeling of spacious elegance and well-balanced proportion of parts. Shah Jahan also built sections of the Sheesh Mahal, and Naulakha pavilion, which are all enclosed in the fort. He also built a mosque named after himself in Thatta called Shahjahan Mosque. Shah Jahan also built the Red Fort in his new capital at Shah Jahanabad, now Delhi. The red sandstone Red Fort is noted for its special buildings-Diwan-i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khas. Another mosque was built during his tenure in Lahore called Wazir Khan Mosque, by Shaikh Ilm-ud-din Ansari who was the court physician to the emperor.

 Following are the important pieces of architecture during the Mughal period:

Agra fort

Agra fort is situated in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. The major part of Agra fort was built by Akbar from 1565 to 1574. The architecture of the fort adopted the features of Rajput planning and construction. Some of the important buildings in the fort are Jahangiri Mahal built for Jahangir and his family, the Moti Masjid, and Mena Bazaars. The Jahangir Mahal is an impressive structure and has a courtyard surrounded by double-storeyed halls and rooms. Agra fort is a UNESCO world heritage site

Humayun’s tomb

Situated in Delhi, Humayun’s tomb is was commissioned by Humayun’s first wife and chief consort, Empress Bega Begum (also known as Haji Begum), in 1569-70, and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas and his son, Sayyid Muhammad, Persian architects chosen by her. It was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It is often regarded as the first mature example of Mughal architecture.

Fatehpur Sikri

Situated in Fatehpur Sikri, a place near Agra, it is considered to be one of the most outstanding architectural achievements of Akbar. Fatehpur Sikri was his capital city. The construction of the walled city was started in 1569 and completed in 1574. It contained some of the most beautiful buildings – both religious and secular which testify to the Emperor’s aim of achieving social, political and religious integration. The main religious buildings were the huge Jama Masjid and small tomb of Salim Chisti. The tomb, built in 1571 in the corner of the mosque compound, is a square marble chamber with a verandah. The cenotaph has an exquisitely designed lattice screen around it. Buland Darwaza, also known as the Gate of Magnificence, was built by Akbar in 1576 to commemorate his victory over Gujarat and the Deccan. It is 40 metres high and 50 metres from the ground. The total height of the structure is about 54 metres from ground level…

The Haramsara, the royal seraglio in Fatehpur Sikri was an area where the royal women lived. The opening to the Haramsara is from the Khwabgah side separated by a row of cloisters. According to Abul Fazl, in Ain-i-Akbari, the inside of Harem was guarded by senior and active women, outside the enclosure the eunuchs were placed, and at a proper distance there were faithful Rajput guards.

Buland Darwaza

Buland Darwaza,  the “Gate of victory”, was built in 1601 A.D. by Mughal emperor Akbar to commemorate his victory over Gujarat. It is the main entrance to the palace at Fatehpur Sikri, which is 43 km from Agra, India. Buland Darwaza is the highest gateway in the world and is an example of Mughal architecture. It displays Akbar’s empire. The Buland Darwaza is made of red sandstone, decorated by white and black marble and is higher than the courtyard of the mosque. The Buland Darwaza is symmetrical and is topped by large free standing kiosks, which are the chhatris. It also has at the top center, terrace edge gallery-kiosks on the roof, stylized buckler-battlements, small minar-spires, and inlay work with white and black marble. A Persian inscription on eastern archway of the Buland Darwaza records Akbar’s conquest of Uttar Pradesh and the victory in Gujarat in 1573. An inscription on the central face of the Buland Darwaza describes Akbar’s religious openness.

The Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti

The Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti is famed as one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture in India, built during the years 1580 and 1581, along with the imperial complex at Situated near Zenana Rauza and facing south towards Buland Darwaza, within the quadrangle of the Jama Masjid which measures 350 ft. by 440 ft. It enshrines the burial place of the Sufi saint, Salim Chisti (1478 – 1572), a descendant of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer, and lived in a cavern on the ridge at Sikri. The mausoleum, constructed by Akbar as a mark of his respect for the Sufi saint, who foretold the birth of his son, who was named Prince Salim after him and later succeeded Akbar to the throne of the Mughal Empire.

Messis’s Palace

This is the largest palace in the Fatehpur Sikri seraglio, connected to the minor haramsara (where the less important harem ladies and maids would have resided) quarters. The main entrance is double storied, projecting out of the facade to create a kind of porch leading into a recessed entrance with a balcony. Inside there is a quadrangle surrounded by rooms. The columns of rooms are ornamented with a variety of Hindu sculptural motifs.

Begum Shahi Mosque 

Begum Shahi Mosque is also called the Mosque of Mariyam Zamani, which was constructed during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir in the honour of his mother, Begum Mariyam Zamani, who was also known as ‘Maharani Jodha Bai‘.Jahangir built his mother Mariyam Zamani Begum’s mosque and is just 1 km away from the tomb of Akbar near Agra at a place called Sikandra. The mosque is located inside the old Masti Gate in the Walled City of Lahore.

Wazir Khan Mosque 

The Wazir Khan Mosque is 17th century mosque located in the city of Lahore, capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab. The mosque was commissioned during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as part of an ensemble of buildings that also included the nearby Shahi Hammam baths. Construction of Wazir Khan Mosque began in 1634 C.E., and was completed in 1641. Considered to be the most ornately decorated Mughal-era mosque, Wazir Khan Mosque is renowned for its intricate faience tile work known as kashi-kari, as well as its interior surfaces that are almost entirely embellished with elaborate Mughal-era frescoes. The mosque has been under extensive restoration since 2009 under the direction of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Government of Punjab, with contributions from the governments of Germany, Norway, and the United States.

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal , which means “Crown of the Palaces” is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658). The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”. It is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India’s rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7–8 million visitors a year and in 2007, it was declared a winner of the New7Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative. The Taj Mahal houses the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan, the builder. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall. Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (U.S. $827 million). The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.

Moti Masjid

Moti Masjid , one of the “Pearl Mosques”, is a 17th-century religious building located inside the Lahore Fort. It is a small, white marble structure built by Mughal emperor Jahangir and modified by the architects of Shah Jahan, and is among his prominent extensions (such as Sheesh Mahal and Naulakha pavilion) to the Lahore Fort Complex. The mosque is located on the western side of Lahore Fort, closer to Alamgiri Gate, the main entrance. Other pearl based mosques included Mina Masjid (Gem Mosque) and Nagina Masjid (Jewel Mosque), both located in Agra Fort and completed in 1637 under Shah Jahan’s reign. The mosque, built between 1630–35, is the first among the “pearl” named named mosques, the others built by Shah Jahan in Agra Fort (1647–53), and his son Aurangzeb in the Red Fort (1659–60). The structure, located in the northwestern corner of Dewan-e-Aam quadrangle, is typical of Mughal architecture of Shah Jahan’s times. It is completely built of white marble that was brought from Makrana. The façade is composed of cusped arches and engaged baluster columns with smooth and fine contours.The mosque has three superimposed domes, two aisles of five bays, and a slightly raised central pishtaq, or portal with a rectangular frame.

The Lahore Fort

The Lahore Fort or Shahi Qila, is a citadel in the city of Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. The fortress is located at the northern end of walled city Lahore, and spreads over an area greater than 20 hectares. It contains 21 notable monuments, some of which date to the era of Emperor Akbar. The Lahore Fort is notable for having been almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century, when the Mughal Empire was at the height of its splendour and opulence. Though the site of the Lahore Fort has been inhabited for millennia, the first record of a fortified structure at the site was in regard to an 11th-century mud-brick fort. The foundations of the modern Lahore Fort date to 1566 during the reign of Emperor Akbar, who bestowed the fort with a syncretic architectural style that featured both Islamic and Hindu motifs. Additions from the Shah Jahan period are characterized by luxurious marble with inlaid Persian floral designs,  while the fort’s grand and iconic Alamgiri Gate was constructed by the last of the great Mughal Emperors, Aurangzeb, and faces the renowned Badshahi Mosque. And after the fall of the Mughal Empire, the Lahore Fort was used as the residence of Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire. The fort then passed to British colonialists after they annexed Punjab following their victory over the Sikhs at the Battle of Gujrat in February 1849. In 1981, the fort was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its “outstanding repertoire” of Mughal monuments dating from the era when the empire was at its artistic and aesthetic zenith.

Red Fort

The Red Fort is a historic fort in the city of Delhi in India. It was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for nearly 200 years, until 1856. It is located in the centre of Delhi and houses a number of museums. In addition to accommodating the emperors and their households, it was the ceremonial and political center of the Mughal state and the setting for events critically impacting the region. Constructed in 1639 by the fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as the palace of his fortified capital Shahjahanabad, the Red Fort is named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone and is adjacent to the older Salimgarh Fort, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546 AD. The imperial apartments consist of a row of pavilions, connected by a water channel known as the Stream of Paradise (Nahr-i-Bihisht). The fort complex is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity under Shah Jahan,[citation needed] and although the palace was planned according to Islamic prototypes, each pavilion contains architectural elements typical of Mughal buildings that reflect a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions. The Red Fort’s innovative architectural style, including its garden design, influenced later buildings and gardens in Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kashmir, Braj, Rohilkhand and elsewhere.

The fort was plundered of its artwork and jewels during Nadir Shah’s invasion of the Mughal Empire in 1747. Most of the fort’s precious marble structures were subsequently destroyed by the British following the Revolt of 1857. The forts’s defensive walls were largely spared, and the fortress was subsequently used as a garrison. The Red Fort was also the site where the British put the last Mughal Emperor on trial before exiling him to Yangon in 1858. Every year on the Independence day of India (15 August), the Prime Minister hoists the Indian “tricolour flag” at the main gate of the fort and delivers a nationally broadcast speech from its ramparts. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 as part of the Red Fort Complex.

Categories
Geography (English)

Great Geographical entities on earth: Where are they located?

The Himalayas

The Himalayas form a mountain range in Asia, separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. The range has many of the Earth’s highest peaks, including the highest, Mount Everest. The Himalayas include over fifty mountains exceeding 7,200 m (23,600 ft) in elevation, including ten of the fourteen 8,000-metrepeaks. By contrast, the highest peak outside Asia (Aconcagua, in the Andes) is 6,961 m (22,838 ft) tall Lifted by the subduction of the Indian tectonic plate under the Eurasian Plate, the Himalayan mountain range runs west-northwest to east-southeast in an arc 2,400 km (1,500 mi) long. Its western anchor, Nanga Parbat, lies just south of the northernmost bend of Indus river. Its eastern anchor, Namcha Barwa, is just west of the great bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo River (upper stream of the Brahmaputra River). The Himalayan range is bordered on the northwest by the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush ranges. To the north, the chain is separated from the Tibetan Plateau by a 50–60 km (31–37 mi) wide tectonic valley called the Indus-Tsangpo Suture. Towards the south the arc of the Himalaya is ringed by the very low Indo-Gangetic Plain. The range varies in width from 350 km (220 mi) in the west (Pakistan) to 150 km (93 mi) in the east (Arunachal Pradesh). The Himalayas are distinct from the other great ranges of central Asia, although sometimes the term ‘Himalaya’ (or ‘Greater Himalaya’) is loosely used to include the Karakoram and some of the other ranges.

The Alps

The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe,  separating Southern from Central and Western Europe and stretching approximately 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) across eight Alpine countries (from west to east):  France, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia. The mountains were formed over tens of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided. Extreme shortening caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentary rocks rising by thrusting and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, and at 4,810 m (15,781 ft) is the highest mountain in the Alps. The Alpine region area contains about a hundred peaks higher than 4,000 metres (13,000 ft).The altitude and size of the range affects the climate in Europe; in the mountains precipitation levels vary greatly and climatic conditions consist of distinct zones. Wildlife such as ibex live in the higher peaks to elevations of 3,400 m (11,155 ft), and plants such as Edelweiss grow in rocky areas in lower elevations as well as in higher elevations. Evidence of human habitation in the Alps goes back to the Paleolithic era. A mummified man, determined to be 5,000 years old, was discovered on a glacier at the Austrian–Italian border in 1991.

Mariana Trench

Mariana Trench, also called Marianas Trench, deep-sea trench in the floor of the western North Pacific Ocean, the deepest such trench known on Earth, located mostly east as well as south of the Mariana Islands. It is part of the western Pacific system of oceanic trenches coinciding with subduction zones—points where two adjacent tectonic plates collide, one being forced below the other. An arcing depression, the Mariana Trench stretches for more than 1,580 miles (2,540 km) with a mean width of 43 miles (69 km). The greatest depths are reached in Challenger Deep, a smaller steep-walled valley on the floor of the main trench southwest of Guam. The Mariana Trench, which is situated within the territories of the U.S. dependencies of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, was designated a U.S. national monument in 2009. The first attempt to measure the depth of the trench was made in 1875 during the Challenger Expedition (1872–76), when a sounding of 26,850 feet (8,184 metres) was obtained near the southern end of the trench. In 1899 Nero Deep (31,693 feet [9,660 metres]) was discovered southeast of Guam. That sounding was not exceeded until a 32,197-foot (9,813-metre) hole was found in the vicinity 30 years later. In 1957, during the International Geophysical Year, the Soviet research ship Vityaz sounded a new world record depth of 36,056 feet (10,990 metres) in Challenger Deep. That value was later increased to 36,201 feet (11,034 metres). Since then several measurements of the Challenger Deep have been made, using increasingly sophisticated electronic equipment.

The Bermuda Triangle

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle or Hurricane Alley, is a loosely-defined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean, where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Most reputable sources dismiss the idea that there is any mystery. The vicinity of the Bermuda Triangle is amongst the most heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world, with ships frequently crossing through it for ports in the Americas, Europe and the Caribbean islands. Cruise ships and pleasure craft regularly sail through the region, and commercial and private aircraft routinely fly over it. Popular culture has attributed various disappearances to the paranormal or activity by extraterrestrial beings. Documented evidence indicates that a significant percentage of the incidents were spurious, inaccurately reported, or embellished by later authors. The earliest suggestion of unusual disappearances in the Bermuda area appeared in a September 17, 1950, article published in The Miami Herald (Associated Press) by Edward Van Winkle Jones. Two years later, Fate magazine published “Sea Mystery at Our Back Door”, a short article by George X. Sand covering the loss of several planes and ships, including the loss of Flight 19, a group of five US Navy Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers on a training mission.

The Gobi Desert 

The Gobi Desert is a large desert or brushland region in Asia. It covers parts of Northern and Northeastern China, and of southern Mongolia. The desert basins of the Gobi are bounded by the Altai Mountains and the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia on the north, by the Taklamakan Desert to the west, by the Hexi Corridor and Tibetan Plateau to the southwest, and by the North China Plain to the southeast. The Gobi is notable in history as part of the great Mongol Empire, and as the location of several important cities along the Silk Road.The Gobi is a rain shadow desert, formed by the Tibetan Plateau blocking precipitation from the Indian Ocean reaching the Gobi territory.

The Sahara Desert

The Sahara or ‘the Great Desert’) is a desert located on the African continent. It is the largest hot desert in the world, and the third largest desert overall after Antarctica and the Arctic.Its area of 9,200,000 square kilometres (3,600,000 sq mi) is comparable to the area of China or the United States.The name ‘Sahara’ is derived from a dialectal Arabic word for “desert”, ṣaḥra. The desert comprises much of North Africa, excluding the fertile region on the Mediterranean Sea coast, the Atlas Mountains of the Maghreb, and the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan. It stretches from the Red Sea in the east and the Mediterranean in the north to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, where the landscape gradually changes from desert to coastal plains. To the south, it is bounded by the Sahel, a belt of semi-arid tropical savanna around the Niger River valley and the Sudan Region of Sub-Saharan Africa. The Sahara can be divided into several regions including: the western Sahara, the central Ahaggar Mountains, the Tibesti Mountains, the Aïr Mountains, the Ténéré desert, and the Libyan Desert.

The Kalahari Desert

The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savanna in Southern Africa extending for 900,000 square kilometres (350,000 sq mi), covering much of Botswana, parts of Namibia and regions of South Africa. It is not to be confused with the Angolan, Namibian and S. African Namib coastal desert, whose name is of Khoekhoegowa borigin and means “vast place”. Drainage of the desert is by dry valleys, seasonally inundated pans and the large salt pans of the Makgadikgadi Pan in Botswana and Etosha Pan in Namibia. The only permanent river, the Okavango, flows into a delta in the northwest, forming marshes that are rich in wildlife. Ancient dry riverbeds—called omuramba—traverse the central northern reaches of the Kalahari and provide standing pools of water during the rainy season. A semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains, the Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert, such as the Namib Desert to the west. There are small amounts of rainfall and the summer temperature is very high. The driest areas usually receive 110–200 millimetres (4.3–7.9 in) of rain per year, and the wettest just a little over 500 millimetres (20 in). The surrounding Kalahari Basin covers over 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi) extending further into Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, and encroaching into parts of Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Numerous pans exist within the Kalahari, including the Groot-vloer Pan and Verneukpan where evidence of a wetter climate exists in the form of former contouring for capturing of water. This and other pans, as well as river bottoms, were written about extensively at Sciforums by an article by Walter Wagner regarding the extensive formerly wet areas of the Kalahari. The Kalahari is extensive and extends further north where abandoned extensive roadways also exist

The Thar Desert

The Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, is a large arid region in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent that covers an area of 200,000 km2 (77,000 sq mi) and forms a natural boundary between India and Pakistan. It is the world’s 17th largest desert, and the world’s 9th largest subtropical desert. About 85% of the Thar Desert is located within India, with the remaining 15% in Pakistan. In India, it covers about 170,000 km2 (66,000 sq mi), and the remaining 30,000 km2 (12,000 sq mi) of the desert is within Pakistan. The Thar desert forms approximately 5%(~4.56%) of the total geographic area of India. More than 60% of the desert lies in the state of Rajasthan, and extends into Gujarat, Punjab, and Haryana.The desert comprises a very dry part, the Marusthali region in the west, and a semidesert region in the east with fewer sand dunes and slightly more precipitation.

Arabian Desert

The Arabian Desert is a vast desert wilderness in Western Asia. It stretches from Yemen to the Persian Gulf and Oman to Jordan and Iraq. It occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula, with an area of 2,330,000 square kilometers (900,000 sq mi). It is the fifth largest desert in the world, and the largest in Asia. At its center is Ar-Rub’al-Khali (The Empty Quarter), one of the largest continuous bodies of sand in the world.Gazelles, oryx, sand cats, and spiny-tailed lizards are just some of the desert-adapted species that survive in this extreme environment, which features everything from red dunes to deadly quicksand. The climate is mostly dry (the major part receives around 100 mm (3.9 in) of rain per year but some very rare places receives down to 50 mm), and temperatures oscillate between very high heat and seasonal night time freezes. It is part of the deserts and xeric shrublands biome and the Palearctic ecozone.

Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert  is a desert plateau in South America covering a 1000-km (600-mi) strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes mountains. The Atacama desert is one of the driest places in the world (the driest being the McMurdo Dry Valleys , as well as the only true desert to receive less precipitation than the polar deserts. According to estimates, the Atacama Desert occupies 105,000 km2 (41,000 sq mi), or 128,000 km2 (49,000 sq mi) if the barren lower slopes of the Andes are included. Most of the desert is composed of stony terrain, salt lakes (salares), sand, and felsic lava that flows towards the Andes. The desert owes its extreme aridity to a constant temperature inversion due to the cool north-flowing Humboldt ocean current, and to the presence of the strong Pacific anticyclone. The most arid region of the Atacama desert is situated between two mountain chains (the Andes and the Chilean Coast Range) of sufficient height to prevent moisture advection from either the Pacific or the Atlantic Oceans, a two-sided rain shadow.

Sonoran Desert

The Sonoran Desert  is a North American desert which covers large parts of the Southwestern United States in Arizona and California and of Northwestern Mexico in Sonora, Baja California, and Baja California Sur. It is the hottest desert in Mexico. It has an area of 260,000 square kilometers (100,000 sq mi). The western portion of the United States–Mexico border passes through the Sonoran Desert. The desert contains a variety of unique and endemic plants and animals, such as the saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) and organ pipe cactus (Stenocereus thurberi).

Amazon River

The Amazon River  in South America is the largest river by discharge volume of water in the world, and by some definitions it is the longest. The headwaters of the Apurímac River on Nevado Mismi had been considered for nearly a century as the Amazon’s most distant source, until a 2014 study found it to be the headwaters of the Mantaro River on the Cordillera Rumi Cruz in Peru.The Mantaro and Apurímac join, and with other tributaries form the Ucayali River, which in turn meets the Marañón River upstream of Iquitos, Peru, to form what countries other than Brazil consider to be the main stem of the Amazon. Brazilians call this section the Solimões River above its confluence with the Rio Negro to form what Brazilians call the Amazon at the Meeting of Waters  at Manaus, the river’s largest city. At an average discharge of about 209,000 cubic metres per second (7,400,000 cu ft/s; 209,000,000 L/s; 55,000,000 USgal/s)—approximately 6,591 cubic kilometres per annum (1,581 cu mi/a), greater than the next seven largest independent rivers combined—the Amazon represents 20% of the global riverine discharge to the ocean. The Amazon basin is the largest drainage basin in the world, with an area of approximately 7,050,000 square kilometres (2,720,000 sq mi). The Amazon River is disputed longest river in the world (Brazilian government claims it to be longer than the Nile, while every other nation claims that the Nile is the longest River in the world). The portion of the river’s drainage basin in Brazil alone is larger than any other river’s basin. The Amazon enters Brazil with only one-fifth of the flow it finally discharges into the Atlantic Ocean, yet already has a greater flow at this point than the discharge of any other river.

Brahamaputra River

The Brahmaputra is one of the major rivers of Asia, a trans-boundary river which flows through China, India and Bangladesh. As such, it is known by various names in the region such as   Brohmoputro noi in Assam, masculine form of the tatsama ‘nodi “river”) Brohmoputro; Brahmaputra in Sanskrit ;  and yar klung gtsang po Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibetan language. It is also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra (when referring to the whole river including the stretch within Tibet). The Manas River, which runs through Bhutan, joins it at Jogighopa, in India. It is the ninth largest river in the world by discharge, and the 15th longest. With its origin in the Manasarovar Lake region, located on the northern side of the Himalayas in Burang County of Tibet as the Yarlung Tsangpo River, it flows across southern Tibet to break through the Himalayas in great gorges (including the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon) and into Arunachal Pradesh (India). It flows southwest through the Assam Valley as Brahmaputra and south through Bangladesh as the Jamuna (not to be mistaken with Yamuna of India). In the vast Ganges Delta, it merges with the Padma, the popular name of the river Ganges in Bangladesh, and finally the Meghna and from here it is known as Meghna before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. About 2,899.9 km (1,801.9 mi) long, the Brahmaputra is an important river for irrigation and transportation. The basin, especially south of Tibet, is characterized by high levels of rainfall. Kanchenjunga (8,586 m) is the only peak above 8,000 m, hence is the highest point within the Brahmaputra basin.

Ganges River

The Ganges  flows through the nations of India and Bangladesh. The 2,525 km (1,569 mi) river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India. After entering West Bengal, it divides into two rivers: the Hooghly and the Padma River. The Hooghly, or Adi Ganga, flows through several districts of West Bengal and into the Bay of Bengal near Sagar Island. The other, the Padma, also flows into and through Bangladesh, and joins the Meghna river which ultimately empties into the Bay of Bengal.

The Ganges is highly polluted. Pollution threatens not only humans, but also more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganges river dolphin. The Ganges is a major source of global ocean plastic pollution. The levels of fecal coliform bacteria from human waste in the waters of the river near Varanasi are more than 100 times the Indian government’s official limit. The Ganga Action Plan, an environmental initiative to clean up the river, has been a major failure thus far, due to rampant corruption, lack of will on behalf of the government and its bureaucracy, lack of technical expertise, poor environmental planning, and lack of support from religious authorities.

The Indus River

The Indus River (locally called Sindhu) is one of the longest rivers in Asia. Originating in the Tibetan Plateau in the vicinity of Lake Manasarovar, the river runs a course through the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, India, towards the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan and the Hindukush ranges, and then flows in a southerly direction along the entire length of Pakistan to merge into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi in Sindh. It is the longest river and national river of Pakistan. The river has a total drainage area exceeding 1,165,000 km2 (450,000 sq mi). Its estimated annual flow stands at around 243 km3(58 cu mi), twice that of the Nile River and three times that of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers combined, making it one of the largest rivers in the world in terms of annual flow. The Zanskar is its left bank tributary in Ladakh. In the plains, its left bank tributary is the Panjnad which itself has five major tributaries, namely, the Chenab, Jhelum, the Ravi, the Beas, and the Sutlej. Its principal right bank tributaries are the Shyok, the Gilgit, the Kabul, the Gomal, and the Kurram. Beginning in a mountain spring and fed with glaciers and rivers in the Himalayas, the river supports ecosystems of temperate forests, plains and arid countryside.

The Yellow River

Yellow River or Huang He  is the second longest river in China, after the Yangtze River, and the sixth longest river system in the world at the estimated length of 5,464 km (3,395 mi). Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai province of Western China, it flows through nine provinces, and it empties into the Bohai Sea near the city of Dongying in Shandong province. The Yellow River basin has an east–west extent of about 1,900 kilometers (1,180 mi) and a north–south extent of about 1,100 km (680 mi). Its total drainage area is about 752,546 square kilometers (290,560 sq mi). Its basin was the birthplace of ancient Chinese civilization, and it was the most prosperous region in early Chinese history. There are frequent devastating floods and course changes produced by the continual elevation of the river bed, sometimes above the level of its surrounding farm fields.

Volga

The Volga  is the longest river in Europe with a catchment area of 1,350,000 square kilometres. It is also Europe’s largest river in terms of discharge and drainage basin. The river flows through central Russia and into the Caspian Sea, and is widely regarded as the national river of Russia.

Eleven of the twenty largest cities of Russia, including the capital, Moscow, are located in the Volga’s drainage basin. Rising in the Valdai Hills 225 meters (738 ft) above sea level northwest of Moscow and about 320 kilometers (200 mi) southeast of Saint Petersburg, the Volga heads east past Lake Sterzh, Tver, Dubna, Rybinsk, Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, and Kazan. From there it turns south, flows past Ulyanovsk, Tolyatti, Samara, Saratov and Volgograd, and discharges into the Caspian Sea below Astrakhan at 28 meters (92 ft) below sea level. At its most strategic point, it bends toward the Don (“the big bend”). Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, is located there. The fertile river valley provides large quantities of wheat, and also has many mineral riches. A substantial petroleum industry centers on the Volga valley. Other resources include natural gas, salt, and potash. The Volga Delta and the nearby Caspian Sea offer superb fishing grounds. Astrakhan, at the delta, is the center of the caviar industry.

The Danube River

The Danube is Europe’s second longest river, after the Volga. It is located in Central and Eastern Europe. The Danube was once a long-standing frontier of the Roman Empire, and today flows through 10 countries, more than any other river in the world. Originating in Germany, the Danube flows southeast for 2,850 km (1,770 mi), passing through or bordering Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine before draining into the Black Sea. Its drainage basin extends into nine more countries. The Danube river basin is home to fish species such as pike, zander, huchen, Wels catfish, burbot and tench. It is also home to a large diversity of carp and sturgeon, as well as salmon and trout. A few species of euryhaline fish, such as European seabass, mullet, and eel, inhabit the Danube Delta and the lower portion of the river. Since ancient times, the Danube has become a traditional trade route in Europe, nowadays 2,415 km (1,501 mi) of its total length being navigable. The river is also an important source of energy and drinking water.

Rhine River

The Rhine  is one of the major European rivers, which has its sources in Switzerland and flows in a mostly northerly direction through Germany and The Netherlands, emptying into the North Sea. The river begins in the Swiss canton of Graubünden in the southeastern Swiss Alps, forms part of the Swiss-Liechtenstein, Swiss-Austrian, Swiss-German and then the Franco-German border, then flows through the German Rhineland and the Netherlands and eventually empties into the North Sea. The largest city on the Rhine is Cologne, Germany, with a population of more than 1,050,000 people. It is the second-longest river in Central and Western Europe (after the Danube), at about 1,230 km (760 mi),with an average discharge of about 2,900 m3/s (100,000 cu ft/s). The Rhine and the Danube formed most of the northern inland frontier of the Roman Empire and, since those days, the Rhine has been a vital and navigable waterway carrying trade and goods deep inland. Its importance as a waterway in the Holy Roman Empire is supported by the many castles and fortifications built along it. In the modern era, it has become a symbol of German nationalism.Other important cities on the Rhine are Düsseldorf (Germany), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Strasbourg (France) and Basel (Switzerland).

The Kama

The Kama is a river 1,805 kilometres (1,122 mi) long in Russia. It is the longest left tributary of the Volga and the largest one in discharge. At their confluence, in fact, the Kama is even larger than the Volga. It starts in the Udmurt Republic, near Kuliga, flowing northwest for 200 kilometres (120 mi), turning northeast near Loyno for another 200 kilometres (120 mi), then turning south and west in Perm Krai, flowing again through the Udmurt Republic and then through the Republic of Tatarstan, where it meets the Volga.

The Moskva River

The Moskva River  is a river of western Russia. It rises about 140 km (90 mi) west of Moscow, and flows roughly east through the Smolensk and Moscow Oblasts, passing through central Moscow. About 110 km (70 mi) south east of Moscow, at the city of Kolomna, it flows into the Oka River, itself a tributary of the Volga, which ultimately flows into the Caspian Sea. The river is 503 km (313 mi) long, with a vertical drop of 155 m (509 ft) (long-term average In Moscow, the river freezes occasionally; during an unusually warm winter in 2006–2007, ice began melting on January 25.

The Seine

The Seine  is a 777-kilometre-long (483 mi) river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Source-Seine, 30 kilometres (19 mi) northwest of Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre (and Honfleur on the left bank). It is navigable by ocean-going vessels as far as Rouen, 120 kilometres (75 mi) from the sea. Over 60 percent of its length, as far as Burgundy, is negotiable by commercial riverboats, and nearly its whole length is available for recreational boating; excursion boats offer sightseeing tours of the river banks in Paris, lined with top monuments including Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and Musée d’Orsay.

Tigris River

The Tigris is the eastern of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq and empties into the Persian Gulf. The Tigris is 1,750 km long, rising in the Taurus Mountains of eastern Turkey about 25 km southeast of the city of Elazig and about 30 km from the headwaters of the Euphrates. The river then flows for 400 km through Turkish territory before becoming the border between Syria and Turkey. This stretch of 44 km is the only part of the river that is located in Syria. Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, stands on the banks of the Tigris. The port city of Basra straddles the Shatt al-Arab. In ancient times, many of the great cities of Mesopotamia stood on or near the Tigris, drawing water from it to irrigate the civilization of the Sumerians. Notable Tigris-side cities included Nineveh, Ctesiphon, and Seleucia, while the city of Lagash was irrigated by the Tigris via a canal dug around 2900 B.C.

Potomac River

The Potomac River is located within the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and flows from the Potomac Highlands into the Chesapeake Bay. The river (main stem and North Branch) is approximately 405 miles (652 km) long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles (38,000 km2). In terms of area, this makes the Potomac River the fourth largest river along the Atlantic coast of the United States and the 21st largest in the United States. Over 5 million people live within the Potomac watershed. The river forms part of the borders between Maryland and Washington, D.C., on the left descending bank and West Virginia and Virginia on the river’s right descending bank. The majority of the lower Potomac River is part of Maryland. Exceptions include a small tidal portion within the District of Columbia, and the border with Virginia being delineated from “point to point” (thus various bays and shoreline indentations lie in Virginia). Except for a small portion of its headwaters in West Virginia, the North Branch Potomac River is considered part of Maryland to the low water mark on the opposite bank. The South Branch Potomac River lies completely within the state of West Virginia except for its headwaters, which lie in Virginia.

Hudson River

The Hudson River is a 315-mile (507 km) river that flows from north to south primarily through eastern New York in the United States. The river originates in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, flows southward through the Hudson Valley to the Upper New York Bay between New York City and Jersey City. It eventually drains into the Atlantic Ocean at New York Harbor. The river serves as a political boundary between the states of New Jersey and New York at its southern end. Further north, it marks local boundaries between several New York counties. The lower half of the river is a tidal estuary, deeper than the body of water into which it flows, occupying the Hudson Fjord, an inlet which formed during the most recent period of North American glaciation, estimated at 26,000 to 13,300 years ago. Tidal waters influence the Hudson’s flow from as far north as the city of Troy. The river is named after Henry Hudson, an Englishman sailing for the Dutch East India Company, who explored it in 1609, and after whom Hudson Bay in Canada is also named.

Nile River

The Nile is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa, and is the longest river in Africa and the disputed longest river in the world (Brazilian government claims that the Amazon River is longer than the Nile). The Nile, which is about 6,650 km (4,130 mi) long, is an “international” river as its drainage basin covers eleven countries, namely, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of the Sudan and Egypt. In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.The river Nile has two major tributaries, the White Nile and Blue Nile. The White Nile is considered to be the headwaters and primary stream of the Nile itself. The Blue Nile, however, is the source of most of the water and silt. The White Nile is longer and rises in the Great Lakes region of central Africa, with the most distant source still undetermined but located in either Rwanda or Burundi. It flows north through Tanzania, Lake Victoria, Uganda and South Sudan. The Blue Nile begins at Lake Tana in Ethiopia and flows into Sudan from the southeast. The two rivers meet just north of the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. The northern section of the river flows north almost entirely through the Sudanese desert to Egypt, then ends in a large delta and flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Egyptian civilization and Sudanese kingdoms have depended on the river since ancient times. Most of the population and cities of Egypt lie along those parts of the Nile valley north of Aswan, and nearly all the cultural and historical sites of Ancient Egypt are found along river banks.

Congo River

The great Congo River , formerly known as the Zaire River under the Mobutu regime, is the second longest river in Africa, shorter only than the Nile, as well as the second largest river in the world by discharge volume, following only the Amazon. It is also the world’s deepest recorded river, with measured depths in excess of 220 m (720 ft). The Congo-Lualaba-Chambeshi River system has an overall length of 4,700 km (2,920 mi), which makes it the world’s ninth-longest river. The Chambeshi is a tributary of the Lualaba River, and Lualaba is the name of the Congo River upstream of Boyoma Falls, extending for 1,800 km (1,120 mi). Measured along with the Lualaba, the main tributary, the Congo River has a total length of 4,370 km (2,715 mi). It is the only river to cross the equator twice.The Congo Basin has a total area of about 4,000,000 km2 (1,500,000 sq mi), or 13% of the entire African landmass.

The Niger River

The Niger River  is the principal river of West Africa, extending about 4,180 km (2,600 mi). Its drainage basin is 2,117,700 km2 (817,600 sq mi) in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea. It runs in a crescent through Mali, Niger, on the border with Benin and then through Nigeria, discharging through a massive delta, known as the Niger Delta or the Oil Rivers, into the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. The Niger is the third-longest river in Africa, exceeded only by the Nile and the Congo River (also known as the Zaïre River). Its main tributary is the Benue River. The Niger River is a relatively “clear” river, carrying only a tenth as much sediment as the Nile because the Niger’s headwaters lie in ancient rocks that provide little silt. Like the Nile, the Niger floods yearly; this begins in September, peaks in November, and finishes by May. The Niger takes one of the most unusual routes of any major river, a boomerang shape that baffled geographers for two centuries. Its source is just 240 km (150 mi) inland from the Atlantic Ocean, but the river runs directly away from the sea into the Sahara Desert, then takes a sharp right turn near the ancient city of Timbuktu (Tombouctou) and heads southeast to the Gulf of Guinea. An unusual feature of the river is the Inner Niger Delta, which forms where its gradient suddenly decreases. The result is a region of braided streams, marshes, and lakes the size of Belgium; the seasonal floods make the Delta extremely productive for both fishing and agriculture.

The  Andean Mountains

The  Andean Mountains are the longest continental mountain range in the world, forming a continuous highland along the western edge of South America. This range is about 7,000 km (4,300 mi) long, about 200 to 700 km (120 to 430 mi) wide (widest between 18° south and 20° south latitude), and of an average height of about 4,000 m (13,000 ft). The Andes extend from north to south through seven South American countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Along their length, the Andes are split into several ranges, separated by intermediate depressions. The Andes are the location of several high plateaus – some of which host major cities such as Quito, Bogotá, Cali, Arequipa, Medellín, Sucre, Mérida and La Paz. The Altiplano plateau is the world’s second-highest after the Tibetan plateau. These ranges are in turn grouped into three major divisions based on climate: the Tropical Andes, the Dry Andes, and the Wet Andes.The Andes Mountains are the world’s highest mountain range outside Asia. The highest mountain outside Asia, Argentina’s Mount Aconcagua, rises to an elevation of about 6,961 m (22,838 ft) above sea level. The peak of Chimborazo in the Ecuadorian Andes is farther from the Earth’s center than any other location on the Earth’s surface, due to the equatorial bulge resulting from the Earth’s rotation. The world’s highest volcanoes are in the Andes, including Ojos del Salado on the Chile-Argentina border, which rises to 6,893 m (22,615 ft). The Andes are also part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges (cordillera) that consists of an almost continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western “backbone” of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica.

The Tibetan Plateau

The Tibetan Plateau is a vast elevated plateau in Central Asia and East Asia, covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai in western China, as well as Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) and Lahaul & Spiti (Himachal Pradesh) in India. It stretches approximately 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) north to south and 2,500 kilometres (1,600 mi) east to west. With an average elevation exceeding 4,500 metres (14,800 ft), the Tibetan Plateau is sometimes called “the Roof of the World” because it stands over 3 miles (4.8 km) above sea level and is surrounded by imposing mountain ranges that harbor the world’s two highest summits, Mount Everest and K2, and is the world’s highest and largest plateau, with an area of 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi) (about five times the size of Metropolitan France). Sometimes termed the Third Pole, the Tibetan Plateau contains the headwaters of the drainage basinsof most of the streams in surrounding regions. Its tens of thousands of glaciers and other geographical and ecological features serve as a “water tower” storing water and maintaining flow. The impact of global warming on the Tibetan Plateau is of intense scientific interest.

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Polity and International Relations (English)

Making of Constitution of India: How did it evolve?

India is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic which is governed by Constitution of India adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November, 1949. The Constitution is a set of laws and rules that set sets up the machinery of the Government of a state, and which defines and determines the relations between the different institutions and components of the government, the executives, the legislature, the judiciary, the central and the local government. The Indian constitution came into force on 26th January, 1950. It provides for a Parliamentary form of government with a federal in structure with certain unitary features. When the Indian constitution was made, it had 395 articles which were distributed in 22 parts and 8 schedules. January 2019, there have been 124 Amendment Bills and 103 Amendment acts to the Constitution of India since it was first enacted in 1950.

 At present, there are 448 articles present in the Indian constitution which are distributed in 25 parts, 12 schedules, and 5 appendices.

The Constitutional heads

The constitutional head of the Executive of the Union is the President. As per Article 79 of the Constitution of India, the council of the Parliament of the Union consists of the President and two Houses known as the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha). Article 74(1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as its head to aid and advise the President, who shall exercise his/her functions in accordance to the advice. The real executive power is thus vested in the Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as its head.

The makers of Indian constitution

The making of the Indian constitution was a long drawn process in which many illustrious leaders and experts from India participated. Some of most well known participants in the process of constitution making included Dr B.R. Ambedkar, Sanjay Phakey, Jawaharlal Nehru, C. Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Kanaiyalal Munshi, Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar, Sandipkumar Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Nalini Ranjan Ghosh, and Balwantrai Mehta etc. The first draft of the Indian Constitution, which was completed on 26th November 1949 is no less than a masterpiece. While Nandalal Bose and his students designed the borders of every page and adorned it with beautiful art pieces, it was the singlehanded effort of Prem Behari Narain Raizada (Saxena) that brought the primary contents and the preamble to the Constitution, to life. Shri Prem Behari was born on 17 December 1901, in a family of traditional calligraphists.

The Constituent Assembly of India

An idea for a Constituent Assembly was proposed in 1934 by M. N. Roy, a pioneer of the Communist movement in India and an advocate of radical democracy. It became an official demand of the Indian National Congress in 1935, C. Rajagopalachari voiced the demand for a Constituent Assembly on 15 November 1939 based on adult franchise, and was accepted by the British in August 1940. On 8 August 1940, a statement was made by Viceroy Lord Linlithgow about the expansion of the Governor-General’s Executive Council and the establishment of a War Advisory Council. This offer, known as the August Offer, included giving full weight to minority opinions and allowing Indians to draft their own constitution. Under the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946, elections were held for the first time for the Constituent Assembly. The Constitution of India was drafted by the Constituent Assembly, and it was implemented under the Cabinet Mission Plan on 16 May 1946. The members of the Constituent Assembly were elected by the provincial assemblies by a single, transferable-vote system of proportional representation. The total membership of the Constituent Assembly was 389: 292 were representatives of the states, 93 represented the princely states and four were from the chief commissioner provinces of Delhi, Ajmer-Merwara, Coorg (Near Madikeri) and British Baluchistan.

The elections for the 296 seats assigned to the British Indian provinces were completed by August 1946. Congress won 208 seats, and the Muslim League 73. After this election, the Muslim League refused to cooperate with the Congress, and the political situation deteriorated. Hindu-Muslim riots began, and the Muslim League demanded a separate constituent assembly for Muslims in India. On 3 June 1947 Lord Mountbatten, the last British Governor-General of India, announced his intention to scrap the Cabinet Mission Plan; this culminated in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and the separate nations of India and Pakistan. The Indian Independence Act was passed on 18 July 1947 and, although it was earlier declared that India would become independent in June 1948, this event led to independence on 15 August 1947. The Constituent Assembly (elected for an undivided India) met for the first time on 9 December 1946, reassembling on 14 August 1947 as a sovereign body and successor to the British parliament’s authority in India. As a result of the partition, under the Mountbatten plan, a separate Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was established on 3 June 1947. The representatives of the areas incorporated into Pakistan ceased to be members of the Constituent Assembly of India. New elections were held for the West Punjab and East Bengal (which became part of Pakistan, although East Bengal later seceded to become Bangladesh); the membership of the Constituent Assembly was 299 after the reorganization, and it met on 31 December 1947.

Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly of India came into existence as per the provisions of Cabinet Mission Plan of May 1946. Its task was to formulate constitution/s for facilitating appropriate transfer of sovereign power from British authorities to Indian hands.The Assembly was to have proportional representation from existing provincial legislatures and from various princely states. Bulk of these elections was completed by the end of July 1946, under the supervision of Reforms Office under Governor General (Viceroy). The Assembly was to have three sections: Punjab & North-West, Bengal-Assam and Rest of India. The Constitutions were to be formulated for Indian Union, each Section and for each of the Provinces therein. The Muslim League, which had won bulk of the 80 Muslim seats and dominated two smaller Sections, chose not to participate so the Assembly never convened separately in sections. Assembly held 12 sessions, or rounds of sittings.

Chairman of the drafting committee: Dr. B. R. Ambedkar- Upon India’s independence on 15 August 1947, the new Congress-led government invited Ambedkar to serve as the nation’s first Law and Justice Minister, which he accepted. On 29 August, he was appointed Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, and was appointed by the Constituent Assembly to write India’s new Constitution. Ambedkar was a wise constitutional expert, he had studied the constitutions of about 60 countries. Ambedkar is recognised as the “Father of the Constitution of India”. In 1990, the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, was posthumously conferred upon Ambedkar.

Chairman of Constituent Assembly of India- Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Indian National Congress- Upon independence in 1947, Prasad was elected as President of the [Constituent Assembly of India], which prepared the [Constitution of India] and served as its provisional parliament. He was elected the President of Constituent Assembly on 11 December 1946. Two and a half years after independence, on 26 January 1950, the Constitution of independent India was ratified and Prasad was elected the nation’s first president. The Mughal Gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan were open to public for about a month for the first time during his tenure.  In 1962, after serving twelve years as the president, he announced his decision to retire. After relinquishing the office of the President of India on May 1962, he returned to Patna on 14 May 1962 and preferred to stay in the campus of Bihar Vidyapeeth. He was subsequently awarded the Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian award.

Interim Chairman: Sachchidananda Sinha, Indian National Congress-. He was named the Interim President of the Constituent Assembly of India on 9 December 1946. He was replaced by Dr. Rajendra Prasad after indirect election on 11 December 1946. Sinha began his career as an advocate in 1893 practicing in the Calcutta High Court. He subsequently practiced in the Allahabad High Court starting 1896 and Patna High Court starting 1916.In his early years, Sinha was a member of the Indian National Congress, from 1899 till 1920, serving one term as secretary. He participated in the Home Rule League Movement. He was a member of the Imperial Legislative Council from 1910 to 1920 and the Indian Legislative Assembly. He was Deputy President of the Assembly in 1921. He also held the office of the President in the Bihar and Orissa Legislative Council. He was appointed Executive Councillor and Finance Member of the Government of Bihar and Orissa, and, thus, was the first Indian who was ever appointed as a Finance Member of a Province.

Features of the Indian Constitution

  • The bulkiest constitutionof the world
  • Rigidity and flexibility
  • Parliamentary system of government
  • Adult Suffrage
  • Federal system with a unitary bias
  • Fundamental rights and fundamental duties
  • Directive principles of state policy
  • Secularism
  • Independent judiciary

 

Influence on Indian constitution

India became independent on 15th August 1947. The Indian constitution was made keeping in view the noble and great values of freedom struggle on one hand and taking the best features of other constitution  to make India a modern and progressive state in true sense. The Indian constitution enshrines in a way what is called “the idea of India.”Notwithstanding the fact that the Indian Constitution is byproduct of wisdom of Indian leaders, it borrowed good elements from elsewhere. In this sense it is unique in its contents and spirit.

The best features drawn by Indian constitution from other countries are listed below

Name of Countries  Features drawn from other Constitutions
         Britain  1. Parliamentary government

2. Rule of Law

3. Legislative procedure

4. Single citizenship

5. Cabinet system

6. Prerogative writs

7. Parliamentary privileges

8. Bicameralism

         Ireland

 

 1. Directive Principles of State Policy

2. Method of Election of the president

3. Members nomination to the Rajya Sabha by the President

   Unites States of America  1. Impeachment of the president

2. Functions of president and vice-president

3. Removal of Supreme Court and High court judges

4. Fundamental Rights

5. Judicial review

6. Independence of judiciary

7. Preamble of the constitution

  Canada

 

 1. Centrifugal form of federalism where the centre is  stronger than the states.

2. Residuary powers vest with the centre

3. Centre appoints the Governors at the states

4. Advisory jurisdiction of the supreme court

  Australia

 

 1. Concept of Concurrent list

2. Article 108 i.e. Joint sitting of the two houses

3. Freedom of trade and commerce

  USSR (Now Russia)

 

 1. Fundamental duties

2. The ideals of justice (social, economic and political),  expressed in the Preamble.

  France

 

 1. Concept of  “Republic”

2. Ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity(contained in the Preamble)

  Germany

 

 1. Fundamental Rights are suspended during Emergency
  South Africa

 

 1. Election of members of the Rajya Sabha

2. Amendment of the Constitution

  Japan  1. Concept of “procedure established by Law”

Important Amendments to Indian Constitution

First Amendment of the Constitution of India: The Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951, enacted in 1951, made several changes to the Fundamental Rights provisions of the constitution. … It was moved by the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, on 10 May 1951 and enacted by Parliament on 18 June 1951.

22nd Amendment- Passed by Congress in 1947, and ratified by the states on February 27, 1951, the Twenty-Second Amendment limits an elected president to two terms in office, a total of eight years. However, it is possible for an individual to serve up to ten years as president.

52nd Amendment Act, 1985- Constitution 52nd Amendment Act, 1985 provided provisions related to anti-defection in India. In this amendment, articles 101, 102, 190 and 191 were changed. It laid down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection and inserted schedule 10.Sep 12, 2016

73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1993: The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act was passed by the Parliament in April1993. The Amendmentprovided a Constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj Institutions in India through insertion of Article 243 to Part IX of Indian Constitution.Nov

74th Amendment and Municipalities in India. Constitution Act, 1992: has introduced a new Part IXA in the Constitution, which deals with Municipalities in an article 243 P to 243 ZG. This amendment, also known as Nagarpalika Act, came into force on 1st June 1993.

80th Amendment- The Constitution (80th Amendment) Act, 2000. 1. It deals with an alternative scheme for sharing taxes between the Union and the States.

86th Amendment (2002) has a great importance in our Constitution which provide us the main fundamental right that is “Right to education”. … 21-A: The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children between the age of 6 and 14 years in such manner as the State may by law determine”.

Constitution (100th Amendment) Act 2015: Constitution (100th Amendment) Act 2015 ratified the land boundary agreement between India and Bangladesh. The act amended the 1st schedule of the constitution to exchange the disputed territories occupied by both the nations in accordance with the 1974 bilateral LBA.

122nd Amendment to constitution of India

GST or Goods & Service Tax , was introduced by the Constitution Amendment Bill 122, and when successfully passed it was named as 101 Act. GST was implemented after it was introduced in the Lok Sabha and then passed in both the Houses of the Parliament by means of “The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014”.

123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill: for Granting NCBC constitutional status has been passed both in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. With the assent from the President for the same it is deemed to be the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act. The Lok Sabha passed the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill with over two-third majority on August 2, 2018.

The Bill was passed superseding the amendments by the Rajya Sabha which seeks to grant constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). All 406 members present in the House voted in favour of it.

The 124th Amendment to Indian constitution

The 124th Constitutional Amendment received the President’s assent on January 12, 2019.

This amended two fundamental rights: (1) Article 15, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, caste, sex or place of birth, and (2) Article 16 which prohibits discrimination in employment in government office. The amendment provides for the advancement of the “economically weaker sections” of the society. It also makes a note of the Article 46, which asks the government to promote the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the society. It provides reservation for:

  1. People who have an annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh, or
  2. People who own less than five acres of farm land, or
  3. People who have a house less than 1,000 sq feet in a town (or 100 sq yard in a notified municipal area).

Some of the important amendments are listed below:

Provisions related to reservation

  • For Scheduled Tribes, 47 seats are reserved in Lok Sabha. … For Scheduled Castes, 84 seats are reserved in Lok Sabha. As per article 80 of the Constitution, the composition of Council of States(Rajya Sabha) 12 members are nominated by the President. There is no provision for reservation of SC/ST in Rajya Sabha.
  • The Constitution of India states in article 15(4): “Nothing in [article 15] or in clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially, educationally and economically backward classes of citizens of or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.”
  • In central-government funded higher education institutions, 22.5% of available seats are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students (7.5% for STs, 15% for SCs). This reservation percentage has been raised to 49.5% by including an additional 27% reservation for OBCs.
  • In 1995, the 77th amendment to the Constitution was made to amend Article 16 before the five-year period expired to continue with reservations for SC/STs in promotions. It was further modified through the 85th amendment to give the benefit of consequential seniority to SC/ST candidates promoted by reservation.
  • The 81st amendment was made to the Constitution to permit the government to treat the backlog of reserved vacancies as a separate and distinct group, to which the ceiling of 50 per cent did not apply. The 82nd amendment inserted a provision in Article 335 to enable states to give concessions to SC/ST candidates in promotion.
  • 93rd Constitutional Amendment
  • Constitution 93rd Amendment Act, 2006-The act aims to provide greater access to higher education including professional education to a larger number of students belonging to the socially and educationally backward classes of citizens.

Amendment Year Outcome
7 1956 Reorganisation of states on linguistic basis and abolition of Class A, B, C and D states and introduction of Union Territories.
9 1960 Adjustments to Indian territory as a result of agreement with Paksitan.
10 1961 Dadra, Nagar and Haveli included in Indian Union as a Union Territory on acquisition from Portugal.
12 1961 Goa, Daman and Diu included in Indian Union as a Union Territory on acquisition from Portugal.
13 1962 The state of Nagaland formed with special protection under Article 371A on 01 Dec 1963.
14 1962 Pondicherry incorporated into Indian Union after transfer by France.
21 1967 Sindhi added as language in the 8th schedule.
26 1971 Privy purse paid to former rulers of princely states abolished.
36 1975 Sikkim included as an Indian state.
42 1976 Fundamental Duties prescribed, India became Socialist Secular Republic.
44 1978 Right to Property deleted from the list of fundamental rights.
52 1985 Defection to another party after election made illegal.
61 1989 Voting age reduced from 21 to 18.
71 1992 Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali added as languages in the Eighth Schedule.
73 1993 Introduction of Panchayati Raj, addition of Part IX to the Constitution.
74 1993 Introduction of Municipalities.
86 2002 Free and compulsory education to children between 6 and 14 years.
92 2003 Bodo, Dogri, Santhali and Maithli added to the list of recognised languages.
8,23,45,62, 79 and 95 1960, 1970, 1980, 1989, 2000 and 2010 Extension of reservation of seats for SC/ST and nomination of Anglo-Indian members in Parliament and State Assemblies.
96 2011 Substituted Odia for Oriya in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution
97 2012 Introduction of Part IXB in the Constitution pertaining to Co-operative Societies
101 2016 Introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST)
102 2018 Establishment of National Commission for Backward Classes
103 2019 Reservation for economically weaker sections of the society
The 42nd amendment was the most comprehensive amendment which had 59 clauses and carried out so many changes that it has been described as a “Mini Constitution”.
The 52nd amendment was the only amendment to be unanimously adopted by the Parliament.

Categories
Polity and International Relations (English) Review Articles

Making of the Indian Constitution: a simplified brief

On the occasion of 70 years of the Constituent Assembly of India, Down to Earth explains the incremental stages of formulation of the Constitution

Exactly 70 years ago the Constituent Assembly of India sat for the first time on December 9, 1946. Thus started a historical journey which saw India attainting independence, deciding on its national flag, national insignia, national anthem; and ultimately adoption of the Constitution which made our country a democratic republic. On this occasion, Down to Earth is putting together a special package in collaboration with Jana Vidhi Muhim,which is working on spreading constitutional literacy; especially on countering ignorance and misinformation. It is desirable that Constitution becomes accessible by common citizen and doesn’t just remain preserve of lawyers and scholars. We present this package with a hope that more and more people will realise that the Constitution is not a holy book but a functional manual.

SALIENT FEATURES OF CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY OF INDIA

The Constituent Assembly of India came into existence as per the provisions of Cabinet Mission Plan of May 1946. Its task was to formulate constitution/s for facilitating appropriate transfer of sovereign power from British authorities to Indian hands.

The Assembly was to have proportional representation from existing provincial legislatures and from various princely states. Bulk of these elections was completed by the end of July 1946, under the supervision of Reforms Office under Governor General (Viceroy).

The Assembly was to have three sections: Punjab & North-West, Bengal-Assam and Rest of India. The Constitutions were to be formulated for Indian Union, each Section and for each of the Provinces therein. The Muslim League, which had won bulk of the 80 Muslim seats and dominated two smaller Sections, chose not to participate so the Assembly never convened separately in sections.

Assembly held 12 sessions

Assembly held 12 sessions, or rounds of sittings: 1). December 9-23, 1946, 2).January 20- 25, 1947, 3). April 28- May 2, 1947, 4). July 14- 31, 1947, 5). August 14- 30, 1947, 6). January 27, 1948, 7). November 4, 1948-January, 1949, 8). May 16- June 16, 1949, 9). July 30-September 18, 1949,10). October 6-17, 1949, 11). November 4-26, 1949, and 12). January 24, 1950.

Membership of the Assembly kept varying for different reasons, other than resignation and death. Many public figures showed keenness to enter the Assembly but its membership was also denounced by certain groups like Muslim League, Communists and Socialists. These attitudes changed too. After passage of the Indian Independence Act by British Parliament it was decided that those members who wish to retain their seats in provincial legislature would vacate their seats in the Assembly. But several members of provincial legislature continued to come and partake in the Assembly until the provision against this was made in the Constitution itself. Biggest change in membership was caused by the declaration of Partition of India. Certain members like Dr. Ambedkar, who were elected from territories assigned to Dominion of Pakistan, lost their seats. Muslim League members elected from United Provinces, Bihar and elsewhere came to occupy their seats after partition. Such members were humiliated on many occasions and Patel even told them to go to Pakistan. After initial disinterest, the princely states started negotiating with a committee of the Assembly for their representation. Over a period, hundreds of princely states were grouped into larger associations and provisions were made for them to elect their representatives to the Assembly. Till the last day of the Assembly, new members kept joining in. Hyderabad did not send any representative till the end. The total number of people who sat as members of the Assembly at any time has not been calculated by any official or scholar. Records show that maximum membership towards the end of tenure of Assembly was 307.

The Assembly took help of several non-members in formulation of the Constitution. Eminent public figures outside the Assembly were requested to work as members of committees formed by the Assembly for focused deliberations on specific features or segments.

Much of constitution-making took place in these committees, both from procedural and substantive viewpoint. Till date, no official report has appeared in public domain on the exact number of committees formed by the Constituent Assembly. Resolutions were moved for setting up committees as and when the need arose, and adopted after discussion. Depending on swiftness of nomination or election of members of respective committees, their formal appointment took few hours, days or weeks from the adoption of resolution.

Committees of the Constituent Assembly

Some of the known committees were:

Organisational Committees

1.1- Rules of Procedure Committee (appointed on December 11, 1946. 15 members, Chairperson- Rajendra Prasad, ex-officio. Worked till 20 Dec. 1946)

1.2- Steering Committee (appointed on January 21, 1947. 19 members, Chairperson- Rajendra Prasad, ex-officio. Worked till the end.)

1.3- Staff and Finance Committee (appointed on December 23, 1946. 11 members, Chairperson- Rajendra Prasad, ex-officio. Worked till the end.)

1.4- Credentials Committee (appointed on December 23, 1946. 5 members, Chairperson- A.K. Ayyar. Worked till the end.

1.5- Order of Business Committee (appointed on January 25, 1947. 3 members, Chairperson- K.M. Munshi. Worked till July 14, 1947)

1.6- States (Negotiating) Committee (appointed on December 21, 1946. 6 members, Chairperson- J.L. Nehru. Worked till June 5, 1947)

1.7- Flag Committee (appointed on June 23, 1947. 12 members, Chairperson- Rajendra Prasad, ex-officio. Worked till July 22, 1947)

1.8- Committee on Functions of Constituent Assembly, under the Indian Independence Act (appointed on August 20, 1947. 7 members, Chairperson- G.V. Mavlankar. Worked till August 25, 1947)

Principal Committees and their sub-committees

2.1- Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities, Tribal Areas and Excluded Areas (appointed on 24 Jan. 1947. 57 members, Chairperson- Sardar Patel. Worked till 26 May 1949)

2.2- Union Powers Committee (appointed on 25 Jan, 1947. 12 members, Chairperson- J.L. Nehru. Worked till 26 Aug. 1947)

2.3- Union Constitution Committee (appointed on 4 May. 1947. 12 members, Chairperson- J.L. Nehru. Worked till 31 July, 1947.)

2.4- Provincial Constitution Committee (appointed on 4 May. 1947. 21 members, Chairperson- Sardar Patel. Worked till 21 July, 1947.)

2.5- Drafting Committee (appointed on 29 Aug. 1947. 8 members, Chairperson- Dr. Ambedkar. Worked till 17 Nov. 1949)

Other Sectoral Committees

3.1- Ad-hoc Committee on Citizenship (appointed on 30 April, 1947. 7 members, Chairperson- S. Varadachariar. Worked till 12 July. 1947)

3.2- Committee on Chief Commissioner’s Provinces (appointed on 31 July, 1947. 7 members, Chairperson- N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar. Worked till 21 Oct. 1947)

3.3- Experts Committee on Financial Provisions of Constitution (appointed in Nov. 1947. 3 members, Chairperson- N.R. Sarkar. Worked between 17 Nov.- 5 Dec. 1947)

3.4- Sub-Committee on Minority safeguards for West Bengal and East Punjab (appointed on 24 Feb. 1948. 5 members, Chairperson- Sardar Patel. Worked till 23 Nov., 1948.)

Curiously, the so-called Special Committee was constituted to decide the future course of action after comments had arrived in response to the Draft Constitution of February 1948. Neither a resolution for its constitution existed, nor anybody cared to inform the Assembly later on how and why this committee of great consequence was formed. In all, 32 members attended meetings of Special Committee on April 10-11, 1948, which were chaired by JL Nehru.

Office bearers of the Constituent Assembly

Rajendra Prasad was the elected President of Constituent Assembly while VT Krishnamachari and HC Mookerji served as Vice-Presidents. HVR Iyengar was the secretary general of the Assembly, and SN Mukherji was the Chief Draftsman.

After authentication of copies of the Constitution, the Constituent Assembly got naturally dissolved with its Chairperson having been elected the President of India, and its staff diverted to other avenues. But bulk of the Assembly continued functioning as provisional Parliament of India till first general elections were held. Indeed the first amendment to the Constitution of India was made by this provisional Parliament in the summer of 1951.

Preparation of Memorandum

Making of Constitution has been a controversial issue for a long time. This controversy consumes much public energy that can better be utilised in improving our collective understanding of the Constitution. Many experts have written dedicated books on making of constitution but a simplified brief on incremental stages of its formulation was missing.

  1. Dissemination of Constitutional Advisor’s Brief (pamphlets) & Questionnaire (September 1946-November 1947)

B N Rau was appointed Constitutional Advisor by the-then Viceroy Lord Wavell to head the Constituent Assembly Secretariat sometime in late July 1946. He had retired from civil service in January 1944 but remained active. He offered his honorary services to the Viceroy, which was accepted most probably due to his stint in Reforms Office soon after the enactment of Govt. of India Act, 1935. Rau prepared number of pamphlets on various aspects of impending constitution and also collected text of some important constitutions of the world, to facilitate informed discussion by the members of Assembly. Jawaharlal Nehru, as vice-president of Viceroy’s Executive Council, approved dissemination of these briefs on September 16, 1946. Later on, Rau also circulated focused questionnaire on certain aspects of federal constitution in March 1947, and focused Notes to various committees on occasion.

  1. Preparation of Memorandum by the Advisor based on responses; Submission of notes by certain members (February-November 1947)

Based on responses to his briefs and questionnaire, Rau prepared his Memorandum which included blueprints of probable provisions of impending constitution. Certain members chose to send their own individual notes which were to be placed before committees of the Assembly.

  1. Deliberations in Principal Committees, including joint and sub-committees, and their Reports (February-August 1947)

The second session of constituent Assembly- In the second session of Assembly, its Chairman constituted four principal committees: Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal Areas & Excluded Areas, Provincial Constitution Committee, Union Constitution Committee and Union Powers Committee. Of these committees, first two were chaired by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel while the latter two were chaired by Nehru. Most of these committees appointed their sub-committees for more focused work on particular segment. Two or three of these committees also sat jointly to consider matters lying in overlapping zones of consideration. These committees finished bulk of their work by August 1947, but work of first committee went on for a long time on account of concerns of minorities. Partition is often cited as an excuse for delay but the crucial declaration was made on June 3, 1947 while these principal committees were tasked to finish their work by April-May 1947 itself. Anyway, their reports to Assembly included draft provisions of the constitution and some explanatory notes. Usually, the chairperson of the respective committee submitted the report to the President of Assembly, as also presented it in the Assembly and explained or defended it.

[Working of Constituent Assembly, including nomination of acting President, election of regular President and formation of operational committees was decided by an unofficial Experts’ Committee of Congress in July-August 1946. It was this committee which prepared the draft of Objective Resolution which was moved in the first session by Nehru.]

  1. Discussion on Reports in Constituent Assembly and adoption of principles (April-Aug. 1947)

The Assembly discussed the reports of principal committees in detail and adopted the principles therein. More than two thirds of the final constitution Bill was covered in these discussions.

  1. Preparation of First Draft by Constitutional Advisor (July-October 1947)

Constitutional Advisor started putting together first draft of constitution by aligning the reports already discussed and adopted. He also augmented it by filling obvious gaps himself in the form of suggestions, or indicated certain spaces that would only be filled after reports of sectoral committees came in. This was the stage of first major delay in completion of work since the first draft missed the deadline of August-September and arrived only on October 27, 1947.

Deliberations and recommendations

  1. Deliberations in Sectoral Committees and their Reports (April-December 1947)

Various sectoral committees commenced and finished their deliberations, and this activity went on over a long period. These sectoral committees were assigned very definite tasks either by the Chairman of Assembly or by one of the committees itself. Many of these reports couldn’t be utilised in the first draft of constitutional advisor or in the Draft Constitution, and were incorporated in later stages.

  1. Deliberations in Drafting Committee and resultant Draft Constitution (October 1947- February 1948)

Assembly had resolved in July 1947 to constitute a drafting committee which will attune the constitution Bill from the perspective of legislative language and other such aspects. On August 29, 1947 this drafting committee was elected by the Assembly, while the committee chose its Chairman in its first meeting. Primary contribution of drafting committee was refining and expanding the draft of constitutional advisor (240 Articles, 13 Schedules) in its sitting held almost continuously. It produced the draft constitution by February 21, 1948 which contained 315 Articles and 8 Schedules. It was published on February 26 and circulated widely among official and non-official circles, to elicit comments. This was second major stage of delay in formulation of constitution since it was supposed to finish its work in a month and Dr. Ambedkar even informed midway through this round of sittings that assigned work would be finished within December 1947.

  1. Consideration of Responses by Drafting Committee, and its recommendations (March 23, 24 and 27, 1948)

Responses were invited on draft constitution by March 22, 1948. Soon, thereafter, the drafting committee sat down to consider these responses as presented by the assembly secretariat. Recommendations emanating from these sittings were duly forwarded to the Chairman of Assembly.

  1. Deliberations on Responses in Special Committee, and its decisions (April 10-11, 1948)

Chairman of Assembly decided that responses on draft constitution and recommendations of drafting committee should be considered by a Special Committee, which was to consist of members of Committees on Union Powers, Union Constitution and Provincial Constitution. Nehru chaired the sittings attended by some 30 members. This Committee resolved some matters and held over some of them for later consideration. It recommended that call for amendments from members of Assembly may be issued. This Committee was supposed to reconvene on May 11, 1948 but apparently, it never did. It remains a mystery, unanswered by any participant or scholar, as to what caused the official inactivity on formulation of Constitution for six long months.

  1. Deliberations in Drafting Committee for parallel/official amendments (October 18-20, 1948)

Finally on October 18, 1948 the drafting committee picked the cue and decided in its sittings over three days that a reprint of draft constitution will be issued containing the amendments that the committee was willing to sponsor, parallel to relevant Article or Schedule. Approach taken at these two stages ensured that the Assembly would have to go through discussion and voting again and again on several segments. Lack of clarity and interest shown by Nehru and Patel in this phase expanded the role and authority of the Drafting Committee. Neither of the two de-facto leaders of the Assembly came forward to get a proper second draft prepared and to steer it in the Assembly.

  1. Publication of bound books of proposed amendments, both officially sponsored and private member’s amendments (October 26, 1948)

As per the resolution of the drafting committee, a reprint of draft constitution was issued to all members of the Assembly. Critique of the rationale behind this strange draft has been consistently avoided, and thus, it remains out of print despite the fact that the Assembly considered this version and not the oft-cited Draft Constitution of February 1948. Simultaneously, the President of the Assembly ensured printing and distribution of bound volumes of amendments proposed by individual members. During the course of debates in the Assembly, amendments were referred to by sequential number and book number.

Final voting

  1. Discussions and voting in meetings of Congress Assembly Party, held in Constitution House (October 1948-November 1949)

Since the Assembly was dominated by representatives from the Congress, party whip played a great role. However, certain individual members did express their views in Assembly, even at the risk of challenging the party whip. The Assembly Party meetings were open to non-congressmen who cared to attend. The Party took care not to enforce strict discipline on emotional issues and allowed open discussion in the Assembly, though in the end final decision on almost every segment of constitution was taken herein. The Constitution Bill being such a bulky document, the party whip issued to all members mimeographed lists of Articles and the decisions taken thereon.

  1. Discussion and voting on Draft Constitution and amendments, in the Assembly (November 4, 1948 –October 17, 1949)

Most visible part of constitution-making was the year-long discussions in Assembly. For official purposes, this was called the first-reading. The discussion wasn’t always conducted in sequential order that articles were arranged in the draft constitution but was decided by the Steering Committee. Very few unofficial amendments were accepted by the Assembly at the voting. Even if they are not withdrawn, they were often negated. Some of the unofficial amendments were accepted by the Drafting Committee during discussion and thus, they were not voted upon. KM Munshi played a crucial role of a regular link between the Drafting Committee and the Congress Assembly Party.

  1. Preparation of so-called Final Draft, by Drafting Committee (November 3, 1949)

Discussion in the Assembly was rather haphazard insofar not being in sequential order of the Draft Constitution. Several matters, already decided after discussion and voting, were revisited for deliberations and often, changes of drafting nature were left to the Drafting Committee. It was obvious that a clean draft was required and therefore, the Drafting Committee submitted such a draft. In doing so, certain unapproved changes were introduced by the committee which required deliberation and decision of the Assembly. Individual members received it around November 6, 1949 and were given opportunity to propose amendments to these new changes.

  1. Discussion for three days and final voting for amendment of certain clauses (November 14-16, 1949)

Officially called the second-reading of constitution Bill, this phase witnessed 170 amendments being moved. Only 88 were accepted, 30 withdrawn and 52 negated. With this, the real work of formulation of Constitution got over.

  1. Discussion on ‘settled-by-Assembly’ version of Constitution Bill (November 17-26 1949)

This was a beginning of a largely ceremonial phase, officially called third-reading. In the discussion that ensued, most of the speakers (more than 100) explain their take on merits and shortcomings of the Constitution. Dr Ambedkar and the President of the Assembly gave their views in the end.

  1. Final adoption, enactment through signing by Chairman of Assembly; and partial commencement (November 26, 1949)

With the last voting on the Constitution, it was adopted by the Constituent Assembly. The President of the Assembly signed a copy of the Constitution to officially bring it in force, although partially, because only 16 of the 395 Articles came into force at that point in time.

  1. Signing of calligraphed version of the Constitution by all members of Assembly (January 24, 1950)

Proceedings of the day began by the declaration of the President of the Assembly having been elected as the President of India. Then, all members signed three copies, the English print version and calligraphed version in English and Hindi, of the Constitution. Nehru was the first and Prasad was the last to sign these copies.

  1. Formal Commencement (January 26, 1950)

As per the provisions in the Constitution, it formally commenced on January 1950, bringing it in force in its entirety. This date was most probably chosen to commemorate the declaration of ‘Poorna Swaraj’ (Total Independence) by Nehru at an annual session of the Congress in Lahore in 1929. This day was used to be celebrated as Independence Day by the Congress for many years but circumstances (and the sudden decision of British authorities to grant independence) made it Republic Day.

Categories
Polity and International Relations (English) Readings for Prelims

Constitutional Amendments in India

The Indian Constitution

The constitution of India is the supreme law of India .at present there are, 448 articles in 25 parts, 12 schedules, 5 appendices and 101 amendments in the Indian Constitution. Initially, i.e in 1949, the Constitution had 395 articles. But many new articles came into play and we total have now 469 articles. Since society and its needs are ever-evolving, constitution needs to keep pace, and therefore amendments to the Indian constitution have been taking place from time to time. As of March 2019, there have been 103 amendments to the Constitution of India since it was first enacted in 1950.

The procedure of amendment

The procedure of amendment in the constitution is laid down in Part XX (Article 368) of the Constitution of India. This procedure ensures the sanctity of the Constitution of India and keeps a check on arbitrary power of the Parliament of India. The amendment of the Indian constitution is done through a well laid out procedure and there is ample provision to avoid conflict between judiciary i.e., the Supreme Court and legislature, i.e., the Parliament of India, The use of discretionary power to amend constitution by parliament is subject to certain rules and doctrines as interpreted by the Supreme Court. There are laid down doctrines or rules in this regard for checking the validity/legality of an amendment undertaken by parliament, One such doctrine, the most important one is about the Basic structure doctrine as laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala.

The original constitution provided for three categories of amendments.

Category 1- by simple majority

The first category of amendments are those contemplated in articles 4 (2), 169, 239A (2), 239AA (7b), 243M (4b), 243ZC (3), 244A (4), 356 (1)c, para 7(2) of Schedule V and para 21(2) of Schedule VI. These amendments can be effected by Parliament by a simple majority such as that required for the passing of any ordinary law. The amendments under this category are specifically excluded from the purview of article 368 which is the specific provision in the Constitution dealing with the power and the procedure for the amendment of the Constitution.

Article 4

Article 4 provides that laws made by Parliament under article 2 (relating to admission or establishment of new States) and article 3 (relating to formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States) effecting amendments in the First Schedule or the Fourth Schedule and supplemental, incidental and consequential matters, shall not be deemed to be amendments of the Constitution for the purposes of article 368.

For example, the States Reorganisation Act, 1956, which brought about the reorganization of the States in India, was passed by Parliament as an ordinary piece of legislation. In Mangal Singh v. Union of India (A.I.R. 1967 S.C. 944), the Supreme Court held that power to reduce the total number of members of Legislative Assembly below the minimum prescribed under article 170 (1) is implicit in the authority to make laws under article 4. Article 169 empowers Parliament to provide by law for the abolition or creation of the Legislative Councils in States and specifies that though such law shall contain such provisions for the amendment of the Constitution as may be necessary, it shall not be deemed to be an amendment of the Constitution for the purposes of article 368.

The Fifth Schedule

The Fifth Schedule contains provisions as to the administration and control of the Schedule Areas and Scheduled Tribes. Para 7 of the Schedule vests Parliament with plenary powers to enact laws amending the Schedule and lays down that no such law shall be deemed to be an amendment of the Constitution for the purposes of article 368. Under Para 21 of the Sixth Schedule, Parliament has full power to enact laws amending the Sixth Schedule which contains provisions for the administration of Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. No such law will be deemed to be an amendment of the Constitution for the purposes of article 368.

Category 2- by special majority

The second category includes amendments that can be effected by Parliament by a prescribed ‘special majority’;

Category 3- by special majority plus ratification by at least one half of state legislatures- The third category of amendments includes those that require, in addition to such “special majority”, ratification by at least one-half of the State Legislatures. The last two categories are governed by article 368.

Amendment under article 368

Part-xx Article 368 (1) of the Constitution of India grants constituent power to make formal amendments and empowers Parliament to amend the Constitution by way of addition, variation or repeal of any provision according to the procedure laid down therein, which is different from the procedure for ordinary legislation.

Article 368. Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and Procedure therefor:

(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may in exercise of its constituent power amend by way of addition, variation or repeal any provision of this Constitution in accordance with the procedure laid down in this article.

(2) An amendment of this Constitution may be initiated only by the introduction of a Bill for the purpose in either House of Parliament, and when the Bill is passed in each House by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting, it shall be presented to the President who shall give his assent to the Bill and thereupon the Constitution shall stand amended in accordance with the terms of the Bill:

Provided that if such amendment seeks to make any change in –

(a) article 54, article 55, article 73, article 162, article 241 or article 279A or

(b) Chapter IV of Part V, Chapter V of Part VI, or Chapter I of Part XI, or

(c) any of the Lists in the Seventh Schedule, or

(d) the representation of States in Parliament, or

(e) the provisions of this article,

the amendment shall also require to be ratified by the Legislatures of not less than one-half of the States by resolutions to that effect passed by those Legislatures before the Bill making provision for such amendment is presented to the President for assent.

(3) Nothing in article 13 shall apply to any amendment made under this article.

(4) No amendment of this Constitution (including the provisions of Part III) made or purporting to have been made under this article whether before or after the commencement of section 55 of the Constitution (Forty Second Amendment) Act, 1976 shall be called in question in any court on any ground.

(5) For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that there shall be no limitation whatever on the constituent power of Parliament to amend by way of addition, variation or repeal the provisions of this Constitution under this article.

As per the procedure laid out by article 368 for amendment of the Constitution, an amendment can be initiated only by the introduction of a Bill in either House of Parliament. The Bill must then be passed in each House by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting. There is no provision for a joint sitting in case of disagreement between the two Houses. Total membership in this context has been defined to mean the total number of members comprising the House irrespective of any vacancies or absentees on any account vide Explanation to Rule 159 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.

The Bill, passed by the required majority, is then presented to the President who shall give his assent to the Bill. If the amendment seeks to make any change in any of the provisions mentioned in the proviso to article 368, it must be ratified by the Legislatures of not less than one-half of the States. These provisions relate to certain matters concerning the federal structure or of common interest to both the Union and the States viz., the election of the President (articles 54 and 55); the extent of the executive power of the Union and the States (articles 73 and 162); the High Courts for Union territories (article 241); The Union Judiciary and the High Courts in the States (Chapter IV of Part V and Chapter V of Part VI); the distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the States (Chapter I of Part XI and Seventh Schedule); the representation of States in Parliament; and the provision for amendment of the Constitution laid down in article 368. Ratification is done by a resolution passed by the State Legislatures. There is no specific time limit for the ratification of an amending Bill by the State Legislatures. However, the resolutions ratifying the proposed amendment must be passed before the amending Bill is presented to the President for his assent.

Article 368 was amended by the 24th and 42nd Amendments in 1971 and 1976 respectively. New clauses 368 (1) and 368 (3) were added by the 24th Amendment in 1971, which also added a new clause (4) in article 13 which reads, “Nothing in this article shall apply to any amendment of this Constitution made under article 368.”The provisions in italics were inserted by the 42nd Amendment but were later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Minerva Mills v. Union of India in 1980. After the 24th amendment, Article 4(2), etc. of the constitution are superseded/made void by article 368 (1) which is the only procedure for amending the constitution however marginal may be the nature of the amendment. The Supreme court ruled that the constituent power under article 368 must be exercised by the Parliament in the prescribed manner and cannot be exercised under the legislative powers of the Parliament.

Categories
Economy (English)

11 curves most frequently used in Economics 

A production–possibility frontier (PPF) or production possibility curve (PPC) is a curve which shows various combinations of the amounts of two goods which can be produced with the given resources and technology, where the given resources are fully and efficiently utilized per unit time. A PPF illustrates several economic concepts, such as allocative efficiency, economies of scale, opportunity cost (or marginal rate of transformation), productive efficiency, and scarcity of resources (the fundamental economic problem that all societies face).

This tradeoff is usually considered for an economy, but also applies to each individual, household, and economic organization. One good can only be produced by diverting resources from other goods, and so by producing less of them.

Graphically bounding the production set for fixed input quantities, the PPF curve shows the maximum possible production level of one commodity for any given production level of the other, given the existing state of technology. By doing so, it defines productive efficiency in the context of that production set: a point on the frontier indicates efficient use of the available inputs (such as points B, D and C in the graph), a point beneath the curve (such as A) indicates inefficiency, and a point beyond the curve (such as X) indicates impossibility.

An example PPF with illustrative points marked

PPFs are normally drawn as bulging upwards or outwards from the origin (“concave” when viewed from the origin), but they can be represented as bulging downward (inwards) or linear (straight), depending on a number of assumptions.

An outward shift of the PPC results from growth of the availability of inputs, such as physical capital or labour, or from technological progressin knowledge of how to transform inputs into outputs. Such a shift reflects, for instance, economic growth of an economy already operating at its full productivity (on the PPF), which means that more of both outputs can now be produced during the specified period of time without sacrificing the output of either good. Conversely, the PPF will shift inward if the labour force shrinks, the supply of raw materials is depleted, or a natural disaster decreases the stock of physical capital.

However, most economic contractions reflect not that less can be produced but that the economy has started operating below the frontier, as typically, both labour and physical capital are underemployed, remaining therefore idle.

  1. Demand curve and Supply curve

Demand curve, in economics, a graphic representation of the relationship between product price and the quantity of the product demanded. It is drawn with price on the vertical axis of the graph and quantity demanded on the horizontal axis. With few exceptions, the demand curve is delineated as sloping downward from left to right because price and quantity demanded are inversely related. This relationship is contingent on certain ceteris paribus (other things equal) conditions remaining constant. Such conditions include the number of consumers in the market, consumer tastes or preferences, prices of substitute goods, consumer price expectations, and personal income. A change in one or more of these conditions causes a change in demand, which is reflected by a shift in the location of the demand curve. A shift to the left indicates a decrease in demand, while a movement to the right an increase.

Supply curve, in economics, graphic representation of the relationship between product price and quantity of product that a seller is willing and able to supply. Product price is measured on the vertical axis of the graph and quantity of product supplied on the horizontal axis. In most cases, the supply curve is drawn as a slope rising upward from left to right, since product price and quantity supplied are directly related (i.e., as the price of a commodity increases in the market, the amount supplied increases). This relationship is dependent on certain ceteris paribus (other things equal) conditions remaining constant. Such conditions include the number of sellers in the market, the state of technology, the level of production costs, the seller’s price expectations, and the prices of related products. A change in any of these conditions will cause a shift in the supply curve. A shifting of the curve to the left corresponds to a decrease in the quantity of product supplied, whereas a shift to the right reflects an increase.

  1. Market Equilibrium

In economics, economic equilibrium is a situation in which economic forces such as supply and demand are balanced and in the absence of external influences the (equilibrium) values of economic variables will not change. For example, in the standard textbook model of perfect competition, equilibrium occurs at the point at which quantity demanded and quantity supplied are equal. Market equilibrium in this case is a condition where a market price is established through competition such that the amount of goods or services sought by buyers is equal to the amount of goods or services produced by sellers. This price is often called the competitive price or market clearing price and will tend not to change unless demand or supply changes, and the quantity is called the “competitive quantity” or market clearing quantity. However, the concept of equilibrium in economics also applies to imperfectly competitive markets, where it takes the form of a Nash equilibrium.

Competitive Equilibrium: Price equates supply and demand. −

P – price

Q – quantity demanded and supplied

S – supply curve

D – demand curve

P0 – equilibrium price

A – excess demand – when P<P0

B – excess supply – when P>P0

  1. Indifference Curve

Indifference curve, in economics, is a graph showing various combinations of two things (usually consumer goods) that yield equal satisfaction or utility to an individual. Developed by the Irish-born British economist Francis Y. Edgeworth, it is widely used as an analytical tool in the study of consumer behaviour, particularly as related to consumer demand. It is also utilized in welfare economics, a field that focuses on the effect of different actions on individual and general well-being.

The classic indifference curve is drawn downward from left to right and convex to the origin, so that a consumer who is given a choice between any two points on it would not prefer one point over the other. Because all of the combinations of goods represented by the points are equally desirable, the consumer would be indifferent to the combination actually received. An indifference curve is always constructed on the assumption that, other things being equal, certain factors remain constant.

An indifference curve connects points on a graph representing different quantities of two goods, points between which a consumer is indifferent. That is, the consumer has no preference for one combination or bundle of goods over a different combination on the same curve. One can also refer to each point on the indifference curve as rendering the same level of utility (satisfaction) for the consumer. In other words, an indifference curve is the locus of various points showing different combinations of two goods providing equal utility to the consumer. Utility is then a device to represent preferences rather than something from which preferences come. The main use of indifference curves is in the representation of potentially observable demand patterns for individual consumers over commodity bundles.

There are infinitely many indifference curves: one passes through each combination. A collection of (selected) indifference curves, illustrated graphically, is referred to as an indifference map. Indifferent curve is negatively sloped which means as quantity consumed of one good (X) increases, total satisfaction would increase if not offset by a decrease in the quantity consumed of the other good (Y). Indifference curves are convex to origin and do not intersect each other. If you move “off” an indifference curve traveling in a northeast direction (assuming positive marginal utility for the goods) you are essentially climbing a mound of utility. The higher you go the greater the level of utility. The non-satiation requirement means that you will never reach the “top,” or a “bliss point,” a consumption bundle that is preferred to all others.

 

  1. Isoquant

An isoquant (derived from quantity and the Greek word iso, meaning equal) is a contour line drawn through the set of points at which the same quantity of output is produced while changing the quantities of two or more inputs. While an indifference curve mapping helps to solve the utility-maximizing problem of consumers, the isoquant mapping deals with the cost-minimization problem of producers. Isoquants are typically drawn along with isocost curves in capital-labor graphs, showing the technological tradeoff between capital and labor in the production function, and the decreasing marginal returns of both inputs. Adding one input while holding the other constant eventually leads to decreasing marginal output, and this is reflected in the shape of the isoquant. A family of isoquants can be represented by an isoquant map, a graph combining a number of isoquants, each representing a different quantity of output. Isoquants are also called equal product curves.

Production isoquant (strictly convex) and isocost curve (linear)

An isoquant shows that extent to which the firm in question has the ability to substitute between the two different inputs at will in order to produce the same level of output. An isoquant map can also indicate decreasing or increasing returns to scale based on increasing or decreasing distances between the isoquant pairs of fixed output increment, as output increases. If the distance between those isoquants increases as output increases, the firm’s production function is exhibiting decreasing returns to scale; doubling both inputs will result in placement on an isoquant with less than double the output of the previous isoquant. Conversely, if the distance is decreasing as output increases, the firm is experiencing increasing returns to scale; doubling both inputs results in placement on an isoquant with more than twice the output of the original isoquant.

As with indifference curves, two isoquants can never cross. Also, every possible combination of inputs is on an isoquant. Finally, any combination of inputs above or to the right of an isoquant results in more output than any point on the isoquant. Although the marginal product of an input decreases as you increase the quantity of the input while holding all other inputs constant, the marginal product is never negative in the empirically observed range since a rational firm would never increase an input to decrease output.

An isoquants shows all those combinations of factors which produce same level of output. An isoquants is also known as equal product curve or iso-product curve. It describes the firm’s alternative methods for producing a given level of output.

  1. Business Cycle- boom and bust

Business cycle refers to periodic fluctuations in the general rate of economic activity, as measured by the levels of employment, prices, and production. The business cycle, also known as the economic cycle or trade cycle, is the downward and upward movement of gross domestic product (GDP) around its long-term growth trend. The length of a business cycle is the period of time containing a single boom and contraction in sequence. These fluctuations typically involve shifts over time between periods of relatively rapid economic growth (expansions or booms) and periods of relative stagnation or decline (contractions or recessions).

Business cycles are usually measured by considering the growth rate of real gross domestic product. Despite the often-applied term cycles, these fluctuations in economic activity do not exhibit uniform or predictable periodicity. The common or popular usage boom-and-bust cycle refers to fluctuations in which the expansion is rapid and the contraction severe.

In 1860 French economist Clément Juglar first identified economic cycles 7 to 11 years long, although he cautiously did not claim any rigid regularity. Later, economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883–1950) argued that a Juglar cycle has four stages:

  • Expansion (increase in production and prices, low interest-rates)
  • Crisis (stock exchanges crash and multiple bankruptcies of firms occur)
  • Recession (drops in prices and in output, high interest-rates)
  • Recovery (stocks recover because of the fall in prices and incomes)

Schumpeter’s Juglar model associates recovery and prosperity with increases in productivity, consumer confidence, aggregate demand, and prices.

In the 20th century, Schumpeter and others proposed a typology of business cycles according to their periodicity, so that a number of particular cycles were named after their discoverers or proposers:

In the 20th century, Schumpeter and others proposed a typology of business cycles according to their periodicity, so that a number of particular cycles were named after their discoverers or proposers:

  • The Kitchin inventory cycle of 3 to 5 years (after Joseph Kitchin)
  • The Juglar fixed-investment cycle of 7 to 11 years (often identified as “the” business cycle
  • The Kuznets infrastructural investment cycle of 15 to 25 years (after Simon Kuznets – also called “building cycle”)
  • The Kondratiev wave or long technological cycle of 45 to 60 years (after the Soviet economist Nikolai Kondratiev)

Some say interest in the different typologies of cycles has waned since the development of modern macroeconomics, which gives little support to the idea of regular periodic cycles.

  1. Inflationary and deflationary Gap

The inflationary gap exists when the demand for goods and services exceeds production due to factors such as higher levels of overall employment, increased trade activities or increased government expenditure. This can lead to the real GDP exceeding the potential GDP, resulting in an inflationary gap. The inflationary gap is so named because the relative increase in real GDP causes an economy to increase its consumption, which causes prices to rise in the long run.

The inflationary gap is always an ex-ante phenomenon; it is always expected to occur in the future. It arises when expected expenditure will not equal expected consumption at a future date.Keynes defines it as the excess demand in the market for consumption of goods and services. He defined an inflationary gap as an excess of planned expenditure over the available output at pre-inflation or base prices. Given a constant average propensity to save; rising money incomes at full employment level would lead to an excess of demand over supply and to a consequent inflationary gap. Thus Keynes used the concept of the inflationary gap to show the main determinants that cause an inflationary rise of prices.

When the potential GDP is higher than the real GDP, the gap is referred to as a deflationary gap. Deflationary gap is the difference between potential output at full level of employment and the actual level of output of the economy. For deflationary gap all the resources of the economy are not being used to the optimum level and some are idle.  This comes with unemployment and low levels of output.

  1. Phillips Curve

Phillips curve is a graphic representation of the economic relationship between the rate of unemployment (or the rate of change of unemployment) and the rate of change of money wages. Named for economist A. William Phillips, it indicates that wages tend to rise faster when unemployment is low. In “The Relation Between Unemployment and the Rate of Change of Money Wage Rates in the United Kingdom, 1861–1957” (1958), Phillips found that, except for the years of unusually large and rapid increases in import prices, the rate of change in wages could be explained by the level of unemployment. Simply put, a climate of low unemployment will cause employers to bid wages up in an effort to lure higher-quality employees away from other companies. Conversely, conditions of high unemployment eliminate the need for such competitive bidding; as a result, the rate of change in paid compensation will be lower.

The main implication of the Phillips curve is that, because a particular level of unemployment will influence a particular rate of wage increase, the two goals of low unemployment and a low rate of inflation may be incompatible. Developments in the United States and other countries in the second half of the 20th century, however, suggested that the relation between unemployment and inflation is more unstable than the Phillips curve would predict. In particular, the situation in the early 1970s, marked by relatively high unemployment and extremely high wage increases, represented a point well off the Phillips curve. At the beginning of the 21st century, the persistence of low unemployment and relatively low inflation marked another departure from the Phillips curve.

While there is a short run tradeoff between unemployment and inflation, it has not been observed in the long run. In 1967 and 1968, Milton Friedman and Edmund Phelps asserted that the Phillips curve was only applicable in the short-run and that in the long-run, inflationary policies would not decrease unemployment.  Friedman then correctly predicted that in the 1973–75 recession, both inflation and unemployment would increase. The long-run Phillips curve is now seen as a vertical line at the natural rate of unemployment, where the rate of inflation has no effect on unemployment.

  1. J- Curve

In economics, the ‘J curve’ is the time path of a country’s trade balance following a devaluation or depreciation of its currency, under a certain set of assumptions. A devalued currency means imports are more expensive, and on the assumption that the volumes of imports and exports change little at first, this causes a fall in the current account (a bigger deficit or smaller surplus). After some time, though, the volume of exports may start to rise because of their lower and hence more competitive prices to foreign buyers and domestic consumers may buy fewer of the costlier imports. Eventually, if this happens, the trade balance should move to a smaller deficit or larger surplus compared to what it was before the devaluation. Likewise, if there is a currency revaluation or appreciation the same reasoning may be applied and will lead to an inverted J curve.

Immediately following the depreciation or devaluation of the currency, the total value of imports will increase and exports remain largely unchanged due in part to pre-existing trade contracts that have to be honored. This is because in the short run, prices of imports rise due to the depreciation and also in the short run there is a lag in changing consumption of imports, therefore there is an immediate jump followed by a lag until the long run prevails and consumers stop importing as many expensive goods and along with the rise in exports cause the current account to increase (a smaller defect or a bigger surplus). Moreover, in the short run, demand for the more expensive imports (and demand for exports, which are cheaper to foreign buyers using foreign currencies) remain price inelastic. This is due to time lags in the consumer’s search for acceptable, cheaper alternatives (which might not exist).

Over the longer term depreciation in the exchange rate can have the desired effect of improving the current account balance. Domestic consumers might switch their expenditure to domestic products and away from expensive imported goods and services, assuming equivalent domestic alternatives exist. Equally, many foreign consumers may switch to purchasing the products being exported into their country, which are now cheaper in the foreign currency, instead of their own domestically produced goods and services.

Empirical investigations of the J curve have sometimes focused on the effect of exchange rate changes on the trade ratio, i.e. exports divided by imports, rather than the trade balance, exports minus imports. Unlike the trade balance, the trade ratio can be logarithmically transformed regardless of whether a trade deficit or trade surplus exists.

  1. Laffer Curve

The Laffer Curve is a theory developed by supply-side economist Arthur Laffer to show the relationship between tax rates and the amount of tax revenue collected by governments. The curve is used to illustrate Laffer’s argument that sometimes cutting tax rates can increase total tax revenue. The Laffer Curve describes the relationship between tax rates and total tax revenue, with an optimal tax rate that maximizes total government tax revenue.

If taxes are too high along the Laffer Curve, then they will discourage the taxed activities, such as work and investment, enough to actually reduce total tax revenue. In this case, cutting tax rates will both stimulate economic incentives and increase tax revenue. The Laffer Curve was used as a basis for tax cuts in the 1980’s with apparent success, but criticized on practical grounds on the basis of its simplistic assumptions, and on economic grounds that increasing government revenue might not always be optimal.

The Laffer Curve is based on the economic idea that people will adjust their behavior in the face of the incentives created by income tax rates. Higher income tax rates decrease the incentive to work and invest compared lower rates. If this effect is large enough, it means that at some tax rate, and further increase in the rate will actually lead to decrease in total tax revenue. For every type of tax, there is a threshold rate above which the incentive to produce more diminishes, thereby reducing the amount of revenue the government receives.

At a 0% tax rate, tax revenue would obviously be zero. As tax rates increase from low levels, tax revenue collected by the also government increases. Eventually, if tax rates reached 100 percent, shown as the far right on the Laffer Curve, all people would choose not to work because everything they earned would go to the government. Therefore it is necessarily true that at some point in the range where tax revenue is positive, it must reach a maximum point. This is represented by T* on the graph below. To the left of T* an increase in tax rate raises more revenue than is lost to offsetting worker and investor behavior. Increasing rates beyond T* however would cause people not to work as much or not at all, thereby reducing total tax revenue.

Therefore at any tax rate to the right of T*, a reduction in tax rate will actually increase total revenue. The shape of the Laffer Curve, and thus the location of T* is dependent on worker and investor preferences for work, leisure, and income, as well as technology and other economic factors. Governments would like to be at point T* because it is the point at which the government collects maximum amount of tax revenue while people continue to work hard. If the current tax rate is to the right of T*, then lowering the tax rate will both stimulate economic growth by increasing incentives to work and invest, and increase government revenue because work and investment means a larger tax base.

  1. Engel’s Curve

In microeconomics, an Engel curve describes how household expenditure on a particular good or service varies with household income. There are two varieties of Engel curves. Budget share Engel curves describe how the proportion of household income spent on a good varies with income. Alternatively, Engel curves can also describe how real expenditure varies with household income. They are named after the German statistician Ernst Engel (1821–1896), who was the first to investigate this relationship between goods expenditure and income systematically in 1857. The best-known single result from the article is Engel’s law which states that the poorer a family is, the larger the budget share it spends on nourishment.

Graphically, the Engel curve is represented in the first quadrant of the Cartesian coordinate system. Income is shown on the Y-axis and the quantity demanded for the selected good or service is shown on the X-axis. The shapes of Engel curves depend on many demographic variables and other consumer characteristics. A good’s Engel curve reflects its income elasticity and indicates whether the good is an inferior, normal, or luxury good. Empirical Engel curves are close to linear for some goods, and highly nonlinear for others.

For normal goods, the Engel curve has a positive gradient. That is, as income increases, the quantity demanded increases. Amongst normal goods, there are two possibilities. Although the Engel curve remains upward sloping in both cases, it bends toward the X-axis for necessities and towards the Y-axis for luxury goods.

For inferior goods, the Engel curve has a negative gradient. That means that as the consumer has more income, they will buy less of the inferior good because they are able to purchase better goods. For goods with a Marshallian demand function generated from a utility function of Gorman polar form, the Engel curve is a straight line.

Many Engel curves feature saturation properties in that their slope tends toward infinity at high income levels, which suggests that there exists an absolute limit on how much expenditure on a good will rise as household income increases.This saturation property has been linked to slowdowns in the growth of demand for some sectors in the economy, causing major changes in an economy’s sectoral composition to take place.

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History (English) Readings for Prelims

Peasant movements during Indian Freedom Struggle

Peasant movements have a long history that can be traced to the numerous peasant uprisings that occurred in various regions of the world throughout human history. Early peasant movements were usually the result of stresses in the feudal and semi feudal societies, and resulted in violent uprisings. More recent movements, fitting the definitions of social movements, are usually much less violent, and their demands are centered on better prices for agricultural produce, better wages and working conditions for the agricultural laborers, and increasing the agricultural production. The economic policies of British adversely affected the Indian peasants the British Govt. used to protect the landlords and money lenders. They exploited the peasants. The peasants rose in revolt against this injustice on many occasions. Some of the important ones are listed below:

Champaran Satyagraha

The Champaran Satyagraha took place in 1916.Chamaparan Satyagraha was a farmer’s uprising that took place in Champaran district of Bihar, during the British colonial period. This movement was the first popular satyagraha (standing up for truth) in India, although the word Satyagraha was used for the first time in Anti Rowlatt Act agitation.   It was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. This movement is recognized as the beginning of revolt for   the independence of India after Gandhi’s home coming from South Africa. The farmers were protesting against to grow indigo with barely any payment for it. When Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915, and saw peasants in Northern India oppressed by indigo planters, he tried to use the same methods that he had used in South Africa to organize mass uprisings by people to protest against injustices. Neel (indigo) started being grown commercially in Berar (Today Bihar), Audh (today Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand) and Bengal in 1750 by the British East India company, primarily for export to China, UK and Europe. Being a cash crop which needed high amounts of water and which left the soil infertile, local farmers usually opposed its cultivation, instead preferring to grow daily need crops such as rice and pulses. Hence the British colonialists forced farmers to grow indigo, often by making this the condition for providing loans, and through collusion with local kings, nawabs and landlords.

Kheda Sayagraha

The Kheda Satyagraha of 1918, in the Kheda district of Gujarat,  during the period of the British Raj, was a Satyagraha movement organized by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. It was the third Satyagraha movement after Champaran Satyagraha and Ahmadabad.Gandhi organised this movement to support peasants of the Kheda district. People of Kheda were unable to pay the high taxes levied by the British due to crop failure and a plague epidemic. In Gujarat, Mahatma Gandhi was chiefly the spiritual head of the struggle. His chief lieutenant, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and a close coterie of devoted Gandhians, namely Indulal Yagnik, Shankarlal Banker, Mahadev Desai, Narhari Parikh, Mohanlal Pandya and Ravi Shankar Vyas toured the countryside, organised the villagers and gave them political leadership and direction. Many aroused Gujaratis from the cities of Ahmadabad and Vadodara joined the organizers of the revolt, but Gandhi and Patel resisted the involvement of Indians from other provinces, seeking to keep it a purely Gujarati struggle.

Bardoli Movement

The Bardoli Satyagraha of 1928, in the state of Gujarat,  during the period of the British Raj, was a major episode of civil disobedience and revolt in the Indian Independence Movement. The movement was eventually led by Vallabhbhai Patel, and its success gave rise to Patel becoming one of the main leaders of the independence movement. In 1925, the taluka of Bardoli in Gujarat suffered from floods and famine, causing crop production to suffer and leaving farmers facing great financial troubles. However, the government of the Bombay Presidency had raised the tax rate by 30% that year, and despite petitions from civic groups, refused to cancel the rise in the face of the calamities. The situation for the farmers was grave enough that they barely had enough property and crops to pay off the tax, let alone for feeding themselves afterwards. Patel first wrote to the Governor of Bombay, asking him to reduce the taxes for the year in face of the calamities. But the Governor ignored the letter, and reciprocated by announcing the date of collection.

Sardar Patel instructed all the farmers of Bardoli taluka to refuse payment of their taxes. Aided by Parikh, Vyas and Pandya, he divided Bardoli into several zones – each with a leader and volunteers specifically assigned. Patel also placed some activists close to the government, to act as informers on the movements of government officials. He also instructed the farmers to remain completely non-violent, and not respond physically to any incitements or aggressive actions from officials. He reassured them that the struggle would not end until not only the cancellation of all taxes for the year, but also when all the seized property and lands were returned to their rightful owners. The Government declared that it would crush the revolt. Along with tax inspectors, bands of Pathans were gathered from northwest India to forcibly seize the property of the villagers and terrorize them. The Pathans and the men of the collectors forced themselves into the houses and took all property, including cattle (resisters had begun keeping their cattle inside their locked homes when the collectors were about, in order to prevent them from seizing the animals from the fields). In 1928, an agreement was finally brokered by a Parsi member of the Bombay government. The Government agreed to restore the confiscated lands and properties, as well as cancel revenue payment not only for the year, but cancel the 30% raise until after the succeeding year. Even when farmers were celebrating their success in the movement, but Patel continued to work to ensure that all lands and properties were returned to every farmer, and that no one was left out. When the Government refused to ask the people who had bought some of the lands to return them, wealthy sympathizers from Bombay bought them out, and returned the lands to the rightful owners.

Moplah Rebellion

There is controversy among historians whether Mopala rebellion was propelled by religious   reasons or agricultural crisis or both. Contemporary British administrators and modern historians differ markedly in their assessment of the incident, debating whether the revolts were triggered off by religious fanaticism or agrarian grievances. The Moplah rebellion or Malabar rebellion was an armed uprising in 1921 against British authority in the Malabar region of Southern India by Mappilas and the culmination of a series of Mappila revoltsthat recurred throughout the 19th century and early 20th century. The 1921 rebellion began as a reaction against a heavy-handed crackdown on the Khilafat Movement, a campaign in defense of the Ottoman Caliphate, by the British authorities in the Eranad and Valluvanad taluks of Malabar. The Mappilas attacked and took control of police stations, British government offices, courts and government treasuries. The British Government put down the rebellion with an iron fist, British and Gurkha regiments were sent to the area and Martial Law imposed. One of the most noteworthy events during the suppression later came to be known as the “Wagon tragedy”, in which 67 out of a total of 90 Mappila prisoners destined for the Central Prison in Podanur suffocated to death in a closed railway goods wagon. For six months from August 1921, the rebellion extended over 2,000 square miles (5,200 km2) – some 40% of the South Malabar region of the Madras Presidency. An estimated 10,000 people lost their lives, although official figures put the numbers at 2337 rebels killed, 1652 injured and 45,404 imprisoned.The most prominent leaders of the rebellion were Variankunnath Kunjahammad Haji, Sithi Koya Thangal and Ali Musliyar.

Telangana Rebellion

The Telangana Rebellion, started in 1946 was a peasant rebellion against the feudal lords of the Telangana region and, later, the princely state of Hyderabad, between 1946 and 1951. The communists led a series of successful attempts at organising the rebellion and distribution of land. With the Nizam holding on, even after the proclamation of Indian independence, the communists stepped up their campaign, stating that the flag of the Indian union was also the flag of the people of Hyderabad, much against the wishes of the ruling Asaf Jah dynasty. The farmers started the revolt in 1946 against the oppressive feudal lords and quickly spread to the Warangal and Bidar districts in around 4000 villages. Peasant farmers and labourers revolted against local feudal landlords (jagirdars and deshmukhs), who were ruling the villages known as samsthans. These samsthans were ruled mostly by Deshasthas, Reddys and Velama, known as doralu. They ruled over the communities in the village and managed the tax collections (revenues) and owned almost all the land in that area. The Nizam had little control over these regions except the capital, Hyderabad. Chakali Ilamma, belonging to the Rajaka caste, had revolted against ‘zamindar’ Ramachandra Reddy, during the struggle when he tried to take her 4 acres of land. Her revolt inspired many to join the movement. The agitation led by communists was successful in taking over 3000 villages from the feudal lords and 10,00,000 acres of agriculture land was distributed to landless peasants. Around 4000 peasants lost their lives in the struggle fighting feudal private armies. It later became a fight against Nizam Osman Ali Khan, Asif Jah VII. The initial modest aims were to do away with the illegal and excessive exploitation meted out by these feudal lords in the name of bonded labour. The most strident demand was for the writing off of all debts of the peasants that were manipulated by the feudal lords.

Tebhaga Movement

The Tebhaga movement was significant peasant agitation, initiated in Bengal by the Kisan Sabha (peasant front of the Communist Party of India) in 1946–47. At that time sharecroppers had contracted to give half of their harvest to the landlords. The demand of the Tebhaga (sharing by thirds) movement was to reduce the landlord share to one third. In many areas the agitations turned violent, and landlords fled, leaving parts of the countryside in the hands of Kisan Sabha. In 1946, sharecroppers began to assert that they would pay only one-third and that before division the crop would stay in their godowns and not that of the Jotedars. The sharecroppers were encouraged by the fact that the Bengal Land Revenue Commission had already made this recommendation in its report to the government. The movement resulted in clashes between Jotedars and Bargadars(sharecroppers). As a response to the agitation, the Muslim League ministry in the province launched the Bargadari Act, which provided that the share of the harvest given to the landlords would be limited to one third of the total. However, the law was not fully implemented. The Bengal Land Revenue Commission popularly known as Floud Commission had made recommendation in favour of the share-croppers. The leaders of the movement were too many and some of them are Ila Mitra, Kansari Halder, Moni Singh, Bishnu Chattopadhyay, M.A. Rasul, Moni Guha, Charu Majumdar, Abani Lahiri, Gurudas Talukdar, Samar Ganguly, Bimola Mandal, Sudher Mukherjee, Sudipa Sen, Moni Krishna Sen, Subodh Roy, Budi ma etc.

The Kisan Sabha movement

The Kisan Sabha movement started in Bihar under the leadership of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati who had formed in 1929 the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS) in order to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights. Gradually the peasant movement intensified and spread across the rest of India.  All these radical developments on the peasant front culminated in the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) at the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress in April 1936 with Swami Sahajanand Saraswati elected as its first President. Although born in North-Western Provinces (present-day Uttar Pradesh), his social and political activities focussed mostly on Bihar in the initial days, and gradually spread to the rest of India with the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha. He had set up an ashram at Bihta, near Patna and carried out most of his work in the later part of his life from there. He was an intellectual, prolific writer, social reformerand revolutionary. The Kisan Sabha movement started in Bihar under the leadership of Saraswati who had formed in 1929 the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS) in order to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights, and thus sparking the farmers’ movements in India.

The movement also involved prominent leaders such as N. G. Ranga and E. M. S. Namboodiripad. The Kisan Manifesto, which was released in August 1936, demanded abolition of the zamindari system and cancellation of rural debts. In October 1937, the AIKS adopted the red flag as its banner. Soon, its leaders became increasingly distant with Congress, and repeatedly came in confrontation with Congress governments in Bihar and United Province. Saraswati organised the Bakasht Movement in Bihar in 1937–1938. “Bakasht” means self-cultivated. The movement was against the eviction of tenants from Bakasht lands by zamindars and led to the passing of the Bihar Tenancy Act and the Bakasht Land Tax. He also led the successful struggle in the Dalmia Sugar Mill at Bihta, where peasant-worker unity was the most important characteristic. On hearing of Saraswati’s arrest during the Quit India Movement, Subhash Chandra Bose and All India Forward Bloc decided to observe 28 April as All-India Swami Sahajanand Day in protest of his incarceration by the British Raj. Saraswati died on 26 June 1950. At the time Subhash Chandra Bose, leader of the Forward Bloc, said, “Swami Sahajanand Saraswati is, in the land of ours, a name to conjure with. The undisputed leader of the peasant movement in India, he is today the idol of the masses and the hero of millions.”

Munda Rebellion

Munda Rebellion is one of the prominent 19th century tribal rebellions in the subcontinent. Birsa Munda led this movement in the region south of Ranchi in 1899-1900. the ulgulan, meaning ‘Great Tumult’, sought to establish Munda Raj and independence. The Mundas traditionally enjoyed a preferential rent rate as the khuntkattidar or the original clearer of the forest. But in course of the 19th century they had seen this khuntkatti land system being eroded by the jagirdars and thikadars coming as merchants and moneylenders.

This process of land alienation had begun long before the advent of the British. But the establishment and consolidation of British rule accelerated the mobility of the non-tribal people into the tribal regions. The incidence of forced labour or beth begari also increased dramatically. Unscrupulous contractors, moreover, had turned the region, into a recruiting ground for indentured labour. Yet another change associated with British rule was the appearance of a number of Lutheran, Anglican and Catholic missions. The spread of education through missionary activities made the tribals more organised and conscious of their rights. Tribal solidarity was undermined as the social cleavage between the Christian and non-Christian Mundas deepened. The agrarian discontent and the advent of Christianity, therefore, helped the revitalisation of the movement, which sought to reconstruct the tribal society disintegrating under the stresses and strains of colonial rule.

Birsa Munda was a folk hero and a tribal freedom fighter hailing from the Munda tribe. He was a spearhead behind the Millenarian movement that arose in the Biharand Jharkhand belt in the early 19th century under the British colonisation. Birsa Munda’s slogan threatening the British Raj—Abua raj seter jana, maharani raj tundu jana (“Let the kingdom of the queen be ended and our kingdom be established”)—is remembered today in areas of Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh.

The British colonial system intensified the transformation of the tribal agrarian system into a feudal state. As the tribals with their primitive technology could not generate a surplus, non-tribal peasantry were invited by the chiefs in Chhotanagpur to settle on and cultivate the land. This led to the alienation of the lands held by the tribals. The new class of Thikadars was of a more rapacious kind and eager to make the most of their possessions.In 1856 Jagirs stood at about 600, and they held from a village to 150 villages. But by 1874, the authority of the old Munda or Oraon chiefs had been almost entirely annulled by that of the farmers, introduced by the landlords. In some villages they had completely lost their proprietary rights, and had been reduced to the position of farm labourers.

To the twin challenges of agrarian breakdown and culture change, Birsa along with the Munda responded through a series of revolts and uprisings under his leadership. In 1895, in Chalkad village of Tamar, Birsa Munda renounced Christianity, took sacred thread, became a Vaishnav asked his fellow tribesmen to worship only one God and give up worship of bongas. He advice people to follow the path of purity, austerity and prohibited cow- slaughters. He declared himself a prophet who had come to get back the lost kingdom of their people. He told that the reign of the Queen Victoria was over and the Munda Raj had begun. He gave orders to the raiyats to pay no rents. The mundas called him Dharati Aba, the father of earth.