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PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 1st May to 9th May – 2020

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  • May 12, 2020
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Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 1st May to 9th May – 2020

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GS-2

Government raises Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Minor Forest Produce (MFP)

(Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections)

In view of the exceptional and very difficult circumstances currently prevailing in the country on  account of COVID-19 pandemic and the potential of the instant scheme to offer the much needed support to the tribal MFP gatherers and therefore has raised MSP for 49 items.

The MSP for MFPs is revised once in every 3 years by the Pricing Cell constituted under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India.

The Saras Collection on the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal

A unique initiative of GeM and the DeenDayalAntyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development, the Saras Collection showcases daily utility products made by rural self-help groups (SHGs) and aims to provide SHGs in rural areas with market access to Central and State Government buyers. Under this initiative, the SHG sellers will be able to list their products in 5 product categories, namely 

(i) Handicrafts

(ii) Handloom and textiles

(iii) Office accessories

(iv) Grocery and pantry

(v) Personal care and hygiene

Minimum Support Price for Minor Forest Produce Scheme

  • The scheme for forest produce has been started with following objectives:
    • To provide fair price to the MFP gatherers and enhance their income level. 
    • To ensure sustainable harvesting of MFPs.
    • To ensure huge social dividend for MFP gatherers, majority of whom are tribals.
  • Earlier, the scheme was only implemented in States having Schedule areas as listed in the Fifth Schedule of the constitution of India. 
  • Since 2016, the scheme is applicable in all States.

Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) 

  • It came into existence in 1987
  • It is a national-level apex organization. 
  • The basic objective of the TRIFED is to provide good price of the ‘Minor Forest Produce (MFP) collected by the tribes of the country.
  • It functions under Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Govt. of India.
  • TRIFED has its Head Office at New Delhi. 
  • It has a network of 13 Regional Offices located at various places in the country.

Minor Forest Produce (MFP)

  • Section 2(i) of the Forest Rights Act defines a Minor Forest Produce (MFP) as all non-timber forest produce of plant origin and includes bamboo, brushwood, stumps, canes, cocoon, honey, waxes, Lac, tendu/kendu leaves, medicinal plants etc.
  • The definition of “minor forest produce” includes bamboo and cane, thereby changing the categorization of bamboo and cane as “trees” under the Indian Forest Act 1927.

Let us revise Forest Rights Act (FRA) 

  • Grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities, partially correcting the injustice caused by the forest laws.
  • Makes a beginning towards giving communities and the public a voice in forest and wildlife conservation.

Why is it required?

  • India’s forests are home to crores of people, including many Scheduled Tribes, who live in or near the forest areas of the country.
  • Since times immemorial, the tribal communities of India have had an integral and close knit relationship with the forests and have been dependent on the forests for livelihoods and existence in the form of minor forest produce, water, grazing grounds and habitat for shifting cultivation.
  • For the first time Forest Rights Act recognises and secures community Rights or rights over common property resources of the communities in addition to their individual rights.
  • Supporters of the Act claim that it will redress the “historical injustice” committed against forest dwellers, while including provisions for making conservation more effective and more transparent.

What are the rights granted under the Act?

  • Title rights – i.e. ownership – to land that is being fared by tribals or forest dwellers as on 13 December 2005, subject to a maximum of 4 hectares; ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family as on that date, meaning that no new lands are granted.
  • Use rights – to minor forest produce (also including ownership), to grazing areas, to pastoralist routes.
  • Relief and development rights – to rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection
  • Forest management rights – to protect forests and wildlife
  • Right to intellectual property and traditional knowledge related to biodiversity and cultural diversity
  • Rights of displaced communities
  • Rights over developmental activities

Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) authorizes the States give the Gram Sabah’s power to regulate and restrict

  • sale/consumption of liquor
  • ownership of minor forest produce
  • power to prevent alienation of land and restore alienated land
  • power to manage village markets, control money lending to STs
  • power to manage village markets, control money lending to STs and Mandatory executive functions to approve plans of the Village Panchayats, identify beneficiaries for schemes, issue certificates of utilization of funds.

Impact of FRA

Land Conflicts

  • Recognition of rights will check conflict over resources
  • Will decrease conflict among tribal and between them and outsiders
  • Simplify land acquisition process as the rights of the individuals could be easily ascertained

Social Impact

  • Identification of land rights would create a sense of empowerment and security
  • Decrease in alienation from land will protect tribal culture also
  • Will strengthen democratic decentralization by empowering Gram Sabha
  • Will check harassment by outsiders, including forest bureaucracy

Economic Impact

  • Land right would ensure tribal can economically utilize the land and would also incentivize investment on the land
  • Right over forest produce will help in increasing their income
  • Proper compensation would be awarded in case of acquisition of land

Committees on ‘Minor Forest Produce’

A.K.Sharma Committee: The committee was set up to look in to the issues related with the ownership of the Gram Sabha, fair prices, institutional mechanism, value addition, etc. and suggest remedial measures including Ownership, Price fixation, Value addition and Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP)

T Haque Committee:

  • The Ministry of Panchayati Raj had constituted a Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. T. Haque to look into different aspects of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) management in fifth schedule areas which has recommended for fixation of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for 14 MFPs in its final report.
  • These are Tamarind, Mahuwa flower, Mahuwa seed, Tendu leaf, Bamboo, Sal Seed, Myrobalan, Chironji, Lac, Gum karaya, Honey, Seeds of Karanja, Neem and Puwad.
  • To operationalizing the MSP for selected MFPs, the earlier Planning Commission had suggested for Central Price Fixation Commission for MFP as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • All primary collectors including tribal and people living in and around the forests involved in the MFP collection will be benefitted.

Solve: Implementation of the Forest Rights Act, in letter and spirit, will not only help resolve the increasing land conflicts but also help uplift the economic and social status of forest dwellers. Analyse.


The Future of River Management

(Topic: Government schemes and policies)

The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti and National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) organized an IDEAthon on “The future of River Management’ to explore how the COVID-19 crisis can shape River Management strategies for the future.

The Sustainable Development Goals which have a very definitive vision for water governance, are what governments should be aiming towards, especially given the significance of river basin management for India. It necessitates a shift towards multi-stakeholder and inter-ministerial approaches, as well as integrated information systems.

NMCG is also working with GIZ in developing the River Basin Organization and also River Basin Planning and Management Cycle to develop an adaptive framework under Namami Gange for Ganga river basin management.

  • A baseline integration of data systems acquired and accumulated by various Ministries will be helpful in better management and implementation of action plans. 
  • Water governance of the future, will have to integrate efforts not only within the government infrastructure, but those of communities, societies, NGOs, action groups, startups and individuals as well. 
  • Though it is very difficult to calculate economic value of intangible things but economic evaluation of the ecosystem services is also one of the areas where focus is needed for better management of natural resources. 
  • The concept of ‘Arth Ganga’: Government expenditures on irrigation, flood control and dams, interventions like promotion of organic farming, fisheries, medical plantation, tourism and transportation and biodiversity parks are some of the proven models of Arth Ganga.
  • There is a need of adaptive governance which should be how river management is to be approached to incorporate future challenges with collaborative partnership.

Essay Topic: It is now, “not the survival of the fittest, but survival of the most adaptive.” 


Launch of INR – USD Futures and Options contracts in the International Exchanges at GIFT-IFSC

(Topic: Government policies related to Indian economy)

Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs launched INR-USD Futures and Options contracts on the two International Exchanges, viz BSE’s India INX and NSE’s NSE-IFSC, at GIFT International Financial Services Centre 

Over the last decade or so a significant market share in financial services related to India has moved to other international financial centres. Bringing this business to India is clearly beneficial in terms of economic activity and employment gains for India. The launch of INR-USD contracts at the exchanges in GIFT-IFSC is a step in this direction. This will be available 22 hours across all time zones for all global participants from GIFT IFSC.

Given the world class business environment and competitive tax regime at GIFT-IFSC, it is expected that trading of INR-USD contracts may bring volumes to India. This would also bring larger global participation in India through IFSC and connect India’s IFSC globally.


Government of India & AIIB sign agreement for $500 million COVID-19 support for India

(Topic: India and important international bodies)

The Government of India and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) signed a US$ 500 million “COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project” to help India to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen its public health preparedness. This is the first ever health sector support from the Bank to India.

This new support will cover all States and Union Territories across India and address the needs of infected people, at-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel and service providers, medical and testing facilities, and national and animal health agencies.

It will also help address potential significant negative externalities in the event of a widespread COVID-19 outbreak, including comprehensive health awareness and behaviour change campaigns on hygiene practices, wearing masks, social distancing, and mental health and psychological services for vulnerable communities.

The project is being financed by the World Bank and AIIB in the amount of $1.5 billion, of which $1.0 billion will be provided by World Bank and $500 million will be provided by AIIB.

The project will be implemented by the National Health Mission (NHM), the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.


GS-3

Launch of Kisan Sabha App

(Topic: Agriculture and marketing)

Aim: 

  • To connect farmers to supply chain and freight transportation management system
  • To provide the most economical and timely logistics support to the farmers and increase their profit margins by minimizing interference of middlemen and directly connecting with the institutional buyers. 
  • To provide best market rates of crops by comparing nearest mandis, booking of freight vehicle at cheapest cost thereby giving maximum benefit to the farmers

Features

  • The portal connects the farmers, transporters, Service providers (like pesticides/ fertilizer/ dealers, cold store and warehouse owner), mandi dealers, customers (like big retail outlets, online stores, institutional buyers) and other related entities for timely and effective solution.
  • The portal acts as a single stop for every entity related to agriculture, be they a farmer who needs better price for the crops or mandi dealer who wants to connect to more farmers or truckers who invariably go empty from the mandis.
  • KisanSabha also works for people in agriculture services sector such as dealers of fertilizers/ pesticides,who can reach out to more farmers for their services.
  • It would also prove to be useful for those associated with cold store(s) or godown(s). KisanSabha also provides a platform for people who want to buy directly from the farmers

Green Gold: Bamboo

(Topic: Agriculture sector (Indian Economy))

Known as green gold, bamboo is ubiquitous as it dominates rural and urban landscapes. From artifacts to sustainable architecture, bamboo remains a favourite as it’s fast to grow, low on maintenance and has versatile potential.

Known as ‘poor man’s timber’, bamboo is omnipresent in tribal cultures and community living. Rural communities engage with bamboo handicrafts, textiles, artifacts, and household utilities. Examples include Tripura bamboo silks, heritage cuisines with roasted and pickled bamboo shoots, cultural symbols like the Assamese ‘Jaapi’ (made of bamboo, cane, and palm), widely popular bamboo tree houses, machans, besides modern sustainable architectural concepts and musical instruments.

Government’s Efforts

  • India is the world’s second-largest cultivator of bamboo after China, with 136 species and 23 genera spread over 13.96 million hectares, according to the State of Environment report 2018. 
  • The National Bamboo Mission, under the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, has been initiated to provide a boost to livelihood and environmental acreage. 
  • Additionally, in 2017, Parliament ‘declassified’ bamboo as ‘a tree’ on non-forest lands.
  • Similarly, a scheme called SFURTI (Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries) is being implemented by the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in order to boost traditional industries and bamboo artisans.
  • Amendment has been brought about in the 100 year old Indian Forest Act brought about by the Modi government in 2017, as a result of which, home grown bamboo has been exempted from it in order to enhance livelihood opportunities through bamboo.

While the total requirement of “Agarbatti” in India is about 2,30,000 per annum and the market value of it is up to Rs 5000 crore, we have been importing a large bulk of it from countries like China and Vietnam. In the Post – COVID era, it is an opportunity for the North Eastern region to help India become world competitive and self-sufficient in the changed scenario

Way Forward:

  • There is a need to work out a time bound plan for promotion of bamboo manufacturing and trade
  • Work out feasibility of Public Private Partnership (PPP) in this sector. 

Key pointers:

  • Northeast consists 60% of India’s reserve of Bamboo.
  • India has the world’s largest fields of bamboo. It grows on nearly 13% of the country’s forest land.
  • The eight North-eastern States – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura – grow 67% of India’s bamboo and have 45% of global bamboo reserves.
  • Nearly 35 species of superior quality bamboos are found in the region.
  • Every year, September 18 is observed as the World Bamboo Day by the World Bamboo Organisation

Bamboo and culture

  • A popular process known as ‘Do’o Brenga’, where chicken is cooked inside the hollow of a fresh, green bamboo is popular in north-eastern states. Spicy ingredients are stuffed inside the bamboo and placed on fire for distinct flavours. 
  • Baskets, fishing nets, storage vessels, mug-handles used in ‘Longpi’ pottery from Manipur are other uses.
  • Musical instruments like Assamese ‘Gogona’ used in Bihu dance, ‘Tirio’ (a flute made by the Santhals) of central India, and ‘Pangsi’ (a type of flute) crafted by the ‘Tiwa’ community in Assam are some rare gems made of bamboo.
  • In 2017, Moa Subong (56), a musician from Dimapur, Nagaland was awarded the National award at the 9th National Grassroots Innovation Awards for his unique innovation ‘BamHum’, a wind musical instrument made of bamboo.
  • ‘Jaapi’ from Assam and ‘Khumbeu’ from Mizoram are woven from bamboo and are important cultural symbols from these states. Crafted intricately with bamboo fibre, ‘Jaapi’ is a conical headgear popular in Assam, which is not only an important cultural expression but is also used by tea workers as umbrellas in the gardens. Ceremonial ‘Khumbeu’ or Mizo hats are made of bamboo and ‘hnahthial’ leaves belonging to the state of Mizoram, which has 57 percent of the geographical area under Bamboo cover (Government of Mizoram, 2017).
  • Heritage weaves from the state of Tripura including Tripura silks, involve indigenous skills of weaving bamboo fibres after soaking them in water. It is one of the finest quality organic silks intricately woven. This art form has gained prominence after the joint agreement on handicrafts and handlooms between Japan and the Government of Tripura (2018).

Bamboo Technology Parks

  • The project for setting up three new Bamboo Technology Parks in Jammu, Srinagar and Leh would be in consonance with the National Bamboo Mission (NBM).
  • A Bamboo Industrial Park has already been approved to be set up in the Dima Hasao district of Assam.

Bamboo can be processed into multiple products, including bio-diesel and green fuel, wooden lumbers and plywood, which can change the entire face of the economy and create employment opportunities in multiple sectors. India houses immense potential to cultivate this green industry, promote sustainable production and consumption envisaged under Sustainable Development Goals (SDG#12), and contribute to ecological and cultural wealth, at the same time.

Solve: Impact on lockdown on Livelihood of Tribals


Study of flowering plant endemism of Northern Western Ghats highlights importance of plateaus in conservation plans

(Topic: Environment)

Scientists at the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology have come up with plant data of the Northern Western Ghats which indicates that plateaus, in addition to the forests, should be prioritized for conservation of the Northern Western Ghats.

It is the plateaus and the cliffs that harbour most of the endemic species, thus increasing their importance in conservation plans. A majority of the endemic species are therophytes, which complete their life cycle in a short period during monsoon.

The Western Ghats of India is one of the global biodiversity hotspots owing to the endemism that is sheltered by a chain of mountains. The northern part of this biodiversity hotspot, along with the Konkan region, is considerably different from its southern and central counterparts on account of lesser precipitation and extended dry season.

Technology

A. COVID-19 – Scientists to culture novel coronavirus in human lung epithelial cell: To understand the molecular and pathological characteristics of the novel coronavirus, with a view of establishing a rational basis for testing potential drugs in vitro

B. CSIR IGIB and TATA Sons sign an MoU for licensing KNOWHOW related to development of a kit for rapid and accurate diagnosis of COVID-19

  • It is a completely indigenous scientific invention and FELUDA for COVID-19 has been designed for mitigating the ongoing COVID-19 situation and cater to mass testing
  • Its main advantages are its affordability, relative ease of use and non-dependency on expensive Q-PCR machines

C. IIT Bombay Professor receives Young Career Award in Nano Science & Technology 2020 for Advanced Transistor Technologies: Professor Saurabh Lodha

D. DST INSPIRE Faculty develops nanomaterials having energy storage application & optical sensors for water pollution control. 

  • The SERS can help detect harmful molecules present in water at ultra-low concentrations.
  • Their focus on energy and optoelectronics devices paves the way for the development of cost-effective and efficient devices, which can be used for energy storage application. 
  • Their findings make way for materials which can be used as advanced photodetectors and also be used as optical sensors for water pollution control.

E. Launch of Compendium of Indian Technologies for Combating COVID-19: This compendium will serve as a ready-reference for policy makers, industries, entrepreneurs, startups, MSMEs, research scholars, scientists and others. Categorised under 3Ts of Tracking, Testing and Treating, most of these technologies are proof-of-concept (POC) tested and can help the entrepreneurs to take the product to market faster as they do not have to reinvent the wheel.

F. JNCASR scientists fabricate energy-efficient photodetector for security application: 

  • It could help detect weak scattered light as an indication of unwanted activity
  • The detector exhibits a rapid response of 40 microseconds and can detect low light intensities
  • The device covers a broad spectral range from Ultraviolet to Infrared

Importance: Photodetectors are the heart of any optoelectronic circuit that can detect light and are employed for a wide variety of applications ranging from controlling automatic lighting in supermarkets to detecting radiation from outer galaxy as well as security-related applications. However, the material cost and the intricate fabrication processes involved in realizing high-performance detectors make them unaffordable for day to day applications.

G. CSIR through its NMITLI program approves a multi institutional project to develop human monoclonal antibodies (hmAbs) that can neutralize SARS-CoV-2 in patients: The project aims to generate hmAbs to SARS-CoV-2 from convalescent phase of COVID-19 patients and select high affinity and neutralizing antibodies. The project also aims to anticipate future adaptation of the virus and generate hmAbs clones that can neutralize the mutated virus so that could be readily used for combating future SARS-CoV infections

Please Note:

Operation “Samudra Setu”

Indian Navy has launched Operation “Samudra Setu” – meaning “Sea Bridge”, as a part of national effort to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas. Indian Naval Ships Jalashwa and Magar are presently enroute to the port of Malè, Republic of Maldives to commence evacuation operations

Soil Health Card Scheme

Soil Health Cards are provided to all farmers at an interval of 2 years. these cards provide information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil along with recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.

Deterioration of soil chemical, physical and biological health is considered as one of the reasons for stagnation of agricultural productivity in India. Soil Health Card provides two sets of fertilizer recommendations for six crops including recommendations of organic manures.  Farmers can also get recommendations for additional crops on demand.  They can also print the card as their own from SHC portal. SHC portal has farmers database of both the cycles and is available in 21 languages for the benefit of the farmers.

A 2017 study by the National Productivity Council (NPC) found that the SHC scheme has promoted sustainable farming and led to a decrease of use of chemical fertilizer application in the range of 8-10%. Besides, overall increase in the yield of crops to the tune of 5-6% was reported due to application of fertilizer and micro nutrients as per recommendations available in the Soil Health Cards.

‘One Nation One Ration Card’ national portability platform:

  • Under this scheme, eligible beneficiaries would be able to avail their entitled food grains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) from any fair-price shop in the country.
  • While the scheme was launched in June 2019, it was only in January 2020 that 12 states—Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana and Tripura—were integrated into the system.
  • Consequently, last week, after the Supreme Court directed the Centre to consider whether it is feasible for it to implement this initiative at this stage, keeping in view the hardship caused by the lockdown, five more states were added to the system, taking the total integrated states to 17. These states are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Daman and Diu, and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Ration cardholders eligible for subsidized food grains can buy up to 5 kilograms of rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg and coarse grains at Rs 1/kg per month.

Low Pressure area over south Andaman Sea & adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal

Fact Check: The frequency of the cyclones is lower in Arabian sea when compared to Bay of Bengal. This is because – 

  • Bay of Bengal being a closed and a smaller water body, it has higher surface temperature compared to Arabian sea.
  • North Western region of Pacific ocean has the highest proportion of global tropical cyclones. These cyclones which originate in the Pacific ocean start moving towards south western direction and finally reach Bay of Bengal. But by the time they reach, they almost lose their energy and only remnants of cyclones reach Bay of Bengal.
  • Similarly the cyclones originated in Bay of Bengal reach Arabian sea but only remnants of cyclones after shedding their energy while traversing over the peninsular landmass.

DAY-NRLM: DAY-NLRM aims to reduce poverty through promotion of diversified and gainful self-employment while creating skilled wage employment opportunities. The scheme supports building social capital and ensuring financial linkages to alleviate poverty and enhance the quality of the life of rural poor women. It has ambitious plans on innovations for alternate channels of financial inclusion like digital finance, creating value chains around rural products and improving market access, rural enterprise and strengthening community institutions.

About GeM: Government e Marketplace (GeM) is a 100 percent Government owned Section 8 Company set up as the National Public Procurement Portal for procurement of goods and services required by Central and State Government organizations. GeM provides an online, end to end solution for procurement of goods and services for all Central Government and State Government Ministries, Departments, Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs), local bodies and autonomous organisations. The platform reduces human interventions in procurement and enables transparency, cost savings, inclusiveness and efficiency of faceless standardized public procurement.

Satyajit Ray: Ministry of Culture’s Development of Museums and Cultural Spaces (DMCS) digitally launched the short film ‘A Ray of Genius’ to mark the beginning of the centenary celebrations of Satyajit Ray as motion-picture director, writer and illustrator. Satyajit Ray lives on in our memory through films like Pather Panchali, Charulata, Teen Kanya, Sonar Kella and the ‘Apu Trilogy’. With Pather Panchali (Song of the Road), Indian cinema was launched on the world stage.

Jamini Roy: National Gallery of Modern Art paid tribute to the pioneering artist Jamini Roy on his 133rd Birth Anniversary year through virtual tour. This virtual tour of Jamini Roy has been represented in nine segments (Bird & Beast, Calligraphy & Sketches, Epic Myth & Folk Cults, Krishna Leela, Life of Christ, Mother & Child, Portrait & Landscapes, Santhals, Village life & Women)  showing the variations of mood in his creation, showing 203 out of 215 art works from the permanent collection of NGMA.

Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

  • Also known by his pen name Bhanu Singha Thakur (Bhonita), and also known by his sobriquets Gurudev, Kabiguru, and Biswakabi, was a polymath, poet, musician, artist and ayurveda-researcher from the Indian subcontinent
  • He is sometimes referred to as “the Bard of Bengal”
  • Author of the “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse” of Gitanjali, he became in 1913 the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature
  • As a humanist, universalist, internationalist, and ardent anti-nationalist, he denounced the British Raj and advocated independence from Britain. As an exponent of the Bengal Renaissance, he advanced a vast canon that comprised paintings, sketches and doodles, hundreds of texts, and some two thousand songs; his legacy also endures in the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University.
  • Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced) and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works, and his verse, short stories, and novels were acclaimed—or panned—for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and unnatural contemplation. 
  • His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: India’s Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh’s Amar Shonar Bangla. The Sri Lankan national anthem was inspired by his work.
  • Tagore’s Nobel Prize was stolen from the safety vault of the Visva-Bharati University, along with several other of his belongings on March 25, 2004. However, on December 7, 2004, the Swedish Academy decided to present two replicas of Tagore’s Nobel Prize, one made of gold and the other made of bronze, to the Visva-Bharati University. It inspired the fictional film Nobel Chor.
  • In the year 2011, to mark and honour Gurudev’s 150th birth anniversary, the Government of India had issued five rupee coins.
  • It was Tagore who conferred the title of ‘Mahatma’ on MK Gandhi in 1915. Although Tagore is said to have admired Gandhi, he differed with him on certain issues.
  • Rabindranath Tagore and Albert Einstein met four times between 1930 and 1931 and mutually revered each other for each other’s contributions.

Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915)

A protégé of Ranade and influenced by the British philosopher-parliamentarian Edmund Burke, Gokhale worked towards realising constitutional ideals in India for three decades and abjured the use of reactionary or revolutionary ways.

Gokhale first arrived on the national scene after cross-examining British colonial expenditure at the Welby Commission of 1897 in England. Gokhale’s work earned him praise in India as he laid bare British military financing policies that heavily burdened Indian taxpayers much to the chagrin of then Viceroy Lord Curzon — regarded among the most vituperative of racists to occupy that post.

In 1899, Gokhale joined the Indian National Congress, emerging as one of the main leaders of its ‘moderate’ wing, and gave up teaching three years later to work as a lawmaker for the remainder of his life.

At Bombay, Gokhale opposed the British government’s onerous land revenue policies, advocated free and compulsory primary education, and asked for the creation of equal opportunities to fight against untouchability. At the Imperial legislature, Gokhale played a key role in framing the Morley-Minto reforms of 1909 and advocated for the expansion of legislative councils at both the Centre and the provinces. A critic of British imperial bureaucracy, Gokhale favoured decentralisation and the promotion of panchayat and taluka bodies.

He also spoke for the Indian diaspora living in other parts of the British Empire and opposed tooth and nail the indentured labour system, raising their problems in the Imperial legislature as well as at Congress sessions.

Gokhale became Congress president at its Banaras session in 1905. This was also the time when bitter differences had arisen between his group of ‘Moderates’ and the ‘Extremists’ led by Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak among others. Matters came to a head when the two factions split at the Surat session of 1907. Historians note that despite ideological differences, Gokhale maintained cordial relations with his opponents. In 1907, he fervently campaigned for the release of Lala Lajpat Rai, who was imprisoned that year by the British at Mandalay in present-day Myanmar.

After Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India, he joined Gokhale’s group before going on to lead the independence movement. Gandhi regarded Gokhale as his political mentor, and wrote a book in Gujarati dedicated to the leader titled ‘Dharmatma Gokhale’.

Solve: Compare and contrast the nationalism of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Gopal Krishna Gokhale.

Maharana Pratap

The 13th king of Mewar, a region in north-western India in the present-day state of Rajasthan

Rana Pratap’s defiance of the mighty Mughal empire, almost alone and unaided by the other Rajput states, constitute a glorious saga of Rajput valour and the spirit of self-sacrifice for cherished principles. 

Battle of Haldighati was fought between Akbar and Maharana Pratap Singh.

Note: Maharana Pratap Sagar, also known as Pong Reservoir or Pong Dam Lake was created in 1975, by building the highest earthfill dam in India on the Beas River in the wetland zone of the Siwalik Hills of the Kangra district of the state of Himachal Pradesh. Named in the honour of Maharana Pratap (1540–1597), the reservoir or the lake is a well-known wildlife sanctuary and one of the 26 international wetland sites declared in India by the Ramsar Convention

Solve: 

  1. Marathon of Mewar
  2. Historical significance of Battle of Haldighati and struggle led by Maharana Pratap against mughal invasion?
  3. Why isn’t Maharana Pratap called ‘the Great’ like Akbar? Think…
  4. History can be distorted, but only those who study history can be trusted with amending it. Discuss.

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