Saturday, 9 July 2016

Great Leaders of Modern Times: Vladimir Putin

"Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain"
These are the words of the world's most influential and powerful figure, Vladimir Putin, the president of a Russian federation and former KGB Head. After the collapse of USSR, Putin is the most successful and popular politician in the country. In the post-soviet era, he led the crunching state through difficult times and managed to stabilise the crumbling economy of the humungous state. Under his rule, Russia emerged as 2nd most powerful country and dreams to regain the old glory back.

Putin was born on 7th October 1952, in Leningrad. Putin's mother was a factory worker and his father was a conscript in the Soviet Navy, serving in the submarine fleet in the early 1930s. At the age of 12, Putin began to practice sambo and judo. He wished to emulate the intelligence officer characters played on the Soviet screen. He studied German at Saint Petersburg High School and speaks fluent German.

Putin studied law at the Saint Petersburg State University in 1970 and graduated in 1975. Putin's thesis was on 'The Most Favored Nation Trading Principle in International Law'. While there, Putin was required to join the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and remained a member until December 1991. Putin met Anatoly Sobchak, an Assistant Professor who taught Business Law (khozyaystvennoye pravo) and was influential in Putin's career.

In 1975, Putin joined the KGB. From 1985 to 1990, Putin served in Dresden, East Germany, using a cover identity as a translator. During 1990-1996 he served as head of the Committee for External Relations of the Saint Petersburg Mayor's Office. His Moscow career began as Deputy Chief of the Presidential Property Management Department. During his tenure, Putin was responsible for the foreign property of the state and organized transfer of the former assets of the Soviet Union and Communist Party to the Russian Federation. During his early Moscow career, he was appointed as deputy chief of Presidential Staff and later chief of Presidential Staff by Boris Yeltsin. On 9th August 1999, Vladimir Putin was appointed as one of the three First Deputy Prime Ministers, and later on, that day was appointed acting Prime Minister of the Government of the Russian Federation by President Yeltsin.Yeltsin also announced that he wanted to see Putin as his successor. Still later on that same day, Putin agreed to run for the presidency. On 31st December 1999, Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned and, according to the Constitution of Russia, Putin became Acting President of the Russian Federation,While his opponents had been preparing for an election in June 2000, Yeltsin's resignation resulted in the Presidential elections being held within three months, on 26 March 2000. Putin won in the first round with 53% of the vote.

During his first presidential term, the notable achievements were the alignment of oil giants with government and neutralising the threat of Chechen rebel movement through extreme measures. In 2003, a referendum was held in Chechnya, adopting a new constitution which declares that the Republic of Chechnya is a part of Russia. On the other hand, the region did acquire autonomy. He was reelected for the second term for period 2004-2008. Putin was barred from a third term by the Constitution. First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was elected as his successor. On 4th March 2012, Putin won the 2012 Russian presidential elections in the first round, with 63.6% of the votes, despite the widespread accusations of vote-rigging. During this term, he is notoriously famous for attacking Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. As a result, several countries imposed sanctions on Russia. The economic development of Russia experienced a significant setback due to the sanctions and the concurrent fall in the world price of oil.

His relations with the West was somewhat sweet and bitter, Under Putin, Russia's relationships with NATO and the U.S. have passed through several stages. When he first became President, relations were cautious, but after the 9/11 attacks, Putin was quick to support the U.S. in the War against Terrorism and the opportunity for partnership appeared. However, the U.S. responded by further expansion of NATO to Russia's borders and by unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The relations worsened when Edward Snowden was given political asylum by Russia. Recently, o protect the interests of Russia in the Middle East and to maintain military dominance in the region, on request of the Syrian government, Russia intervened in the country to help it fighting jihadist and other externally backed anti-Assad groups.

Putin always wants himself to be projected as a tough guy and he always tries to maintain that image by flaunting his bear chested macho man activities.
To summarise, Putin has given Russia a much needed stable and strong leadership which helped the country to maintain and spread the geopolitical and military stronghold in the region. his leadership deterred U.S from establishing a uniaxial system in the world after the collapse of USSR and also helped countries like China and India to grow simultaneously.

No doubt Putin is one of the greatest leaders of today's politics, his decisions will have a great effect on the future of the entire world.

- Paritosh Nene

 1. Wikipedia
 2. Putin's Klyptocracy

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Shimla Agreement - Victory in War & Defeat in Diplomacy

Victory in War

After the Bangladesh liberated war, India held the significant landmass of Pakistan and had captured around 90,000 prisoners of war. Six months later, when the game of negotiation started at Shimla, India held all the cards to win the game. But still India is said to have lost the game when Indira Gandhi signed the Shimla agreement with Pakistani President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Let us retrospect if India really lost the game.

The Initiation of Talks
In Pakistan, Yahya Khan had resigned and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto stepped in to take his place. Bhutto told the former British prime minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home that he was keen to forge ‘an entirely new relationship with India’, beginning with a summit meeting with Mrs. Gandhi. The message was passed on, with the advice that in view of Pakistan’s wounded pride, the invitation should come from India.

The Indians were at first apprehensive, given Bhutto’s unpredictability and history of animosity against India. Confidants of the Pakistani president rushed to assure them of his good intentions. The journalist Mazhar Ali Khan, the editor of Dawn, told his fellow ex-communist the Indian Sajjad Zaheer that Bhutto was honestly trying to forget the past. New Delhi should work to strengthen his hand, otherwise, the army and the religious right would gang up to remove him, an outcome that would be disastrous for both India and Pakistan.

Zaheer and Khan had worked together in pre-Partition days as fellow activists of the Student Federation of India. Now, encouraged by their former fellow-traveller P. N. Haksar, they met in London in the third week of March 1972 to discuss the terms of a possible agreement between their two national leaders. Khan reported on these talks directly to Bhutto, while Zaheer conveyed
them via P. N. Haksar to Mrs. Gandhi.

The Talk
The Pakistani president was invited for a summit to be held in the old imperial summer capital of Simla in the last week of June 1972. He came accompanied by his daughter Benazir and a fairly large staff. First, the officials met, and then their leaders. The Indians wanted a comprehensive treaty to settle all outstanding problems including Kashmir, while the Pakistanis preferred a piecemeal approach. At a private meeting, Bhutto told Mrs. Gandhi that he could not go back to his people ‘empty-handed’.

The Pakistanis bargained hard. The Indians wanted a ‘no-war pact’; they had to settle for a mutual ‘renunciation of force’. The Indians asked for a ‘treaty’; what they finally got was an ‘agreement’. India said that they could wait for a more propitious moment to solve the Kashmir dispute, but asked for an agreement that the ‘line of control shall be respected by both sides’. Bhutto successfully pressed a caveat: ‘Without prejudice to the recognised position of either side’

However, Bhutto had apparently assured Mrs Gandhi that, once his position was more secure, he would persuade his people to accept conversion of the line of control into the international border.

Defeat in Diplomacy

The Clauses in Agreement
  1. India agreed to return the Pakistani territory it had occupied, except some strategic points in Kashmir, mainly in the Kargil sector, which were necessary to safeguard the strategic road link between Srinagar and Leh in Ladakh.
  2. In return, Pakistan agreed to respect the existing Line of Control in Kashmir and undertook not to alter it unilaterally by force or threat of force.
  3. The two countries also agreed to settle all their disputes through bilateral negotiations without any outside mediation by the UN or any other power.
  4. India also agreed to return the prisoners of war to Pakistan but this was to be contingent upon a Bangladesh– Pakistan agreement. This occurred the next year when Pakistan recognized Bangladesh in August 1973.
  5. In order to restore and normalize relations between the two countries step by step, it was agreed that: 
    1. Steps shall be taken to resume communications, postal, telegraphic, sea, land, including border posts, and air links, including overflghts
    2. Appropriate steps shall be taken to promote travel facilities for the nationals of the other country. 
    3. Trade and cooperation in economic and other agreed fields shall be resumed as far as possible. 
    4. Exchange in the fields of science and culture shall be promoted

(Check full text of agreement here)

Reactions after Treaty
The ink had hardly dried on the Simla Agreement when Bhutto reneged on this (admittedly informal) promise. On 14 July he spoke for three hours in the National Assembly of Pakistan, his text covering sixty-nine pages of closely printed foolscap paper. He talked of how he had fought ‘for the concept of one Pakistan from the age of 15’. He blamed Mujib, Yahya, and everyone but himself for the ‘unfortunate and tragic separation of East Pakistan’. Then he came to the topic that still divided Pakistan and India – the future of Jammu and Kashmir. As the victor in war, said Bhutto, ‘India had
all the cards in her hands’ – yet he had still forged an equal agreement from an unequal beginning. The Simla accord was a success, he argued, because Pakistan would get back its POWs and land held by Indian forces, and because it did ‘not compromise on the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir’. He offered the ‘solemn commitment of the people of Pakistan, that if tomorrow the people of Kashmir start a freedom movement, if tomorrow Sheikh Abdullah or Maulvi Farooq or others start a people’s movement, we will be with them’.

There was widespread displeasure in India after the signing of the treaty and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, called it a “sell out”. Vajpayee said that Pakistan’s agreement to not use force was of no consequence since Pakistan had made similar promises in the past as well, but never adhered to them. He also went on to say that some sort of a secret understanding had been agreed upon between Indira Gandhi and Zulfkar Ali Bhutto during the signing of the treaty. 

The justification Indira Gandhi offered to parliament in July 1972 for signing the Shimla Declaration was significant. She said: ‘All I know is that I must fight for peace and I must take those steps which will lead us to peace . . . The time has come when Asia must wake up to its destiny , must wake up to the real needs of its people, must stop fighting amongst ourselves, no matter what our previous quarrels, no matter what the previous hatred and bitterness. The time has come today when we must bury the past.’

Was it a failure?
Looking back between the relations between India and Pakistan, one can safely say that the Shimla Treaty did nothing much to preserve the relations between both countries which went on to deteriorate. The most recent was Operation Meghdoot in 1984 (in which India seized most of the inhospitable areas of the Saichen Glacier where the frontier had not been clearly defined in the agreement) and the Kargil war of 1999 (in which Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants had occupied positions on the Indian side of the LoC).

India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha
India since Independence by Bipin Chandra

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Annexation of Sikkim

The integration of India, which started in 1947, was formally completed in 1975 with the integration of Sikkim. On 16th May 1975, Sikkim officially became the state of Indian Union. Here we have discussed the brief history of Sikkim's annexation to India.

History of Sikkim:

  • Before 1947: In 1642,  Phuntsog Namgyal established the monarchy in Sikkim, becoming the first Chogyal(King) of Sikkim. In the 18th century, Sikkim was invaded by Bhutan and Nepal. In 1793, Chogyal reclaimed the throne with the help of China.
    With the arrival of the 
    British in neighboring India, Sikkim allied itself with them as they had a common enemy – the Gorkha Kingdom of Nepal. The infuriated Nepalese attacked Sikkim with a vengeance, overrunning most of the region including the Terai. This prompted the British East India Company to attack Nepal resulting in the Anglo-Nepalese War, which began in 1814. Treaties signed between British and Nepal – the Sugauli Treaty and Sikkim and British India – Treaty of Titalia, returned the territory annexed by the Nepalese to Sikkim in 1817.
  • After 1947: On 15the August 1947, India became independent. Sikkim had retained guarantees of independence from Britain when she became independent, and such guarantees were transferred to the Indian government when it gained independence in 1947.
    A referendum was held in Sikkim to determine the will of the Sikkimese people.
    It is important to note that at the time of independence Nepali Hindus formed the majority of the population ruled by a Buddhist monarchy. Yet, Sikkim rejected joining the Indian Union, and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to a special protectorate status for Sikkim. Sikkim came under the suzerainty of India, which controlled its external affairs, defence, diplomacy and communications, but Sikkim otherwise retained administrative autonomy.
    At the same time, Sikkim State Congress was founded in 1947 to promote democracy and to end feudalism in SikkimThings were going well in the early years after independence as the then king Tashi Namgyal favored closer links with India and advocated land reform and free elections. This allowed various political parties, representing different ethnic groups, to come up. One of them was Sikkim Praja Mandal formed by Kazi Lhendup Dorjee, who went on to become the president of Sikkim State Congress in 1953. Dorjee later met Pandit Nehru in 1954, the Indian Prime Minister promised to give assistance for the progress and economic welfare of the Sikkimese populace and assured Government of India’s support towards political reform in Sikkim.
1962 and 1965 Wars:
In 1962, India fought a war with China and in 1965, again there was a war with Pakistan. These wars highlighted the vulnerability Siliguri Corridor, famously known as Chicken Neck. In the event of a coordinated Chinese attack from Sikkim, which China claimed, and Pakistani attack from East Pakistan the two countries could isolate the North-eastern parts of India simply by gaining control of the Siliguri corridor. It became imperative to address this problem as soon as possible.

Demise of Fathers and Rise of Children:
Indian Prime Minister Nehru, who had carefully preserved Sikkim's status as an independent protectorate, died in 1964. His daughter Indira Gandhi, who became Prime Minister in 1966, would have little patience for maintaining an independent Sikkim or its monarchy. In 1968, Indira Gandhi set up Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW). It is said that R&AW played an active role in annexing Sikkim to India.
In Sikkim, the old Chogyal, Tashi Namgyal, died and was succeeded by Palden Thondup Namgyal. The new Chogyal was married to Hope Cooke, a socialite from New York. Aspiring to become the queen, she started taking the message of Sikkimese independence to the youth. It is also said that she was CIA agent.

Cho La Incident:
In 1967, the People's Republic of China sent its troops to lay claim to Sikkim, which was then a protectorate of India. The Indian Army won a decisive victory in the resulting conflict which later came to be known as the Chola incident. As a result, China withdrew its claim to Sikkim. But this incident also led to the inception of the fear of Chinese aggression.

Anti-monarchy Agitations:
In early 1970 the anti-monarchy Sikkim National Congress Party demanded fresh elections and greater representation for the Nepalese. In 1973, anti-royalty riots in front of the palace led to a formal request for protection from India. India worried that an unstable Sikkim would invite China to act on its claims that Sikkim was part of Tibet, and therefore part of China. The Indian government appointed a Chief administrator, Mr. B. S. Das, who effectively wrested control of the country away from the Chogyal.

The Referendum:
Frosty relations between the Chogyal and the elected Kazi (Prime Minister) Lhendup Dorji resulted in an attempt to block the meeting of the legislature. The Kazi was elected by the Council of Ministers which was unanimous in its opposition to the retention of the Monarchy.
The Prime Minister of Sikkim appealed to the Indian Parliament for Sikkim to become a state of India. In April 1975, Indian reserve police were moved in and took control of the streets of Gangtok, Matters came to a head when Prime Minister Dorji appealed to the Indian Parliament for representation and change of status to statehood. On 14th April 1975, a referendum was held, in which 97.5% Sikkimese voted for the merge with the union of India. On 22nd April 1975, the Government of India introduced the 36th Amendment to the Constitution making Sikkim the 22nd state of India with effect from April 26. 

On 16th May 1975, Sikkim officially became a state of the Indian Union and Lhendup Dorji became head of State (chief minister).


Sunday, 8 May 2016

1857 - First War of Independence: The Retrospect

“Among the many lessons the Indian mutiny conveys to the historian, none is of greater importance than the warning that it is possible to have a Revolution in which Brahmins and Sudras, Hindus and Mahomedans, could be united against us…”
~ George William Forrest, British historian

What British call the 'Sepoy Mutiny', was the first war independence for India. On 10th May 1857, commenced this war from which many revolutionaries drew their inspiration in the later period. Whether it was mutiny or war, whether it was failed or not, one thing is certain - it changed the course of politics in British India. That is what makes this war an important event in the India's struggle for independence. Let us have retrospect of this war.

Why it happened:
The immediate reason is well-known. The Company introduced new Enfield rifle, which required to bite the cartridge for loading the rifle. The grease used on these cartridges had (or was rumoured to have) tallow derived from beef which was offensive to Hindus and pork which was offensive to Muslims. Mangal Pandey refused to use the rifle and was hanged for his defiance. This made a way for the unrest among the soldier. In several other military cantonments,Indian soldiers refused to use new cartridges. In Meerut, 85 men were court martialled and humiliated on 9th May. The next day, the Indian troops led by 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry broke into revolt. They freed the 85 comrades from the jail and 800 other prisoners. After taking over the Meerut, they headed straight for Delhi.

But this was just an incidental reason. In reality, there was unrest among soldiers as well as civilians. There were rumours about Government's secret designs to promote conversions to Christianity. The official-missionary nexus gave credence to it. In some cantonments, missionaries were permitted to preach openly and their diatribe against other religions angered the soldiers.

Moreover, soldiers were unhappy with their emoluments. This was further aggrieved by the sense of deprivation compared to his British counterpart. Indian soldiers were made to feel subordinated and were discriminated against racially and in matters of promotion and privileges.

The grievances of peasants added to the unrest. Every soldier was the peasant in uniform. As the situation of peasants was worsening, it was getting reflected into the unrest among soldiers.

All this added to the incidental reasons commenced the war, which spread rapidly to the north Indian regions.

Role of Nobility:
British had antagonised princes, by greatly depriving their rights. 'Doctrine of Lapse' refused to recognise adopted children of princes as legal heirs. Due to this, many princes lost their titles. In areas of Central India, where such losses of privilege had not occurred, the princes remained loyal to the Company.

This is why nobility was ready to take the leadership of the revolt/war. In fact, there is one school of history which believes that the war was not merely a mutiny, but a planned conspiracy against the British rule initiated by Indian princes.

On 11th May, after capturing Delhi, soldiers appealed to the Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah II, to become their leader, thus giving legitimacy to their cause. Similarly, Nana Saheb, the last adopted son of Peshwa Baji Rao II, was leading in Kanpur. Begum Hazrat Mahal took the reigns at Lucknow. In Bihar, 70-years old Kunwar Singh, the zamindar of Jagdishpur, was leading the soldiers. The most outstanding leader of 1857 was Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi. The valour shown by her in the war made her name immortal.

Why it failed:
Though revolt spread rapidly in North India, it remained confined to the North. Most of the south India was indifferent. Even in the North India, Punjab and Bengal were not much affected. It is even said that British could not have won the war if Sikh soldier had not remained loyal to the Company. Almost half of the Indian soldiers not only did not revolt but also fought against their own countrymen.

For more than a year, soldiers carried on their struggle against heavy odds. They had no source of arms and ammunition. They were often forced to fight with swords and pikes, whereas their enemy had most modern weapons. They had no quick communication systems due to which no coordination was possible. Consequently, they were unaware of the strength and weaknesses of their compatriots. Everyone was left to play a lonely hand.

With such odds, there was never a chance for a victory. But still soldiers carried the struggle for more than year.

Indian soldiers were brutally killed without any trial.  The exaggerated figures of atrocities by Indian soldiers appalled the Brtish public who felt British actions as just. Bahadur Shah was tried and exiled to Rangoon.

The rebellion saw the end of the East India Company's rule in India. In August, by the Government of India Act 1858, the company was formally dissolved and its ruling powers over India were transferred to the British Crown. A new British government department, the India Office, was created to handle the governance of India, and its head, the Secretary of State for India, was entrusted with formulating Indian policy. The Governor-General of India gained a new title, Viceroy of India.

British Crown wanted to make sure that no such uprising would happen again. British minimized the religious intervention. To increase the consultation between ruler and ruled, they introduced some political changes drawing Indians into government at a local level. Of course, this was on a limited scale.

And the most importantly, British reorganized the army. The Bengal army dominated the Indian army before 1857 and a direct result after the rebellion was the scaling back of the size of the Bengali contingent in the army. The Brahmin presence in the Bengal Army was reduced because of their perceived primary role as mutineers. Before the rebellion, each Bengal Native Infantry regiment had 26 British officers, who held every position of authority down to the second-in-command of each company. Now there were fewer European officers, but they associated themselves far more closely with their soldiers while more responsibility was given to the Indian officers. The British increased the ratio of British to Indian soldiers within India. From 1861 Indian artillery was replaced by British units, except for a few mountain batteries. The post-rebellion changes formed the basis of the military organisation of British India until the early 20th century.

Had it been succeeded:
We can do just a guesswork here. Bahadur Shah was recognized as the Emperor by all rebel leaders. This would have helped to hold India with unity. In Delhi, the court of administrators was established during the war which was responsible for all the matters of state. All decisions were taken by the majority vote. British official described it as a constitutional monarchy. So India could have expected to get rid of slavery as well as a dictatorship. Ruled by natives, the industrialization might have started early, the famines might have been managed better and overall economy could have flourished.

On the flip side, we can't be sure for how long the unity would have remained intact. It is perfectly possible that once the foreign power was eliminated, all princely states would have fought each other leading to a war-ridden country. India would have again been disintegrated into princely states who were at each other's throat.

But these are all imaginations now. Both sides have written an innumerable account of the war (sometimes exaggerating the atrocities committed by opponents). The only truth which certain is that Indian soldiers showed unprecedented valour, rose up against the mighty empire, fought fearlessly and were ruthlessly crushed in the end. 

First war of independence witnessed many gems like Tatia Tope, Nana Saheb, Rani Laxmibai and all those unsung heroes of the war who sacrificed their lives for the freedom.

Salute to those brave hearts!

  • India's Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra
  • 1857 war of independence by Sawarkar

Sunday, 17 April 2016

First Battle of Panipat - The Retrospect


From the year . . . [1504], when Kabul was conquered, until this date [1526] I had craved Hindustan. Sometimes because my begs (high-ranking officers) had poor opinions, and sometimes because my brothers lacked cooperation, the Hindustan campaign had not been possible and the realm had not been conquered.
Emperor Babur, on conquering India, in his memoirs 

On 21st April 1526, happened the first battle of Panipat (in present day Haryana) between Babur and Ibrahim Lodi (Delhi Sultanate). This battle ultimately led to the establishment of Mughal empire, one of the biggest empires in the history. Eventually, this battle is historically very significant. Let us have retrospect of the battle.

Who was Babur:
Roots of Babur's family are traced back to other Asian conquerors. His father was a descendant of Timur while his mother's family had its roots back to Genghis Khan. At the age of 11, Babur's father died and he became the ruler of Fergana.

Why did Babur come:
Babur faced the rebellion from his own relatives. He conquered Samarkand but lost the city of Fergana. In his attempt to recapture Fergana, he lost his control over Samarkand. He made several attempts to establish his control over parts of Central Asia, but he couldn't get much success.

After losing Samarkand for the third time, he turned his attention to India. At that time, North-India was ruled by Ibrahim Lodi of Afgan Lodi dynasty. In 1524, Daulat Khan Lodi, a rebel of Lodi dynasty and governor of Lahore, invited Babur to overthrow Ibrahim Lodi.

The battle of Panipat and the death of Sultan Ibrāhīm, the last of the Lōdī Sultans of Delhi.jpg
The Battle:
Babur's army consisted 13,000 to 15,000 soldiers while Ibrahim's army consisted 30,000 to 40,000 soldiers (some sources cite this number as 1,00,000) and 1,000 elephants. But this numerical superiority of Ibrahim Lodi was compensated by the artillery of Babur.

In the ultimate battle, Babur won a decisive victory with the loss of around 4,000 of his own soldiers while killing 15,000 to 16,000 enemy soldiers (some sources cite this number as 40,000 or 50,000). Ibrahim Lodi himself died in the battle.

Why did Babur win:
Despite the numerical superiority of Lodi's forces. Babur had a decisive win in the battle. What were the factors playing the crucial role in the battle? The answer is the Technology and Tactics. Let us see how.

  • Technology
    Babur made the use of cannons. Ibrahim was relying on sheer numbers and elephants. Using tulughma formation (discussed in next section), Babur trapped Lodi's army and then used the cannons to great effect. Elephants had never heard such a loud and terrible noise. They turned around and ran through their own lines crushing Lodi's soldiers.
    Babur made successful use of gunpowder, because of which Mughal empire is known as one of the three Gunpowder Empires (Ottoman and Safavid being the other two).
  • Tactics
    Ibrahim Lodi was no tactician. On the contrary, Babur employed two tactics unfamiliar to Lodi which turned the tide of battle. The first one was tulughma formation which meant dividing the forces into various units viz. the Left, the Right, and the Centre. Left and Right units were further divided into forward and rear units. Their primary task was to surround the enemy forces and drive them towards the Centre unit, where Babur had arrayed his cannons.
    The second tactical innovation was the use of carts, called Araba. Babur shielded his artillery forces behind the row of carts. Babur ordered his men to gather up as many carts as possible. There were around 700 carts which were then tied together with leather rope. Enough space was left between each pair of carts to place five or six mantlets. Babur's matchlock men were posted behind the mantlets. This tactic prevented enemy forces to attack the artillerymen.
    Supposedly, Babur borrowed these tactics from Ottoman Turks.
After carefully deploying technology with tactics, the next task for Babur was to provoke Ibrahim Lodi to attack. Both armies forced each other weeks before the battle and Babur made several attempts to provoke the battle. Finally, on 21st April, the Ibrahim Lodi moved to attack Babur's lines. Babur's plan worked perfectly and he won the battle by noon.

Repercussions of the battle:
  • The foremost consequence of the battle was that it led the foundation of the Mughal empire which later became one of the biggest empire in the world.
  • It shifted the political interests of Babur from Kabul and Central Asia to Agra and India.
  • The battle of Panipat initiated the use of artillery in India. Till then India was not familiar with gunpowder. For the first time it was used on the Indian plains and since then it had been used in many important battles.
  • Tulghma strategy became popular in India after its successful use by Babur. Almost all Indian Rulers later on started adopting the policy of keeping a reserve army. The Indian Rulers were greatly impressed by the swiftness and movability of horses and gradually the place of elephants was taken by horses in the army.
  • It gave birth to the new struggles. As Satish Chandra writes in ‘History of Medieval India’: “In north India, Babur smashed the power of the Lodis and the Rajput confederacy led by Rana Sanga. Thereby, he destroyed the balance of power in the area. This was a long step towards the establishment of an all-India empire” 
  • Even from the cultural point of view, establishment of Mughal Empire amalgamated the Indian culture and Central Asian culture.
Overall battle of Panipat had long-term effects on Indian history. And this is what makes it one of the most important battle in the history of India.


Saturday, 12 March 2016

'Mallya's and Banks

On 2nd March, Vijay Mallya left the country and all hell broke loose. What happened exactly? Why did it happen? Why is there so much fuss about it? What should we know?

What happened?
Vijay Mallya had borrowed over Rs.7000 crore from the banks. But he had left the country without paying a single rupee out of that. In simple terms, banks have been robbed of Rs.7000 crore by a single man.

Why happened?
The source of revenue for the banks is its loans (if they are repaid). So banks try to give as much loan as possible. But before giving loans, they make sure that borrower can repay the loan or if he cannot repay the loan, then he has enough assets(mortgage) from which loan amount can be recovered. For a commonn man, banks have stringent rules for lending the money as well as recovering. But their chief cash cow is big borrowers (businessmen like Mallya) because they borrow more and in turn repay a huge sum as interest. The only caveat here is they don't always have enough mortgage at the time of taking a loan. Banks envisage that his business will ultimately be profitable and banks will get their money back. In fact, banks try to pursue such big borrowers. But what if the business goes into a loss?

This is what happened. Kingfisher Airlines, which was setup in 2003, had been consistently reporting loss since 2009. In 2011, it had already accumulated a debt of around Rs.6500 crore. And still some banks lent money to already bankrupted the company. The worst part is that many of these banks were state-owned banks, where common people invest their earnings with a full trust. In the end, it was crystal clear that Mallya can't pay back the loans and so banks demanded to arrest him. But even before that, Mallya flew out of India.

Why is there so much fuss?
Mallya is one such example. In fact, Indian banks are in bad shapes because of a large number of such bad loans. Governor of RBI has already warned banks to recover these bad loans. If banks can't recover the loans, then it will create a situation similar to the great depression of 2008.

Why bad loans are offered?
We have already discussed the one reason that banks want to earn a profit. Sometimes the business doesn't work out and loans become bad loans. But other reasons are worrisome. Sometimes there is  political pressure on the banks to offer the loan even against their will. Whereas sometimes it is because of corrupt bank officials. Even though bank official know that the loan will turn out to be the bad one, he grants such loan in exchange for the bribe.

What should we know?
From where do banks get money to lend? It is the money we invest in banks to earn small interest on our modest income. So effectively we lend money to these businessmen. In simple terms, Mallya has robbed us of Rs.7000 crore.

Here is a Kingfisher Airlines crisis timeline:

Sunday, 6 March 2016

JNU Row: Who achieved What

It all started on 9th Feb when the entire nation started talking about anti-national activities .(Nation wanted to know!) The ruling party went out of the way to arrest the student leader Kanhaiya Kumar on the basis of poor evidence. Much water has flowed under the bridge till 2nd March when Kanhaiya Kumar delivered a brilliant speech on his home-ground displaying his eloquence. After all this, we need to discuss who achieved what?

There were three major teams playing this game. Ruling party, media and leftists. Let us start with the ruling party.

Ruling party might have envisaged becoming a sole patriotic party, riding on the sentiments of Indian citizens. Union ministers intervened in campus matters and brought the campus level issue to a national level. Later it turned out that some videos were doctored and BJP went backfoot. Meanwhile, lawyers went out of their way to beat Kanhaiya and entitled him to the sympathy. Overall, BJP didn't achieve much, if not lost anything.

Next team was the 'media'. While some started blabbering about nationalism and patriotism, some started acting like the sole guardian of democracy and freedom. Both sides gained significant TRP. So they certainly achieved what they desired.

Let us now discuss the third team. Leftists! We call them leftists because Kanhaiya is AISF (CPI students wing) and most of their players were left-leaning, if not commies. When the game began, they also started pushing their case strongly. They played all their cards (of being pro-poor, pro-equality and everything that sounds good to hear) perfectly. They turned the tide, which originated on 9th Feb. They came out victorious when Kanhaiya was released on interim bail for six months. Kanhaiya came to the campus as a triumphant and delivered a speech for post-match ceremony. He went on to tell back to back stories as part of his experiences. (We have to agree that he is a good orator and a story-teller too) He didn't miss the opportunity to strike back and took on the ruling party. And the most important thing was that all this was fully covered the media. Within a month, most of people in India not only know Kanhaiya, but also discussing him. (We too doing the same here.) That is exactly what needed for starting the political career.

Congratulations Kanhaiya! You have got a perfect start. 

Yes! It is Kanhaiya and his team who have achieved the most out of this game.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Gandhi after Independence

We know the contribution of Gandhiji in Indian independence struggle, but we know little about his work after the independence.

When people were celebrating the hard-earned independence, the protagonist of the struggle was busy in dealing with riots spread in eastern parts of India(Bengal). The 77-year-old man walked in difficult terrain through slush and stone. He walked 117 miles, mostly barefoot. He decided simply to fast and pray on 15th August 1947. On 31st August, there were reports of fresh rioting in Bengal which commenced after a Hindu youth was attacked by Muslims commencing retaliatory violence. On 2nd September, Gandhi went on fast-unto-death. Next day, all rioters laid down their arms.

On 7th September, he left for Delhi hoping to proceed further to Punjab for silencing the riots. However, he contemplated that to make the Muslims undo the wrong in Punjab, he should first secure justice for the Muslims in Delhi. On 13th January, Gandhiji began one more fast addressing three different sections. First were the people of India to bring the peace at earliest. The second section was the government of Pakistan, asking them to put a stop to the driving out of minorities. Third and the most controversial section was the government of India. They had withheld part of the Pakistan's share of the 'Sterling balance' due to their invasion of Kashmir. Gandhiji found it unnecessarily spiteful and asked for the transfer of money. On 15th Jan, the Indian government decided to release the remaining amount to Pakistan. Gandhiji's health was rapidly declining. On 18th, he was satisfied enough, by the unity in Delhi, to end his fast.

However, his final fast was controversial and made some Indians hostile towards him. On 20th Jan, a Punjabi refugee threw a bomb at Gandhiji in Birla House. Luckily he was saved. Unfortunately, he couldn't survive the second attempt of assassination. On 30th Jan 1948, he was shot dead by a young man at his daily prayer meeting.

Salute to one of the greatest freedom fighter and the sage who gifted a precious weapon of non-violence!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Why 26th Jan

We all know why 26 January is celebrated as republic day. Because India adopted Consitution on 26th Jan 1950. But very few of us know why 26 Jan was specifically selected to adopt the constitution.

26 January has a significance in the Indian freedom struggle. The Purna Swaraj declaration, or Declaration of the Independence of India, was promulgated by the Indian National Congress on 26 January 1930, resolving the Congress and Indian nationalists to fight for Purna Swaraj, or complete self-rule independent of the British Empire. Every year after 1930, Congress-minded Indians celebrated 26 January as Independence Day.

In fact, Indian nationalists wanted 26 January 1948 to be the date of independence. But Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, chose 15th August 1947 to be a date to hand over the power. This date was selected as it was the second anniversary of the Japanese surrender to the Allied forces in the World War-II. To compensate this the interim government selected 26th January 1950 to be the date on which Constitution of India came into force.

Happy Republic Day!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

One Step Closer to Indian GPS

With the advent of smartphones GPS (Global Positioning System) is something that most of the people are aware of. Maps and many more services in your smartphones accurately determine your current position and guide you using the GPS service. But what many people are unaware of is that this GPS service is provided by U.S. That is you are always at a mercy of U.S. to use your smartphone smartly.

With the launch of IRNSS-1E, India is now one step closer to activate its own indigenously Navigation Satellite System that will be used to provide accurate real-time positioning and timing services over India and regions extending to 1500 km around India.

What is IRNSS:
It stands for Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. It is developed by ISRO with expected cost of expected to be Rs.1420 crore. Fully deployed IRNSS consists of 3 satellites in GEO orbit and 4 satellites in GSO orbit, approximately 36,000 km above the earth surface. The constellation of 7 satellites is expected to operate from 2016 onwards. Out of these 7 satellites, 5 are already launched and next two launches are scheduled in Feb and March 2016. After activating the IRNSS, India will be in the elite group having its own navigation system.

Why India need IRNSS:
The question can be asked why India needs IRNSS when there is GPS service already operational. The reason is that India cannot rely on services controlled by foreign powers as they are not guaranteed in hostile situations. And India had already witnessed such situation in the past during Kargil war, when U.S. denied to provide locations of invading militants to the Indian military. This compelled India to build its own navigation system and ISRO accepted the challenge.

And today India is few months away from using its own positioning system which is something she will be really proud of.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Struggling China And The World

This year started with a 'Black Monday'. There was a huge dip in a stock exchange index(Sensex as well as NSE). This was accompanied with a depreciation of rupee by 0.47 (which is too much for a day). It is speculated that investors lost a huge sum of rupees 150 billion. In fact, throughout the last year, the world has witnessed multiple Black Mondays. These facts compelled us to discuss the antagonist of this tragedy: Economic Crisis in China.

From 1949 to 1978, China had Soviet-style centrally planned economy. China was experiencing an economic downturn, until the time its new president Deng Xiaoping began the economic reforms. China started economic liberalization in 1978 and moved towards market-oriented mixed economy under one-party rule. Its model was similar to that of Japan and South Korea. Like Japan and S. Korea, for nearly 30 years China has been growing at an average rate of 10%, thrusting its goods across the world. The growth of China was unprecedented in both duration and scale. It became the world's second largest economy by nominal GDP and largest economy by purchasing power parity(PPP) according to IMF. China accounts for 17% of global economic activity. As the second biggest economy in the world, its has the huge impact on global economy. This implies slowing down of China will slow down the world.

The growing streak of the Chinese economy was finally slowed down in 2015. The world was alarmed on 24th August when Shanghai main share index lost 8.49% of its value in a single day. Repercussions were seen in India's stock market as well as stock markets all over the world. As a result, billions of pounds were lost on international stock markets. Even media in China called it 'Black Monday'. It was followed by 'Black Tuesday', losing more than 7% again.

In the 1980s, China established 'special economic zones' to attract foreign investment. This allowed the influx of foreign investments into China helping its industrialization and reformed the export based economy. Growing economy and growing foreign investment kept increasing the stock exchange index. With government controlled media, China encouraged its people to invest in stock market. Many Chinese families borrowed their money to buy shares, hoping that share prices will eventually grow in value. As millions of investors started investing borrowed money into the stock market, share prices were pushed to inflated values. (This is similar to how subprime lending in the USA led to housing bubble in 2007-8)

Chinese government realized that allowing people to buy shares with borrowed money is a bad idea. They put the ban on purchasing shares with borrowed money. In the panic, investors sold off their stocks to pay back the money they had borrowed. Mass selling of shares plunged the share prices to even lower. The equivalent of $3 trillion was lost as a result of the drop in share prices.

As no external index for China's growth is available (figures published by Government is the only source), their stock market index signifies their economy. When stock index went down, even foreign investors pull out their money creating the situation even worse. The economy is also driven by psychology. When investors fear that market is going down, they pull out their investment and the market really goes down. When the economy of China slows down, investors fear of the global slow down and pull out investment from other countries also. So investors fear that Indian economy will also go down and start selling their shares in Indian stock market. This resulted in the dip in Indian stock exchange index on 'Black Monday and Tuesday'.

Only 1.5% Chinese shares belong to foreigners, but still their stock market crashes are affecting the financial markets in the UK, Europe, and the USA.

In 2015, the growth rate of China dropped down to 7.1% from 10% and was surpassed by India with a growth rate of 7.5%. These figures ratified the slowing down of China's economy. In July of 2015, China had imposed a restriction on selling the shares. These restrictions were until the end of 2015. As 2016 started, skeptical share-holders sold out their shares which decreased the stock market index by 7% withing two hours after which transaction was stopped. First Monday of 2016 became the 'Black Monday'. And this, of course, forced Indian stock market index to go down.

Today, economies of all nations are inter-dependent and when one economy starts sinking, it carries the entire world to the bottom.