Chandragupta Maurya, Chandragupta 1 and Chandragupta 2
The Nationalist movements in Indo-China
1a. Which are the countries in Indo-China? … Cambodia (now Kampuchia), Laos, Vietnam, Thailand (Old name Siam), Burma (now Myanmar), and Malaysia constitute Indo-China. This term was coined by the French who perceived the region to be in the geographical outreach of China and India. Out of these countries, Vietnam has the strongest Chinese imprint in its culture. In rest of the countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia etc. Indian influence is ore discernible.
1b. Why Vietnam matters so much for scholars of national movements? ….Out of these countries of Indo-China, Vietnam, perhaps, suffered the most acute wrenching pain in its evolution in its present form. Foreign rule, colonization, upheavals, insurgency, ideological battles, and deadly wars have punctuated this tiny country’s history. To it goes the credit of defeating the mighty Americans in a protracted war that literally bled both the nations before they got too tired to fight any further. From the two-decade-old war with America (1955 to 1975), Vietnam emerged triumphant, but with deep scars. The war rattled the United States politically, economically and socially. The defeat at the hands of a tiny Asian nation was a chastening experience for America, the mightiest nation on earth.
Vietnam grappled with myriad problems in its march for sovereignty. Its woes were its deeply entrenched feudal system, its backwardness, the succession of foreign masters, its firebrand nationalists, and its dominant neighbours (China and Japan). The war with America galvanized the nation in a way that left the whole world transfixed in awe and wonder. This is why no study of Indo-China can be complete without a full appreciation of Vietnam’s sacrifices and indomitable spirit.
1c. What Vietnam gained from colonization?… Vietnam gained freedom in 1945, two years ahead of India. But, the euphoria was short-lived. It had to fight another bloody and protracted war before emerging as a full-fledged republic. The country was under colonial domination for long periods of its history. The foreign masters were China, France, Japan and finally America. The French had tried to modernize the country and better it economically. But their motive was mainly to exploit its resources. Their efforts to modernize Vietnamese society were ill-conceived, insensitive and disruptive. Other colonial masters did little good to Vietnam. However, Vietnam also gained from the colonial subjugation. Its disparate communities did not break away to become smaller countries. The colonial rule held them together, and enforced political unity of Vietnam.
Learning English and History together … 2
October 27, 1996
An Afghan Village, Destroyed at the Hands of Men Who Vowed Peace
SAR CHESHMA, Afghanistan, Oct. 24— In a country where at least 10,000 villages have been bombed, shelled and burned into rubble, the razing of one more hamlet can pass almost unnoticed. For hundreds of thousands of Afghan families who have lost their homes, the anonymity of the loss only adds to the pain.
So when a battered Kabul taxi arrived here this morning, smoke still rising and the smell of torched ruins heavy in the air, villagers clamored to tell outsiders how Sar Cheshma had died.
Hastening down narrow lanes between fire-blackened houses, the handful of people remaining in the village abandoned for a moment their rush to board trucks waiting to carry them away as refugees.
The villagers’ story has been a familiar one in the 18 years that Afghanistan has been at war. The twist this time was that the men who destroyed Sar Cheshma were the turbaned warriors of the Taliban, the ultra-conservative Muslims who have imposed a medieval social order across much of Afghanistan.
Two years ago, the Taliban sprang from religious schools with a promise to suppress the carnage that has killed an estimated 1.5 million Afghans and driven millions from their homes.
The villagers of Sar Cheshma say 30 Taliban fighters swept in at dawn on Tuesday, then spent several hours pouring canisters of gasoline into the 120 courtyard houses and setting them on fire.
Sar Cheshma lies barely five miles from the northern outskirts of Kabul, the capital, where the Taliban forces are fighting a village-by-village battle with the forces of Ahmad Shah Massoud, a less conservative Muslim leader whose troops used Sar Cheshma briefly on Monday as a base to fire on the Taliban.
A Bloody Robe, A Koran in Ashes
A young mother and her three sons were killed by a Taliban rocket fired when the Massoud forces were in the village.
There were no further deaths in the torching, which nearly obliterated the village. But in one mud-walled courtyard after another where hundreds of people lived, little remains but buckled bed frames, melted kitchen utensils and charred piles of grain.
”Are we not humans?” sobbed a 45-year-old woman named Narwaz, rushing forward with others to greet visitors who had slipped past Taliban checkpoints posted to keep outsiders away.
Beside her, a villager named Khairuddin, 55, waved a bloodied burqa, the head-to-toe shroud that the Taliban force all women to wear outside their homes.
The garment was all that remained of his daughter, the woman killed with her sons in the Taliban rocket attack.
In a home up one of the village’s dusty pathways, another man, Najmuddin, 30, broke away from sifting through his blackened grain supply, hoping to find enough uncharred bits to carry away.
Suddenly, the grain forgotten, his face contorted, he rushed to fetch a metal bowl piled high with ashes that had been balanced on a section of broken wall. It was all that remained of a copy of the Koran that he said had been in his family for generations.
”Tyrants! Tyrants!” he shouted, referring to the Taliban. ”This is the book of God. Kill us if you must, but don’t burn our holy book!”
Their attention attracted by his cries, several neighbors rushed forward, one with a large metal plate sitting among the utensils that Najmuddin had saved from the fire. Reverentially, Najmuddin placed the bowl with the ashes onto the plate and carried it away.
”We honor these ashes,” he said, weeping. ”The Koran is the book of God.”
The shock of what happened here appeared to be all the greater among the villagers because the perpetrators were the Taliban.
When they emerged as a fighting force in 1994, the Taliban presented themselves as the harbingers of a new Afghanistan, modeled on the teachings of the Koran and inspired by a burning zeal to reunify the country.
From their original base in the southern city of Kandahar, they swept east and west, suppressing local militias that had reduced much of the country to anarchy. The Muslim clerics who led the Taliban promised that their forces would set new standards of decency in the fighting, and indeed Taliban units appear to have avoided the raping and pillaging of most of the other Afghan forces that have fought in the civil war.
But they have become widely hated for the draconian social order laid down by the Taliban leaders, which bans women from working outside the home and girls from going to school, requires men to grow beards and forbids children to fly kites or play soccer.
Since Kabul fell to the Taliban four weeks ago, there has been a series of uprisings against them in towns and villages north of the capital.
Now the Taliban have gone a step further, using tactics indistinguishable from those of other forces that have contributed to the country’s destruction.
Today, two days after the attack on Sar Cheshma, Taliban jets bombed Kalakan, a village under the control of the Massoud forces about 10 miles further north.
A reporter for the BBC who visited the village said the bombing had killed 20 civilians.
India’s economic recovery patchy but promising
The latest economic data released by the government with regard to inflation, industrial growth and foreign trade has one un-refutable conclusion. The economy is slowly getting back to its feet, but areas of weakness still persist. The pervasive gloom is gone, and the green shoots are visible.
The Wholesale price inflation has come down sharply dropping to 3.7% in August, 2014. It is the lowest level recorded in the last five years. But, retail price inflation, the index that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) watches most keenly is hovering around at a high of 7.8%. Another worry is the insipid Industrial output growth in July, 2014 which recorded a disappointing 0.5% growth. It has plummeted to this near-zero level from 3.9% recorded in June, just a month earlier. Another worrying sign is the export figures of August, 2014 that has shrunk to 2.35%, lowest in the preceding five months. The patchy performance in respect of manufacture of consumer durables & capital goods dampens the optimism considerably. It shows that the economy has much catching-up to do.
How to write a report?
If you are a person with some authority like a class monitor, a Tahsildar, a manager, or a senior government officer, occasions will arise when you will be asked to submit a report about some complaint, mishap, incident, accident or any such unpleasant thing. The question arises, how you will proceed. In most instances, you will need to follow the following steps.
Step 1 .. Collect evidence / information about the issue in hand.
Step 2 .. Evaluate the information collected.
Step 3 .. Present your findings in an objective and concise manner.
Step 4 .. Additionally, you may recommendations for discussion or future action. Continue reading
Soviet Union’s birth and death — Note for school students
The Soviet Union .. Understanding its rise, glorious existence and its self-destruction (implosion)
The Soviet Union does not exist today. So, you will see it in old world atlases, not in the modern ones.
The Soviet Union was officially known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
Countries / regions that made up the Soviet Union (USSR) …
1. Russia (Main region)
Soviet Union was a huge landmass stretching from eastern Europe in the west to the Sea of Japan in the east, and from the Arctic in the north to Afghanistan in the south. [Sea World Atlas in the internet.]
It was a very powerful country with huge resources and a military force equal to or even stronger that of the United States of America. It had thousands and thousands of nuclear bombs, rockets, ships, guns and fighter planes. In resources such as crude oil, natural gas, coal, iron ore, diamond, forests, lakes and rivers, it was a very rich country.
In space, it was possibly a step ahead of America. Its huge industries making iron and steel were an envy of the whole world.
Its military and political influence was apparent in far-off Africa, Asia and Latin America.
America and its western allies like Britain, France, Germany, Italy etc. were very afraid of the Soviet Union’s military capabilities. Its Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) were capable of destroying any western city in minutes.
So, why did it collapse so suddenly. It all happened in a few weeks, without a single bullet being fired. There was no military attack on it. So, who destroyed it? The answer is – its own citizens and leaders destroyed it. But, why?
To understand it, one needs to examine how it was born and how it was brought up.
If you see the modern world map, you will see that Russia still stands in its original place. It has inherited the legacy of the Soviet Union. All other regions like Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus etc. are all there, but as fully independent sovereign countries.
Why and how these small countries came to join the Soviet Union, and why did they leave so promptly? Why did the Soviet Union allow them to leave?
All these things make us suspect that possibly there was something wrong in the birth, nurturing and management of the Soviet Union. What were those factors?
Birth of the Soviet Union … Continue reading
NCERT History Class 9 — The French Revolution … Part 1
In 1788, there was a massive crop failure in France as a result of which bread prices rose sharply in the country. The discontent among the poorer sections of the population was widespread. Soon, it boiled over to the streets of Paris triggering a bloody revolution that eventually engulfed the whole of France like wild fire. The ramifications of this inferno were felt all over Europe and in many other parts of the world.
The spiraling bread prices were like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. By no means, high bread prices could have unseated a centuries-old monarchy and razed a feudal structure that had prevailed over the French society with a iron grip.
Over the last three centuries, students of history have dispassionately tried to delve into the causes of this historic upheaval. Their conclusions almost converge on certain socio-economic factors, although the emphasis varies.
It is now clear that many factors were simultaneously tormenting the soul of France. First, there was the monarch who was given the status of god. Armed with the authority to rule the country till he desired, the monarch wielded unlimited power with absolutely no accountability. Such un-fettered authority defied rational scrutiny. ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely’. No wonder, the absolute monarch was seeped in luxury, ensconced in his massive Versailles palace. Evening guests comprising of sycophants, favor seekers, beautiful women and a few opportunists from the nobility flocked to his parties. It gave these guests an opportunity to pander to the sovereign’s whims and fancies. Such peccadilloes left the monarch degenerated and drained. He had no time to ‘rule’. The gulf between the suffering subjects and the aloof ruler only widened with time.
For centuries, France, through a utterly deviant system of feudalism, had divided its population into three classes –
a. Clergy (known as the first estate)
b. Nobles (the second estate) and
c. Common masses comprising of the peasants, the factory workers and members of the bourgeois (the third estate). Continue reading
The First World War (1914-18) plunged Britain into a savage, utterly destructive war. To maintain the war effort, Britain needed huge supplies of commodities and manpower. Being the biggest and the most populous colony, India got drawn into the conflict as a major source of men and material. The massive mobilization of resources from India unsettled the impoverished country in the following ways.
a. The war operations in Europe sucked huge quantities of basic commodities like wheat, rice, sugar, tea, coffee etc. The accelerated export of the items from India caused scarcity in the domestic market. Prices rose sharply bringing immense distress to the low and middle class consumers. Continue reading
J.C. Bose: The Indian scientist who blazed a new trail both as a scientist and a nationalist
Even the most skeptical western observer today agrees that Prof. J.C. Bose should have won the Nobel Prize for his many path-breaking discoveries spanning Physics, Biology and Chemistry.
The credit for discovery of the wireless should have gone to him rather than to Marconi. But, in the European psyche, an Indian scientist from a British colony simply did not deserve it. Here is his full story (Written by Parthasarathy, published earlier in The Hindu in 2002) Continue reading