November 30, 2020

Indian Culture GS-1

Trilok Singh
 History of The world:- History of the World is a sub-part of UPSC Civil Services (Main) Examination’s General Studies Paper-I on Indian Heritage, History and Geography of the World. Under this sub-part, the broad areas which have been covered as per the UPSC Syllabus are: Important events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.

UPSC always plays a mystery game leaving a lot of things ambiguous which is amply reflected in the introductory revised syllabus of World History. Thus, though the syllabus only outlines events from 18th century and does not talk of either the French Revolution or of German and Italian Unification nor of the Russian Revolution or of Nazism or Fascist State or of Cold War of the recent times, but they are equally important from the examination perspective of Modern World History. A glimpse of few of the important topics has been laid down below.

The transformation of industry and the economy in Britain between the 1780s and the 1850s is called the ‘industrial revolution’. This had far-reaching effects in Britain. Later, similar changes occurred in European countries and in the USA. These were to have a major impact on the society and economy of those countries and also on the rest of the world.

The industrial development in Britain is strongly associated with new machinery and technologies. These made it possible to produce goods on a massive scale compared to handicraft and handloom industries.  Industrialization led to greater prosperity for some, but in the initial stages it was linked with poor living and working conditions of millions of people, including women and children. This sparked off protests, which forced the government to enact laws for regulating conditions of work. But the Industrial Revolution and the huge wealth it created was unstoppable. A revolution started in Britain and powered by coal changed the world forever. Britain’s significance for world history rests on three elements: The Industrial Revolution, along with the imperial power and the development of political liberties which helped bring it about.

The American Revolution (1775-83) is also known as the American Revolutionary War and the U.S. War of Independence. The conflict arose from growing tensions between residents of Great Britain’s 13 North American colonies and the colonial government, which represented the British crown. Skirmishes between British troops and colonial militiamen in Lexington and Concord in April 1775 kicked off the armed conflict, and by the following summer, the rebels were waging a full-scale war for their independence. France entered the American Revolution on the side of the colonists in 1778, turning what had essentially been a civil war into an international conflict. After French assistance helped the Continental Army force the British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1779, the Americans had effectively won their independence, though fighting would not formally end until 1783.

A watershed event in modern world history, the French Revolution began in 1789 and ended in the late 1790s with the ascent of  Napolean Bonaparte. During this period, French citizens razed and redesigned their country’s political landscape, uprooting centuries old institutions such as absolute monarchy and the feudal system. Like the American Revolution before it, the French Revolution was influenced by Enlightenment ideals, particularly the concepts of popular sovereignty and inalienable rights. Although it failed to achieve all of its goals and at times degenerated into a chaotic bloodbath, the movement played a critical role in shaping modern nations by showing the world the power inherent in the will of the people.

The political philosophies as outlined by UPSC includes those of Capitalism, Socialism and Communism. Capitalism is the economic and social system (and also the mode of production) in which the means of production are predominantly privately owned and operated for profit, and distribution and exchange is in a mainly market economy. It is usually considered to involve the right of individuals and corporations to trade (using money) in goods, services, labour and land.

Some form of Capitalism has been dominant in the Western world since the end of feudalism in the Middle Ages, and has provided the main, although not exclusive, means of industrialization throughout much of the world. Its rise to prominence sprang out of the mercantilism of the 16th to the 18th Centuries, and followed the rise of Liberalism and laissez-faire economics in western society. The capitalist mode of production, however, may exist within societies with differing state systems (e.g. liberal democracy, fascism) and different social structures.

Socialism is a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the workers, either directly through popular collectives such as workers’ councils, or indirectly exercised on behalf of the people by the state, and in which Egalitarianism or equality is an important goal. Thus, under Socialism, the means of production are owned by the state, community or the workers (as opposed to privately owned as under Capitalism).

Moving on to Communism, in modern usage, the term is applied to the movement that aims to overthrow the capitalist order by revolutionary means and to establish a classless society in which all goods will be socially owned. The theories of the movement come from Karl Marx, as modified by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, leader of the successful Communist revolution in Russia. Communism, in this sense, is to be distinguished from socialism, which (as the term is commonly understood) seeks similar ends but by evolution rather than revolution.

Colonialism is a political-economic phenomenon whereby various nations explored, conquered, settled, and exploited large areas of the world. The age of modern colonialism began about 1500, following the European discoveries of a sea route around Africa’s southern coast (1488) and of America (1492). With these events sea power shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and to the emerging nation-states of Portugal, Spain, the Dutch Republic, France, and England. By discovery, conquest, and settlement, these nations expanded and colonized throughout the world, spreading European institutions and culture. Colonialism has now come to be identified with rule over peoples of different race inhabiting lands separated by salt water from the imperial center; more particularly, it signifies direct political control by European states or states settled by Europeans, as the United States or Australia, over peoples of other races, notably over Asians and Africans. To this category should be added Japan’s rule over her dependent territories, lost after World War II. Some further features of the “colonial situation” are: domination of an alien minority, asserting racial and cultural superiority, over a materially inferior native majority; contact between a machine-oriented civilization with Christian origins, a powerful economy, and a rapid rhythm of life and a non-Christian civilization that lacks machines and is marked by a backward economy and a slow rhythm of life; and the imposition of the first civilization upon the second.

World War-1 was the first mass global war of the industrialized age, a demonstration of the prodigious strength, resilience and killing power of modern states. The war was also fought at a high point of patriotism and belief in the existing social hierarchy; beliefs that the war itself helped destroy, and that the modern world finds very hard to understand.

World War-II was the most devastating war witnessed by the world, which was global in all its respects as the conflagration was not confined to Europe alone, but engulfed the entire world. It took place between 1939 – 1945. It involved most of the world’s major countries divided into two opposing forces: the Allies and the Axis. Engagements were fought in the Pacific, in the jungles of South-East Asia, in the plains of Russia and in the deserts of Africa, in addition to Europe. In total, more than 100 million military personnel were mobilized during the war.

While the Cold War was an outcome of the emergence of the US and the USSR as two superpowers rival to each other, it was also rooted in the understanding that the destruction caused by the use of atom bombs is too costly for any country to bear. The logic is simple yet powerful. When two rival powers are in possession of nuclear weapons capable of inflicting death and destruction unacceptable to each other, a full-fledged war is unlikely. In spite of provocations, neither side would want to risk war since no political gains would justify the destruction of their societies.

In the event of a nuclear war, both sides will be so badly harmed that it will be impossible to declare one side or the other as the winner. Even if one of them tries to attack and disable the nuclear weapons of its rival, the other would still be left with enough nuclear weapons to inflict unacceptable destruction. This is called the logic of ‘deterrence’: both sides have the capacity to retaliate against an attack and to cause so much destruction that neither can afford to initiate war. Thus, the Cold War — in spite of being an intense form of rivalry between great powers — remained a ‘cold’ and not hot or shooting war. The deterrence relationship prevents war but not the rivalry between powers. Note the main military features of the Cold War. The two superpowers and the countries in the rival blocs led by the superpowers were expected to behave as rational and responsible actors. They were to be rational and responsible in the sense that they understood the risks in fighting wars that might involve the two superpowers.


“Bronze sculptures may be Michelangelo’s” statues of muscular men riding panthers, each a metre high and whose attribution has long been a matter of conjecture, are now thought to be the only surviving bronzes of Michelangelo.

Who was Michelangelo? Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer of the High Renaissance who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. Considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, he has since been held as one of the greatest artists of all time. Despite making few forays beyond the arts, his versatility in the disciplines he took up was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his fellow Italian Leonardo da Vinci.

·         The statues of two men, each holding an arm aloft in a gesture of salute, were attributed to the 16th-century Italian Renaissance artist based in part on a tiny detail from one of his student’s drawings, the Fitzwilliam, which is the museum of Cambridge University, said.

·         The bronzes, which have spent over a century in relative obscurity, are now thought to be early works by Michelangelo, the museum said, made just after he completed his marble David as he was about to embark on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

·         Michelangelo was known to have worked in bronze, but other exemplars were lost or destroyed, the museum said.

Read more in the Hindu newspaper dated 03 Feb pg 07

Importance:- GS Paper-I (Main Examination)- History and Culture

 surviving copies of Magna Carta reunited   

The four surviving copies of the 1215 Magna Carta have been brought together for the first time here as part of celebrations to mark its 800th anniversary…

·         One of the most important documents in history, Magna Carta is considered one of the first steps towards parliamentary democracy and includes the principle that no one is above the law, including the king.

What is Magna Carta? Also called Magna Carta Libertatum, is a charter agreed by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15 June 1215. First drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to make peace between the unpopular King and a group of rebel barons, it promised the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, and limitations on feudal payments to the Crown, to be implemented through a council of 25 barons. The charter became part of English political life and was typically renewed by each monarch in turn.

·         After three days, the documents will be taken to the House of Lords for a day before two are returned to the British Library and the others taken back to Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedrals where they are kept.

·         It is believed that about 250 copies of the document were originally created and sent to legal and religious officials across the country to make sure it was carried out.

Read more in the Hindu newspaper dated 02 Feb pg 07
Importance :-GS Paper-I (Main Examination)- History and Culture

Turing’s notebook goes to auction reunited   

A handwritten notebook by Alan Turing, the World War II code-breaking genius depicted by Benedict Cumberbatch in the Oscar-nominated “The Imitation Game,” is going on the auction block…

Who was Alan Turing? Alan Mathison Turing, (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was a British pioneering computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, mathematical biologist, and marathon and ultra distance runner. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of “algorithm” and “computation” with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer.Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.

During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre. For a time he led Hut 8, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including improvements to the pre-war Polish bombe method, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine. Turing’s pivotal role in cracking intercepted coded messages enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic; it has been estimated that the work at Bletchley Park shortened the war in Europe by as many as two to four years.

·         The 56-page manuscript was written at the time the British mathematician and computer science pioneer was working to break the seemingly unbreakable Enigma codes used by the Germans throughout World War II. It is being sold by Bonhams in New York on April 13. It is expected to bring at least $1 million.

·         The notebook contains Turing’s complex mathematical and computer science notations. It is believed to be the only extensive Turing manuscript known to exist, the auctioneer said.

·         It dates from 1942, when Turing was trying to break the seemingly unbreakable code with his team of cryptanalysts at Britain’s World War II code and cypher school Bletchley Park.

Read more in the Hindu newspaper dated 22 Jan pg 14
Importance :- GS Paper-I (Main Examination)- History and Culture

 Excavation at Harappan site revels house plan on the Ganga-Yamuna doabRemains of skeleton, animal bones indicate funeral ceremony at late-Harappan site.

·         Excavation conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at the late-Harappan site of Chandayan in Uttar Pradesh has, for the first time, revealed the plan of a house on the Ganga-Yamuna doab, with its mud walls, four successive floor levels and post-holes.

What is Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)? The Archaeological Survey of India is an Indian government agency in the Department of Culture that is responsible for archaeological studies and the preservation of cultural monuments. According to its website, the ASI’s function is to “explore, excavate, conserve, preserve and protect the monuments and sites of National & International Importance.”

What is Harappan Culture? The Indus Valley Civilization (also known as the Harappan culture) has its earliest roots in cultures such as that of Mehrgarh, approximately 6000 BCE. The two greatest cities, Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, emerged circa 2600 BCE along the Indus River valley in Punjab and Sindh. The civilization, with a writing system, urban centers, and diversified social and economic system, was rediscovered in the 1920s after excavations at Mohenjo-daro in Sindh near Larkana, and Harappa, in west Punjab south of Lahore.

Late Harappan Phase: The signs of a gradual decline of the Indus River Valley Civilization are believed to have started around 1800 BC. By 1700 BC, most of the cities were abandoned. However, one can see the various element of the Ancient Indus Valley Civilization in later cultures. Archaeological data indicates the persistence of the Late Harappan culture till 1000-900 BC.

·         The excavation in the residential area revealed a mud wall and post-holes in one trench and four closely laid and successive floors of a house in another trench and pots. They were found at a depth of 130 cm and upwards from the surface level. The posts positioned in the holes would have supported the roof of the house. “The habitation area is significant for the floor levels, and mud walls were occurring in the Ganga-Yamuna doab for the first time.

·         In the burial site, 150 metres from the residential area, excavations brought to light 21 pots, including deep bowls, dishes, flasks and lids with knobs and cylindrical agate beads. Nearby were the skeleton’s femur and pelvis. These, along with a broken copper crown, were found by labourers digging for clay. The copper crown was embedded with carnelian and faience beads. The orientation of the burial site was from northwest to southeast.

Read more in the Hindu newspaper dated 05 Jan pg 07
Importance :-GS Paper-I (Main Examination) – History and culture

 Here’s a film festival on waste reunited  

As Bengaluru and Pune — the country’s IT hubs — lurch from one garbage crisis to another, a unique film festival hopes to confront audiences with the entrenched civilian apathy and offer much food for thought in the process.

·         The ninth edition of the Kirloskar Vasundhara International Film Festival (VKIFF) — India’s only such film event dedicated to critically analysing environmental issues — will commence here on January 16 with a topical theme ‘Zero Waste: Begins with Us.’

·         The opening film The Carbon Rush (2012), directed by Canadian Amy Miller, proffers a visceral look at the debilitating impact of carbon trading on indigenous peoples across four continents while graphically dissecting the Kyoto protocol.

·         Particularly germane to garbage woes plaguing Pune and Bengaluru are documentary shorts like Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; Masters of Waste; and No Man’s Land which depict the leavings of the Indian society and its impact on those who struggle to clear them.

Read more in the Hindu newspaper dated 15 Jan pg 20
Importance :-GS Paper-I (Main Examination)- History and Culture

 A Christmas present for Darjeeling tourists reunited:-    

Toy train to be operational along 87-km stretch

·         The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) has a Christmas present for tourists this holiday season. After running truncated services for four years, the Darjeeling toy train will chug through its full route again from December 25.

·         The DHR, which enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status, was truncated in June 2010 following massive landslides along its 87-km route from Siliguri to Darjeeling. The train began services in 1881, when Sir Ashley Eden was the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal.

What is DHR? The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the “Toy Train”, is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal, India operational since 1881.

What is UNESCO World Heritage Site?  A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, island, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of special cultural or physical significance (see list of World Heritage Sites). The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

Read more in the Hindu newspaper dated 23 Dec pg 07
Importance :- GS Paper-I (Main Examination)- Culture

Gonds may have migrated from Indus Valley reunited:-    

“On the goddess Kotamma temple woollen market way there is a rocky roof shelter for shepherds and sheep to stay at night up to morning.” This innocuous sounding statement could actually be a revolutionary find linking the adivasi Gond tribe to the Indus Valley civilisation, which flourished between 2500 B.C. and 1750 BC.

·         The sentence emerged after a set of 19 pictographs from a cave in Hampi were deciphered using root morphemes of Gondi language, considered by many eminent linguists as a proto Dravidian language.

·         If the discovery stands the scrutiny of experts in the field, it would mean that the Gonds living in central and southern India could have migrated from the Indus Valley civilisation.

What is Indus Valley Civilization? The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 (BCE) extending from what today is northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India. Along with Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia it was one of three early civilizations of the Old World, and of the three the most widespread. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River, one of the major rivers of Asia, and the now dried up Sarasvati River, which once coursed through northwest India and eastern Pakistan together with its tributaries flowed along a channel, presently identified as that of the Ghaggar-Hakra River on the basis of various scientific studies.

Who are Gonds? The Gondi (Gōndi) or Gond people are a Dravidian people of central India, spread over the states of Madhya Pradesh, eastern Maharashtra (Vidarbha), Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Western Odisha. With over four million people, they are the largest tribe in Central India.

Read more in the Hindu newspaper dated 17 Dec pg 07
Importance :-  GS Paper-I (Main Examination)- History and Culture


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