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August 2016

Conserving the Medicinal plants

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Author : Ratnadeep Banerji

One-sixth of Indian plants have medicinal attributes but the threat of extinction looms large. The anti-fatigue property of Trichopus zeylanicus traditionally used by Kani tribes of Western Ghats in Kerala is an accepted fact discovered per chance by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research team during a forest expedition. Plant-derived compounds hold source of several clinically useful anti-cancer agents like vinblastine, vincristine and the chemical paclitaxel. Taking cognizance of healing properties of plants, this year AYUSH Ministry of the Government of India and the Department of Health & Human Services of the Government of USA along with National Institute of Health (US) and National Cancer Institute (US) conducted a workshop on fighting cancer with traditional medicine.

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India has over 50,000 herbal formulations attributed under traditional knowledge falling under the ambit of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Tibetan medicine and folk tradition. 960 medicinal aromatic plants are used by the contemporary trade and Ayurvedic industry and 178 species of them are consumed in volumes exceeding 100 metric tonnes per year and these constitute about 80% of the total industrial demand of all botanicals in the country. This dire need for medicines leads to rampant and over cultivation of plant parts leading to rare, endangered, critical and extinct state. It has been estimated by World Health Organization, WHO that 70 to 80 percent people worldwide resort to traditional, largely herbal medicine to meet their primary health-care needs. The global market potential is pegged at US$ 62 million but sadly India has less than 0.5% share. However, after China, India is the largest exporter of medicinal plants and herbal products. This is a result of export without proper certification that fetches low returns.

The Indian chapter of World Wildlife Fund TRAFFIC has deliberated over standards and certification schemes in medicinal and aromatic plants in India. tea_leaves

India has about 45,000 plant species and over a sixth of them standing at 7,333 are medicinal aromatic plants. But only 15% of medicinal plants are cultivated while the remaining 85% are collected by the industry from forest ecosystems and other natural habitats. Dr S K Niraj, spearheading TRAFFIC is apprehensive of the glaring threat of mass extinction of 3000 medicinal plants of India in the face of escalating commercial demand.

Dr M K Sarkar, former Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Tamil Nadu Forest Department has been working on bio-governance for endemic and threatened plants in India. According to Dr Sarkar In the last 10 years, several Indian plants have gone extinct.  It is estimated that more than 1200 plants that are exclusively found in India suffer from various degrees of threats. Again, 3471 species found in the Himalayas, 2015 species found in Peninsular India and 239 species in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are under serious threats of extinction.’  The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 states that the Central Government is empowered to notify any species as threatened and make regulation on it. Forests being in the concurrent list, the central government can only give guidelines to the state. The state government has to make the implementation of their policies.

Dr. Sarkar corroborates, ‘Only 6 medicinal plants are covered under Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and remains so even after 44 years, till date. Wildlife Protection Act is stringent enough to protect animal species but covers only 6 plants. Forest Conservation Act of 1980 and 1988 harps only on habitat protection. Instead of negative listing and putting a ban on the use of these medicinal plants, they should be grown more and more. Banning leads to discouragement in the industry and less production and it gets more endangered owing to more illegal trade that can’t be stopped.’

‘70% of the medicinal plants are harvested in destructive way.’ asserts M.K.Ranjeet Singh, former forest secretary with Madhya Pradesh and also instrumental in framing of the India Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Good Agricultural and Collection Practices for Medicinal Plants (GACP) are a set of guidelines developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) aimed at improving the quality of medicinal plant material being used in the herbal medicines in the market. Dr S K Niraj, cautions, ‘If medicinal plants are not cultivated in a suitable environment, if they are harvested at the wrong time of the year or if they are processed incorrectly, the potency of the medical properties may be reduced, leading to the manufacture of ineffective herbal medicines’. Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Field Collection Practices (GFCP) lay down the main principles that should be followed by farmers and collectors to ensure they are producing medicinal plant materials with maximum levels of active ingredients.

Tribal population can derive thriving income from the cultivation of medicinal plants done on scientific lines to enable storage. The government has been offering them minimum support price to ensure tribal population to feel safe. S.S. Maity, deputy general manager with Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd, under Ministry of Tribal Affairs says, ‘Around 35% of the income of tribal comes from medicinal plants. We have been teaching them ways of storage and processing into various items on scientific lines. TRIFED have been offering them minimum support price for 12 products.’

Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO with World Wildlife Federation, India points out, ‘India has just 22 certified medicinal plants whereas China has 200. I’ve spoken to people in Panna and Bundelkhand.  They are unable to export medicinal plants owing to absence of certification.’ All medicinal plants exclusively found in India are teetering on extinction in the coming years if stringent contingency plan doesn’t get implemented.

The National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) under Ministry of AYUSH is implementing Central Sector Scheme, conservation of medicinal plants carried out mainly through in-situ conservation by way of plantation augmentation of species in their natural habitat and establishing Medicinal Plants Conservation and Development Areas (MPCDAs) through ex-situ conservation by developing herbal gardens.maxresdefault-1

*The Author is a senior journalist and a radio documentary maker.

Some critically endangered species found only in India-

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Red sanders is highly endemic to Andhra Pradesh and extreme north areas of Tamil Nadu. Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar purchased 706 metric tonnes of red sanders wood in a single government auction held last year.   [Pic credit: Rawa Medherbs]

Picture 2.

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Critically endangered Beddome’s cycas is endemic to Andhra Pradesh only is highly sought for Ayurvedic medicine.    [Pic credit: Dr ABD Selvam, Botanical Survey of India]

Picture 3.

The Himalayan Yew occurs only in North East India, sought for Ayurveda and Tibetan medicine.   [Pic credit: Dr ABD Selvam, Botanical Survey of India]

Picture 4.

Botanical Garden cum Recreational Park at Salaulim, Goa bordering Karnataka is located at the foothills of the Western Ghats along with the Salaulim Dam. It is flanked by Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary. This eco-trail of 33 kms from Madgaon is worth passes through idyllic hamlets and forests with excellent road conditions and very thin traffic. A full-fledged medicinal garden is coming up here.   [Pic credit for 4 & 5: R. Banerji]

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Improving the quality of School Education

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Author : Dr. Subhash C. Khuntia

The 21st Century global economy can thrive in an environment that has focus on skills around creativity and imagination, critical thinking and problem solving. Empirical analysis reveals a strong positive relationship between education and economic growth. India has a large population of 30.5 crore (Census 2011), in the school going age of 6-18, which is more than 25% of the total population. India has the full potential to use this demographic dividend to its advantage if the children can be imparted education that prepares them to face the real world with confidence.

With the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 2030 the focus now has shifted to Quality with Equity up to the Secondary level of Education.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, some months back, in one of his addresses through Mann Ki Baat emphasized the importance of quality in the following words: “So far, the government’s focus was on spreading education across the country. But the time has now come to shift the focus on quality education. Now, the government should emphasise more on learning rather than schooling,”

HRD Minister Shri Prakash Javedkar also announced that “Raising the quality of education in the country will be the top priority”. This shift from schooling to learning would mean a shift in focus from inputs to outcomes.

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Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), a Centrally Sponsored Scheme implemented by Government of India in partnership with State Governments, has achieved considerable success in universalising elementary education. Today, there are 19.67 crore children enrolled in 14.5 lakh elementary schools in the country. The dropout rate has reduced considerably, but is still high at 16% at primary and 32% at upper primary level, and needs to be reduced significantly. As per a survey, the number of out of school children has declined from 135 lakh in 2005 to 61 lakh children in 2014, all efforts must be made to bring the last child back to school.

As is evident, India has done well in terms of ensuring access and equity in schooling. However, the level of learning by the average student is a matter of concern. As per the recent report of the National Achievement Survey (NAS) for class 5 students, the percentage of students getting more than half the questions correct is only 36% for reading comprehension and the corresponding figures for mathematics and environmental studies are 37% and 46% respectively.

Both the Centre and the State Governments are devising comprehensive approaches and strategies to address the issue of improving quality of education in schools. Some of the key focus areas include working on issues related to Teachers, Classroom processes, Assessments and Evaluations of student’s learning, School Infrastructure, School Effectiveness and Community participation.

1.Teachers

While children are at the centre of school education, it is the teacher who plays the most critical role in ensuring learning among children. Since inception of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan 19.48 lakh additional teacher posts have been created for elementary classes; appointment of teachers against these posts has resulted in improving the pupil teacher ratio from 42:1 to 24:1. However, there are still schools having single teachers or inadequate number of teachers. For this State governments need to redeploy teachers for equitable distribution and also have an annual schedule of recruitment of qualified teachers, so as to replace the retiring teachers.

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Presently 85% of regular teachers in government schools are professionally qualified. In 20 States and UTs, all teachers have the requisite qualifications.  Government is taking steps to ensure that over the next 2-3 years all teachers in the remaining 16 States/UTs would be fully qualified.

As per the findings of a study done in 2013 by the Ministry, the average teacher attendance was found to be around 83%.  This needs to be improved to close to 100%.

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Need based professional development of teachers working in schools is being taken up under both Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan schemes. Online programmes are also on the anvil to supplement the efforts.

The school system needs to attract bright students to the teaching profession, 4-year integrated B.A B.Ed and B.Sc B.Ed teacher programmes have been introduced by the National Council of Teacher Education and these programmes need to be popularized to catch the attention of those who are genuinely interested in nation building through a quality schooling system.

2.Classroom Processes

These have the strongest association with learning achievement of children, and include classroom management, effective student teacher interactions, and quality of instruction; structured teaching and nature of activities focussing on learning. Ensuring regular attendance of students as well as teachers in the classroom is a pre-condition for the same. The model for improving learning outcomes needs to focus on clearly bench marking expected learning outcomes for every class and every subject, easily understandable by teachers, school heads and widely disseminated among parents and community; ICT enabled teaching and learning.ict

Recognizing the need for a strong foundation for learning the Government launched Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat in 2014, with a framework emphasising the importance of learning to read with understanding. In order to build an interest and popularizing learning of Mathematics, Science and Technology this government launched the Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan in 2015.

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Through this initiative schools have an opportunity to be mentored by institutions like the IITs and NITs amongst others.  The recent launch of Atal Innovation Mission  and  Atal Tinkering Lab would give a fillip to critical analysis, creativity and problem solving among students.

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All the Government Secondary schools in the country are being ICT enabled so as to leverage ICT in teaching the children and also for improving IT literacy among them. The National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) and recently launched E-Pathshala are bringing together all digital and digitisable resources across all stages of school education and teacher education.

3. Evaluation and Assessment

Assessing the learning progress of a student is one of the primary roles of a teacher. Regular and continuous assessments of students in the classroom are meant to provide, feedback to the child and parents, feedback to the teacher, remediation for addressing the learning deficit among children. A robust classroom based learning assessment mechanism can ensure that both the teacher and the student are focussed on learning.evaluation

What gets measured can be improved. Along with the classroom based assessment of learning, large scale achievement surveys are needed to look at how students are progressing in their learning as well as how the system is performing as a whole to achieving the goal of education.

Government has initiated a process whereby, every year, children will be assessed through a National Achievement Survey. This will cover students in government schools, government aided schools and private schools. The primary purpose of the survey is to provide schools an opportunity to understand their student’s performance against the bench marked learning goals. Based on the results, schools will develop a school level plan to improve the learning levels. Such a survey will create a positive environment focussed towards improving learning outcomes. The feedback for the teachers and students will be immediate so that they can take timely action to address the learning gaps; track the performance of students over the period of time and provide systemic feedback to curriculum developers, teacher training institutions and educational administrators about the health of educational system. This is essential for educational quality improvement.

4. School Effectiveness

For schools to perform effectively, empowerment of the school head is crucial. Government of India has suggested State Governments to take steps to develop a separate cadre of school headmasters. With a full time head teacher in place capacity building can be done in a targeted manner. In order to nurture the leaders for the schools of tomorrow, the National Centre for School Leadership at NUEPA has developed a training package, which is currently being implemented across the country. Plans are afoot to set up Leadership Academies in States that would be able to meet their State needs.

Schools need to be continuously assessed in various dimensions so that the need for improvement is internalized. Initiatives like Gunotsav in Gujaratgunotsav

Pratibha Parv in Madhya Pradesh,ppmain Sambalan in Rajasthan and Samiksha in Odisha are good examples. Comprehensive school assessment framework called Shala Siddhi has been developed at the national level by NUEPA and launched in November 2016. This has a component of self-assessment and a third party assessment. The self -assessment will be used by schools to develop and implement their improvement plan.

Steps are being taken to have Aadhar enabled data of students and teachers. This would help track children from one class to the next, thereby enabling the system to identify children who drop out; ensuring that all eligible children are receiving the entitlements such as mid-day meal, textbooks, uniforms and scholarships as well as monitoring student and teacher attendance.

5. School Infrastructure

Through the interventions under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhymik Shiksha Abhiyan major strides have been taken in provisioning of school infrastructure. Since inception of SSA, school buildings have been added for 2.23 lakh primary and nearly 4 lakh upper primary schools. States, UTs, Central PSUs and private corporate sector responded to the call of the Prime Minister to have a separate functional toilet for girls and boys in every school.  Under the Swachh Vidyalaya initiative 4.17 lakh toilets have been constructed. Steps are being taken towards ensuring that the toilets are kept clean, functional and well maintained.6565

Today we are looking at schools to be more than just buildings and classrooms. For a school to have basic learning conditions it must have electricity, functional library and reading corners; science labs; computer labs, toilets and LPG connection for cooking of mid-day meal. All States and UTs have been advised to ensure electricity in all Secondary Schools in the current year itself while the remaining schools may be covered within a short time frame.

6. Community Involvement

In such a large and diverse country the key to success is decentralization of decision making and accountability. In case of school education, communities play a vital role in school management through the School Management Committees. So far these committees have been involved in provisioning of inputs like construction of school building etc. Moving ahead the School Management Committees will need to be strengthened to hold the school accountable for their children’s learning. Parents and SMC members will need to be aware of the class wise learning goals; efforts like SMC meetings, social audits or gram sabha meetings on school education would need to assess student learning. In order to ensure that moving forward parents and community members can hold schools accountable for their child’s learning, efforts are on to prepare class wise learning goals in easy to understand language and the plan is to display these in the school and also do a wide dissemination.

On the eve of the passage of the nation to the 70th year of Independence, we must commit ourselves to a positive campaign for improving the quality of school education. This campaign will need the efforts of one and all – government, civil society organisations, experts, parents, community members and children. It is time that a Team India is built around this issue of improving Quality of School Education so as to build a solid foundation for the next generation to enable them to face the 21st Century with confidence.

*Author is Secretary (School Education & Literacy), Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt of India, New Delhi.

Showcases books on the Freedom Struggle at 22nd Delhi Book Fair

Publications Division, a media unit of the Ministry of I&B, is participating in the 22 nd Delhi Book Fair being  held at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi from August 27 – Sep 4, 2016.

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This literary event provides a forum where publishers, authors, booksellers, and book lovers get to interact. The Division has organized a large display cum sale of a variety of titles that highlight India’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, ranging from history, art and culture, land and people, flora and fauna besides children’s literature.

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Special segment on books on the Freedom Struggle: As part of the campaign, ‘Azadi ke 70 Saal , Yaad Karo Kurbani’, Publications Division has a special segment on books relating to Freedom Struggle, of which we have vast collection. Some of the titles are on various aspects of the Freedom Movement and include rare works that highlight the role played by martyrs from different regions of the country, heroes of India’s freedom struggle and Builders of Modern India.

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Biographies of leaders like Birsa Munda, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Bhikaji Cama, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, Hanuman Prasad Poddar and C. F  Andrews form a part of the Publications Division catalogue. Many of these titles are available in Hindi and some in regional languages also.

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Other interesting titles on Freedom Struggle include Tilak ka Mukadama, Remember us Once in a While, San Sattavan Ke Bhule Bisre Shaheed, Azaadi ki Ladai ke Jabtshudha Tarane, Bhule Bisre Krantikari, India’s Struggle for Freedom, and Purvottar ke Swatantantrata Sainani. Publications Division has also brought out a series of three volumes titled Who’s who of Indian Martyrs, which include life sketches of unsung heroes of our motherland, .

Also on sale are volumes of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (100 volumes) which constitute a monumental document of Gandhiji’s words which he spoke and wrote, day after day, year after year, beginning with the year 1884 till his assassination on January 30, 1948. In this series, his writings, scattered all over the world, have been collected and constructed with stringent academic discipline and with an ethical sense of loyalty.

New Releases : Publications Division is be releasing several new titles including Lives that Inspire (Vol. I, II, III), Why People Protest, वृत्तचित्र लेखन एवं फ़िल्म तकनीक, Rani Rudrama Devi (Telugu), Majaz: Shakhs Aur Shair (Urdu).

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Several new books for children will also be part of Publication Division’s display and sale. These include बेताल कथाएं, थोड़ा सा तो हो ना बचपन, Children’s Mahabharatam (Telugu).

eBooks on display: A novelty for visitors to the Publications Division stall is a display of eBooks having all the latest features of digital publishing.

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Publications Division has started bringing out e-versions of its select titles since the past two years. Some of the eBooks which readers can browse through on specially designed kiosks include India 2016, Lauh Purush Sardar Patel, Gandhi:A Patriot in South Africa, Belief in the Ballot, Legends of the Indian Silver Screen, and many more. Publication Division eBooks are available for sale on Play.google.com  and www.kobo.com.

AIR’s Archival DVDs: All India Radio’s archival DVDs also form part of the display and sale organized at the Delhi Book Fair .

A list of Publications Division’s books and journals, available at affordable prices can be accessed in the online catalogue.

Follow us on twitter@DPD_India.

High Speed Travel in Indian Railways

Indian Railways

Indian Railways has played a significant role in the development of India since its inception in 1853. Indian Railways today has the largest passenger operation amongst all Railways in the world carrying over 23 million passengers every day or about seven billion passengers annually which is equivalent to the world’s population. The focus has been to provide a safe and affordable means of transport to the teeming millions.

Indian Railways over the years has taken many steps for modernization and technology upgradation. On the speed front Indian Railways is now running trains like Gatiman Express with maximum speed of 160 kmph.

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Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagging off the Gatiman Express which is the India’s first semi-high speed train with a capabilty of running at a maximum speed of 160 KMPH and runs between H. Nizammuddin to Agra

However the progress on high speed has not been much and most of passenger carrying trains and Goods trains have been running on low average running speed.

 

Countries like Japan, China, France, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, Turkey, South Korea and Spain have developed high-speed rail to connect their major cities. The maximum commercial speed on most of these high-speed rail lines is 250 to 350 kmph. The first such high speed rail system began operations in Japan way back in 1964 and was widely known as the bullet train. China, today, has the world’s longest high-speed rail network.

In view of the Growing economy India too needs to increase the speed of its trains and also cater to the needs of high speed travelling segment. It has therefore started a multi pronged strategy for running of high speed trains (with a speed of 300 kmph +), semi high speed trains (with a speed of 160 kmph + – 200 kmph), running of existing trains with increased speeds and introduction of faster trains and faster train sets.

A high speed train (300 kmph +) has already been sanctioned on Mumbai – Ahmedabad high speed corridor with financial and technical assistance from Government of Japan.

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This train is based on Japanese Shinkansen high speed technology. A company for the implementation of this project with the name “National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited” has already been formed. The implementation of this project has already begun and is now targeted for commissioning in 2023-24. The study for this high speed train popularly referred to as Bullet Train has been done by JICA. Government of Japan is providing financial assistance in the form of loan upto 81% of the project cost at a very nominal interest rate of 0.1% per annum to be repaid in 50 years with a 15 year moratorium.

In addition to Mumbai – Ahmedabad high speed (300 kmph +) corridor, five more corridors on diamond quadrilateral in the country are being explored and Consultants have been appointed to undertake feasibility studies as per details given below : –

S.No

High Speed Corridor

Consultants undertaking feasibility study

1

Delhi-Mumbai

Consortium of M/s.  The Third Railway Survey and Design Institute Group Corporation (Chinese Consultant) and Lahmeyer International (India) Private Limited, India. Interim report 1 received. Interim report 2 expected in November, 2016. Final Report expected in January, 2017.

2

Mumbai-Chennai

Consortium of M/s. SYSTRA (French Consultants), RITES and  Ernst and Young LLP. Interim report 1 received. Interim report 2 expected in November, 2016. Final Report expected in January, 2017.

3

Delhi-Kolkata

Consortium of M/s. INECO – M/s. TYPSA- M/s. Intercontinental Consultants and Technocrats Private Limited (Spanish Consultants). Interim report 1 & 2 received. Final Report expected in January, 2017.

4

Delhi-Nagpur

Government to Government cooperation with Chinese Railway Company. Inception report received.

5

Mumbai-Nagpur

Government to Government cooperation with Spanish Railway companies. Interim report 1 received. Interim report 2 expected in November, 2016. Final Report expected in January, 2017.

Maglev Trains

Indian Railways is also exploring the option of introducing Maglev Trains in India. “MAGLEV “stands for  MAGnetic LEVitation. The MAGLEV floats above the track on a “Cushion” of magnetic field. Magnets on the track push and lift the MAGLEV up in air by about 1 inch to 6 inches. These “track” magnets are controlled by computers which keep shifting  forward the magnetic force of the “track” magnets so that the MAGLEV is pulled forward.

As the train levitates above the rails, the friction between the wheel and the rail is reduced drastically. This aides the trains to achieve very high speeds. Maximum speed achieved by the MAGLEV train is 500 km/h. One commercial installation is in China in Shanghai (appx 38 km of MAGLEV) and is currently running commercially. New technologies are coming up to decrease the power consumption of magnets that lift the MAGLEV by using liquid nitrogen or similar gases.

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Holy Grail of Maglev magnets is superconducting magnets which consume very little current. Currently, superconductive magnets requires very low temperatures to be maintained in the magnet, however rapid research is going on to make high temperature superconductors.

Semi-High Speed Trains

Railways has also taken up a programme of running of semi high speed trains (160 kmph + – 200 kmph) in a big way. It has already started running such a train with the name Gatimaan Express between Hazrat Nizamuddin to Agra Cantt Station w.e.f. 05.04.2016 with a maximum speed of 160 kmph. In addition to this Delhi – Agra semi high speed corridor, Indian Railways have also identified eight more corridors for feasibility of semi high speed rail, Zone wise details are as under:

S.No

Corridor

Zonal Railways

1

Delhi-Chandigarh Northern

2

Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysore

Southern, South Western

3

Delhi-Kanpur

Northern, North Central

4

Nagpur-Bilaspur South East Central
5 Mumbai-Goa

Central, South Western, Konkan Railway

6

Mumbai-Ahmedabad Western
7 Chennai- Hyderabad

Southern, South Central

8 Nagpur – Secunderabad

Central, South Central

Indian Railways is also currently undertaking field trials for assessing savings in transit time by using special type Spanish Talgo Coaches on existing New Delhi-Mumbai corridor. These are faster trains which may run at around 200 kmph.

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The main features of Talgo Coaches are:- Natural tilting leading to higher speed on curves, Independent Axle-less wheels, Lightweight Aluminum body coaches, Disc brake system, Articulated wheels to keep wheel parallel to track, Integrated suspension, Enhanced passenger comfort, Designed for operational speed of 200 kmph.

With a view to increasing speed of existing trains in Indian Railways, ‘Mission Raftaar’ has been announced in the Railway Budget 2016-17.  The mission envisages a target of doubling of average speed of freight trains and increasing the average speed of all non-suburban passenger trains by 25 kilometre per hour (kmph) in next 5 years.  The present level of average speeds in Indian Railways for non-suburban passenger trains is 46.3 kmph and for freight trains the average speeds is 24.2 kmph. In order to implement this, a cross-functional mission directorate has been created in Railway Board.

Action Plan for improving mobility and increasing average speed of trains, inter-alia, includes removal of speed restrictions, construction of road over bridges (ROBs) and road under bridges (RUBs), right powering of trains, introduction of twin-pipe brake system in wagons, and replacement of conventional loco hauled commuter trains by Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) and Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) trains.

Some of the important achievements in mobility improvement in Indian Railways are:

    • Two pairs of trains between Kanpur-Allahabad section, and one pair of MEMU train  between Asansol-Dhanbad section in place of conventional loco hauled passenger trains have  already been introduced.
    • Two more pairs of trains have been scheduled for switch over to MEMU in Allahabad-Mughalsarai section in July 2016.
    • Mobility study of high density Ghaziabad-Allahabad-Mughalsarai section completed. Short term Action Plan under implementation.
    • Introduction of twin-pipe brake system in freight trains approved in-principle for implementation in all freight stocks. This will result in faster application and release of brake system consequent increase in speed of freight trains.
    • Action Plan for Right powering of freight trains is being worked out. Optimum horsepower to trailing load ratio will speed up freight trains and reduce transit time, directly benefitting the customers.
    • Removal of Level Crossing Gates for achieving faster speed and improved safety for 2787 level crossing gates targeted for removal in 2016-17.

Besides above mentioned measures, Ministry has also announced introduction of faster train services like “TEJAS” which requires minimal technological inputs and aims at attaining speeds above 130 kmph.

Tejas train design –

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Tejas coaches under construction at Rail Coach Factory-

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Water Vending Machines at Railway Stations

Indian Railways

Availability of affordable drinking water of prescribed standard to passengers is a basic amenity.  With a view to further improve the availability of potable drinking water for passengers; Ministry of Railways has formulated a comprehensive uniform policy for installation of Water Vending Machines (WVMs) at railway stations across the country. The objective of this policy is to lay down guidelines to make potable drinking water available through Water Vending Machines (WVMs) at stations.

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Under this new policy, installation of WVMs have been started and already 346 Water Vending Machines have been provided at stations. In addition to this, eight stations viz. Bhopal, Dwarka, Gadag, Guwahati, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Madurai, Patna and Tirupati stations have been identified for provision of RO drinking water units under a different scheme on experimental basis.

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Railway Stations identified for provision of RO drinking water units

Under the policy, the installation of WVMs is being handled by Railway PSU, Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). WVMs are being installed only by reputed manufacturers or their franchisee holders or authorised agents. Water ATM Photo-500x500The WVMs are having multiple dispensing tapes to facilitate maximum passengers to avail the facility simultaneously.  Priority is being accorded to provide WVMs at locations where General Coaches can have easy access.

Pure water is being dispensed through these highly mechanized machines for the passengers at an affordable price. Water dispensed through the vending machine is required to conform to BIS specifications IS 10500-2012(specification for drinking water) test requirement within desirable limit.  The water supplied through these machines is being frequently checked (at least once a month) through suitable device by the Health Inspector/ Medical Personnel.  Water Vending Machines are using Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology or alternate superior technology.  The cost & quantity of water dispensed are being displayed in a LED display so that amount is verifiable by the customer.

WVMs is providing pure drinking water in a much less price as compared to packaged drinking water.  Selling price of dispensed water is as follows: –

Refill

 With Container

300 ml. glass

Rs.1

Rs.2

Half Litre Bottle

Rs.3 Rs.5

1 Litre Bottle

Rs.5

Rs.8

2 Litre Bottle

Rs.8

Rs.12

5 Litre Bottle

Rs.20

Rs.25

The companies installing Water Vending Machines are required to provide adequate number of eco-friendly disposable tumblers of approved quality and design and water bottles of PET.  The companies providing machines are also to provide adequate number of dustbins of standard design with each machine.

IRCTC and/or Railways may inspect the Water Vending Machines from time to time to maintain the quality of services. In case of deficiencies found (quality/quantity of water, operator etc.) suitable penal action against the service provider will be taken by the Railways.

Presently drinking water at stations is generally supplied through water booths/water coolers after carrying out requisite treatment/disinfection as per requirement.  On select stations, R.O. drinking water units have also been provided.  In addition, packaged drinking water through departmental and licensee operated units is supplied.railneer

◙ Water Vending Machine at  Chandigarh railway station-water in only Rs 1 at #Chandigarh railway station

◙ Water Vending Machine at Surat-at surat

◙ Water Vending Machine at Chennai Central railway station-newly installed pure drinking water kiosk at the Chennai Central railway station

◙ Water Vending Machine at ECR railway stations in lucknow-Water vending machines at all ECR railway stations in lucknow

◙ Water Vending Machine at Madurai Railway junction-water vending machine inaugurated at the Madurai Railway junction

◙ Water Vending Machine at  Moradabad railways station-Water ATM installed by Indian Railways at Moradabad railways station

◙ Water Vending Machine at Bengaluru City Railway Station-water vending machines at Bengaluru City Railway Station

Modi Government Committed to Comprehensive Development and Empowerment of Minorities

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Author : Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi-led NDA Government is committed to the inclusive growth of minorities following the principle of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”, and has continuously increased the Plan Budget of the Ministry of Minority Affairs. In 2016-17, Rs. 3800 Crore have been earmarked which is a significant increase of more than Rs. 168 Crore over the 2015-16 expenditure level. In the last year 2015-16, the Modi Government has spent 20% higher than was spent in 2013-14 in the last year of the earlier Government, which is a substantial hike.

Ministry of Minority Affairs has made intensive efforts to promote education and employment among minority communities and taken important initiatives in last two years. A new scheme “Nai Manzil” has been launched in 2015 as an integrated education and livelihood initiative. nai_manzil_yojnaThis scheme has been approved with Rs. 650 Crore and it will benefit about 1 lakh minority youth. This is for the first time in the history of minority welfare programmes when World Bank has agreed to support such programme with 50% funding. Rs. 155 Crore has been earmarked for 2016-17 for implementation of programme. This scheme is also significant as it combines the formal education as well as skill development for school dropouts which will significantly enhance their career growth.

In conformity with priority of the Government for “Skill India” and “Make in India”, the skill development initiative for minorities “Seekho aur Kamao”.learnNearnbanner It has been strengthened and expanded and the outlay in 2015-16 has been increased by almost 11 times (over the level of 2013-14 of Rs. 17 Crore) by the Modi Government and Rs. 191.96 Crore has been sanctioned for training of about 1.23 lakh minority youths. Altogether in 2014-15 and 2015-16, 1.43 lakh minority youth have been trained. In 2016-17, the budget has been further increased to Rs. 210 Crore for training of 1.25 lakh minority youth.

Ministry implements an exclusive scheme “Nai Roshni” for Leadership Development ofimages Minority Women with an aim to empower and instill confidence in women by providing knowledge for interacting with Government systems, banks and intermediaries at all levels. In last two years of the NDA Government (2014-15 and 2015-16), Minority Affairs Ministry has trained more than 1.30 lakh women with Rs.28.98 Crore in 24 States. Recently, the implementation of the scheme has been independently evaluated by the NITI Aayog and they observed that the programme has been appreciated by most of the segments of the population of the society and it has assisted in creating confidence among minority women and developing leadership spirit in them.

The Government is aware of the problem being faced by the traditional craftsmen/ artisans. Due to poverty and non-updation in the skills to match global trends, many craftsmen/artisans are leaving their skills in search of other occupations. The Government cannot afford this huge loss of heritage of the country. Therefore, Ministry of Minority Affairs launched another new scheme “USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/ Crafts for Development)”.

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The scheme aims at setting standards of traditional skills, design development, capacity building and updating the traditional skills of master craftsmen and artisans, documentation and preservation. It also aims to engage the trained master craftsmen/artisans in training of minority youths in various specific traditional arts/crafts. Ministry has engaged National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), National Institute of Design (NID) and Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) to work in various craft clusters for design intervention; product range development; packaging; exhibitions, tying up with e-marketing portals to enhance sales; and brand building. Ministry has also signed MoUs with e-commerce portal to establish linkages with National and International market.

Ministry established Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills (MANAS),MANAS a special purpose vehicle, in 2014-15 to address skill development needs of minority communities and its linkage with concessional credit to provide sustainable livelihood through self-employment and entrepreneurship.MANAS

MANAS has made special efforts on skill training of students of Madarsas and other traditional educational institutions. So far, MANAS has collaborated with 39 traditional educational institutions of various minority communities including 31 Madarsas. The efforts for Madarsas have particularly been made to provide door step skill development facility for Muslim girls in minority concentration areas. If no such Madarsa for Muslim girls are available, MANAS arranges the training facility in the neighbourhood. Since inception, MANAS has covered about 65,000 minority youths for skill training.

For disbursal of scholarship in the students’ bank accounts, Ministry has completely shifted to Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) on National Scholarship Portal (NSP) in 2015-16.

National Scholarship Portal

NSP

The step has minimized the tiers involved in fund flow and thus reduced the delays in payment. Moreover, DBT mode and linking bank accounts with “Aadhaar” has helped the Ministry in accurate targeting of beneficiaries and curbing pilferage and duplications.

Under Free Coaching Scheme, the financial assistance is provided to prepare the minority students for competitive examinations for medical, engineering, Government jobs, etc. In the last two years of the Modi Government, the fund flow has been doubled from Rs. 23.00 Crore to Rs. 45.00 Crore and coverage of minority candidates has also increased from 9997 to 16,427 candidates.

Ministry, in its endeavour to preserve rich cultural heritage of minorities under “Hamari Dharohar”scheme, curated “The Everlasting Flame International Programme”, a programme which was one of its kind,  involving 3 travelling exhibitions on Parsi Culture namely ‘The Everlasting Flame’, ‘Painted Encounters, Parsi Traders and the Community & No Parsi is an Island’, and ‘Threads of Continuity’ during March-May, 2016 at the National Museum (NM), National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) and Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) respectively. For the first time, the articles for Exhibitions have been brought from British Museum, London; Hermitage, Russia; Iran, Uzbekistan etc. to showcase Parsi culture.

Ministry is also taking steps for protection and management of Waqf properties. Therefore, Ministry has taken initiative for GIS mapping of Waqf properties with the help of IIT Kanpur, Roorkee, Mumbai and National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC). It will enable Waqf Boards to detect and prevent encroachments on precious land resource.

National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) provides concessional loans for self-employment to minorities. NMDFC

Since 2012-13, Equity Infusion to NMDFC was disturbed because the then Government had not increased the Authorized Share Capital. During the period of earlier Government in 2013-14, no Central Government Equity could be contributed. For the first time in history of NMDFC, the Modi Government on 10.02.2015, has doubled the Authorized Share Capital of NMDFC in one go i.e. from Rs. 1500 crore to Rs. 3000 crore. Since then, Ministry has already contributed Rs.290 Crore as equity to the NMDFC. This has enabled NMDFC to leverage more loans to minorities.

Transparency in Governance being high on the agenda of the Modi Government, Ministry has launched online portals of Seekho aur Kamao, MANAS, Nai Roshni (a women empowerment programme), and Nai Udaan .Nai Udaan

(a scheme to support candidates who clear Preliminary examination of UPSC, etc. for preparation of Mains). Vital information have been kept in public domain on these portals.

Ministry of Minority Affairs will leave no stone unturned for realizing the objectives of each programme and outcomes on the ground. Ministry is also focusing on the simplified mechanism to achieve the goals. The people friendly procedures are being adopted to ensure Good Governance and effective and timely delivery of services and benefits to the minority groups targeted by our welfare schemes.

*The author is Minister of State (Independent Charge) Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India.

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Skill Training for Electrician under Seekho aur Kamao at Bhopal during 2015-16
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Skill Training for Hospitality under Seekho aur Kamao at Imphal (Manipur) during 2015-16
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Skill Training for ICT under Seekho aur Kamao at Muzzafarnagar (UP) during 2015-16

Rani Chennamma of Kitturu-Indian freedom fighter

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Author : Dr Nanditha Krishna

It is a little known fact that most of the revolts against British began in South India. Puli Thevar and Veerapandi Kattaboman, Palayakkarars (Poligars) of the mid- and late eighteenth centuries in Madras Presidency; the Marudu Pandyan brothers who revolted between 1799 and 1801; the Vellore Sepoy mutiny of 1806; and the revolt of Pazassi Raja of Kottayam in Kerala (1792 to 1805), are but a few examples of pre-1857 revolts. All the mutineers were ruthlessly killed – hanged, decapitated, or blown from canons – but they refused to apologise and get reinstated under British rule. There was great dissatisfaction in South India where the British were arbitrarily annexing lands and destroying flourishing local economies – textile, metallurgy and agriculture, among others – to be supplanted by revenue-generating transportation of local resources to the United Kingdom for boosting the British economy.

Rani Chennamma, the queen of Kitturu was one such warrior who led a war against British forces in early part of 19th Century when not many rulers were familiar with the evil designs of the British. She was the first Indian ruler to lead an armed rebellion against the British East India Company. She was outnumbered and arrested, but she is still remembered for leading the revolt against British rule in India.

Chennamma was born in Kakati, a small village in today’s Belagavi district of Karnataka. She became queen of Kitturu (now in Karnataka) when she married Raja Mallasarja of the Desai family. They had one son who died in 1824. After the death of her son, she adopted another child, Shivalingappa, and made him heir to the throne. However, the British East India Company did not accept this under the Doctrine of Lapse, a policy of annexation devised by the British East India Company.

According to the doctrine, any princely state or territory under the paramountcy (direct influence) of the British East India Company as a “vassal” under the British subsidiary system, would automatically be annexed if the ruler was either “manifestly incompetent or died without a male heir”. This Doctrine rejected the long-established right of an Indian ruler without an heir to choose a successor. The doctrine was regarded by Indians as illegitimate. It was an arbitrary policy which snatched away kingdoms when there was no direct heir.The princely state of Kitturu was taken over by the British East India Company in 1824 by imposing the ‘doctrine of lapse’, even before it was officially articulated by Lord Dalhousie, Governor General for the British East India Company, between 1848 and 1856. It was probably the first instance of its application. Lord Dalhousie merely made it official in 1848 by documenting it officially. Dalhousie’s annexations and the doctrine of lapse caused great anger among the ruling princes in India, making it one of the causes of the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

The British ordered Rani Chennamma to exile the adopted child Shivalingappa, using the policy of paramountcy and complete authority. But Chennamma defied the order. Rani Chennamma sent a letter to Lord Elphinstone, Lieutenant-Governor of Bombay Presidency, to plead the cause of Kitturu, but her request was turned down, and war broke out. The British tried to confiscate the treasures and jewels of Kitturu, valued at around Rs. 1.5 million, but in vain. With a force of 20,000 men and 400 guns, mainly from the third troop of Madras Native Horse Artillery, they attacked Kitturu. In the first battle on October 1824, British forces lost heavily and the Collector and political agent, St. John Thackeray, was killed by the Kitturu forces. Amatur Balappa, Chennamma’s lieutenant, was responsible for his death and the losses to the British forces. Two British officers, Sir Walter Elliot and Mr. Stevenson, were also taken as hostages.

Rani Chennamma released them after a promise from the British that the war would end. But the British cheated her and re-started the war.This time, the British officer Chaplin actually continued the war with more forces. Mr. Munro, nephew of Sir Thomas Munro and sub-collector of Solapur, was killed. Rani Chennamma fought fiercely with the help of her lieutenants, Sangolli Rayanna and Gurusiddappa, but was outnumbered and ultimately captured and imprisoned at Bailhongal Fort, where she died on 21 February 1829.

Chennamma was defeated in her last battle but she will always be remembered for her valour and for leading the first armed revolt against British rule in India. Chennamma’s first victory and her legacy are still commemorated annually in Kitturu, during the Kitturu Utsava held from October 22–24. Rani Chennamma’s is buried in Bailhongal taluk. Her samadhi is situated in a small park maintained by the Government.

On 11 September 2007, a statue of Rani Chennamma of Kitturu was unveiled at the Parliament complex in New Delhi by India’s first woman President, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil. photos47_big

The statue was donated by the Kittur Rani Chennamma Memorial Committee and sculpted by Vijay Gaur.

* Dr. Nanditha Krishna is a Chennai based historian, environmentalist and author of several books. She is also a professor at CP Ramaswami Aiyar Institute of Indological Research, affiliated to the University of Madras.

Jayaprakash Narayan: A Rebel Always

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Author : K.N. Pathak

Jayaprakash Narayan has a unique position in the history of modern India as he has this inimitable distinction of actively participating in three popular movements of the country. He not only fought against the British colonial rulers through all his might and especially during Quit India Movement risking his life, but also led the movement against corruption, and authoritarianism in the Seventies while before that forays in the Bhudan Movement for almost one decade in the Fifties and Sixties to bring about massive social change through change of hearts.

He was born on 11th October, 1902, in village Sitab Diyara of Saran district of Bihar. After completing his matriculation examination at the age of 18 in 1920, he started working in Patna. He got married to Prabhavati in the same year.

On the call of the nationalist leader Maulana Abul Kalam Azad for giving up English education, he left Patna college, barely 20 days before his exam and joined Bihar Vidyapeeth, a college founded by Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Leaving his wife Prabhavati in Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi, Jayaprakash Narayan sailed aboard to California in 1922 to join Berkeley University. To fund his higher education in US, he undertook various odd jobs like working in ranches, slaughterhouses, factories and mines. During his work and study phase, he got a closer insight into the hardships of working class. Having deep influence of the writings of M.N. Roy on his mind, he was convinced that the central problem of human society was inequality of wealth, property, rank, culture and opportunities and the passage of time never obscure it.

After completing his education abroad, when he returned to India in 1929, he had apparent influence of Karl Marx in his thoughts and views. On his way back to India, he met several communist leaders in London and India and discussed with them the issues of India’s freedom and revolution. He, however, did not subscribe to the views of Indian communists fighting against the Indian National Congress which was fighting for the freedom of the country.

On invitation from Jawaharlal Nehru, he joined Indian National Congress in 1929. From here onwards, he played an active role in Indian freedom movement. He was jailed in 1932 for actively participating in Civil Disobedience against British rule. During his imprisonment in Nasik jail in 1932, he came in closer contact with leaders like Ram Manohar Lohia, Ashok Mehta, Minoo Masani, Achyut Patwardhan, C K Narayanswami and others. This contact influenced him to join Congress Socialist party (CSP) headed by Acharya Narendra Dev, a group with left leaning within the Congress party.

As general secretary of the CSP in December 1939, Jayaprakash called upon the people to take advantage of the 2nd World War to stop British exploitation of India and to overthrow British Government. He was imprisoned for 9 months. After his release, he met Mahatma Gandhi and Subash Chandra Bose. To strengthen the Indian freedom movement, he tried to bring about a rapprochement between the two leaders, but could not succeed in that.

However, it was during the Quit India Movement of August 1942 that more sterling qualities of Jayaprakash Narayan came to the fore. He along with Ram Manohar Lohia and Aruna Asaf Ali, took charge of the ongoing stir when all the senior leaders had been arrested. However, he also could not remain outside the jail for long time and was soon arrested under Defence of India Rules, a preventive detention law that did not require trial. He was put in Hazari Bagh Central Jail. JP along with his accomplices started making plan to escape from the Jail. Their chance came soon on a Diwali day in November 1942 when a large number of guards were on leave because of the festival. It was a daring escape which made JP into a folk hero.

JP actively worked underground for Indian Freedom Movement in this period. For fighting the tyranny of British rule, he organised an “Azaad Dasta” (freedom brigade) in Nepal. After some months, he was arrested from Punjab while travelling in a train in September 1943. He was tortured by British authorities for getting necessary information about freedom movement. In January 1945, he was transferred from Lahore Fort to Agra Jail. When Gandhi insisted that he would begin negotiation with British rulers only after unconditional release of Lohia and Jayaprakash, They were released in April 1946.

During this period and with India gaining independence, Jayaprakash perhaps for the first time in his political life was fully convinced of futility of violence as a mean of social change. However, his commitment to the cause of poor did not diminish and this brought him closer to Vinoba Bhave’s Bhudan Movement. This was the second important phase of his life.

Then in early seventies came the third phase when common man suffered from the maladies of unemployment, corruption and price-rise. In 1974, the students of Gujarat requested him to lead the Nava Nirman Andolan.

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Nava Nirman Andolan

The same year in June, he gave a call of peaceful “total revolution” from a public meeting in Gandhi Maidan in Patna.

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Bihar Movement (or “Total Revolution”)

He exhorted the students to rise against corrupt political institutions and asked for a closure of colleges and universities for a year during which time he wanted the students to devote their time to rebuild the nation.  It was this time in the history that he was popularly called “JP”.

This movement finally culminated in the proclamation of Emergency and subsequently in the victory of the “Janata Party” which formed the first ever non-Congress Government in the Centre in March 1977. He had the credit of bringing all the Non-Congress Parties under single umbrella of Janata Party. JP will be remembered by every freedom loving person of our country. As a tribute to this modern revolutionary, the Government of India posthumously awarded him Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the country in 1999.

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Bharat Ratna

*Shri K.N.Pathak is an independent researcher and writes on socio-economic issues. He is former Joint Adviser of Niti Aayog, Govt of India.

Role of Chinnaswami Subramania Bharathi in freedom struggle

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Author : Dr S.S. Sundaram

Subramaniya Bharathiyar was a poet, freedom fighter and social reformer from Tamil Nadu. He was known as Mahakavi Bharathiyar and the laudatory epithet Mahakavi means a great poet. He is considered as one of India’s greatest poets. His songs on nationalism and freedom of India helped to rally the masses to support the Indian Independence Movement in Tamil Nadu.

Subramaniya Bharathiyar was born on 11th December 1882, in a village called Ettayapuram in Tirunelveli District in Tamil Nadu and his childhood name was Subbiah. His father was Chinnaswamy Iyer and his mother was Lakshmi Ammal.

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Bharati’s birth home at Ettayapuram has been renovated by Tamil Nadu government and open to the public

At the age of seven, Subbiah started writing poems in Tamil. When he was eleven, he wrote in such a way that even learned men praised him for his great knowledge and skill. In the eleventh year, Subbiah felt that he had to establish his credentials. He threw a challenge to the eminent men in the assembly of scholars that they should have a contest with him in a debate on any subject without any previous notice or preparation. The contest was held at a special sitting of the Ettayapuram Durbar at which the Rajah (the ruler) himself was present. The subject chosen was “Education”. Subbiah efficiently won the debate. This was a memorable moment in Subbiah’s life. The boy who was till then referred to as “Ettayapuram Subbiah” came henceforth to be known as “Bharathi”, and later he was respectfully referred to as“Bharathiar” by nationalists and by millions of Tamil lovers all over the globe.

In June 1897, Bharathi was hardly fifteen when his marriage took place, and his child-bride was Chellammal.  Bharathi left for Benaras which was also known as Kashi and Varanasi. He spent there the next two years with his aunt Kuppammal and her husband Krishna Sivan. Speedily gaining a fair knowledge of Sanskrit, Hindi and English, he duly passed with credit the Entrance Examination of the Allahabad University. The Banaras stay brought about a tremendous change in Bharathi’s personality. Outwardly, he sported a moustache and a Sikh turban and acquired a bold swing in his walk.

Bharathi: A poet and a Nationalist

Significantly, a new age in Tamil literature began with Subramaniya Bharathi. Most part of his compositions are classifiable as short lyrical outpourings on patriotic, devotional and mystic themes. Bharathi was essentially a lyrical poet. “Kannan Pattu” “Nilavum Vanminum Katrum” “Panchali Sabatam” “Kuyil Pattu” are examples of Bharathi’s great poetic output.

Bharathi is considered as a national poet due to his number of poems of the patriotic flavour through which he exhorted the people to join the independence struggle and work vigorously for the liberation of the country. Instead of merely being proud of his country he also outlined his vision for a free India. He published the sensational “Sudesa Geethangal” in 1908.

Bharathi as a Journalist

Many years of Bharathi’s life were spent in the field of journalism, Bharathi, as a young man began his career as a journalist and as a sub-editor in “Swadesamitran” in November 1904.

“India” saw the light of the day in May, 1906. It declared as its motto the three slogans of the French Revolution, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. It blazed a new trail in Tamil Journalism. In order to proclaim its revolutionary ardour, Bharathi had the weekly printed in red paper. “India” was the first paper in Tamil Nadu to publish political cartoons. He also published and edited a few other journals like “Vijaya”.

It is not surprising therefore that soon a warrant was waiting at the door of the “India”office for the arrest of the editor of the magazine. It was because of this worsening situation in 1908 that Bharathi decided to go away to Pondicherry, a French territory at that time, and continue to publish the “India” magazine. Bharathi resided in Pondicherry for sometime to escape the wrath of the British imperialists.

During his exile, Bharathi had the opportunity to mingle with many leaders of the militant wing of the independence movement such as Aurobindo, Lajpat Rai and V.V.S. Aiyar, who had also sought asylum in the French, Pondicherry. The most profitable years of Bharathi’s life were the ten years he spent in Pondicherry.

From Pondicherry, he guided the Tamil youth of Madras to tread in the path of nationalism. This increased the anger of the British towards Bharathi’s writings as they felt that it was his writings that induce and influence the patriotic spirit of the Tamil youth.

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Bharati’s Handwriting

Bharathi met Mahatma Gandhi in 1919 in Rajaji’s home at Madras. Bharathi entered British India near Cuddalore in November 1918 and was promptly arrested. Even in prison, he spent his time in writing poems on freedom, nationalism and country’s welfare.

 

In his early days of youth he had good relations with Nationalist Tamil Leaders like V.O.Chidambaram, Subramanya Siva, Mandayam Thirumalachariar and Srinivasachari. Along with these leaders he used to discuss the problems facing the country due to British rule. Bharathi used to attend the Annual sessions of Indian National Congress and discuss national issues with extremist Indian National Leaders like Bipin Chandra Pal, B.G. Tilak and V.V.S. Iyer. His participation and activities in Benaras Session (1905) and Surat Session (1907) of the Indian National Congress impressed many national leaders about his patriotic fervour. Bharathi had maintained good relations with some of the national leaders and shared his thoughts and views on the nation and offered his suggestions to strengthen the nationalist movement. Undoubtedly, his wise suggestions and steadfast support to the cause of nationalism rejuvenated many national leaders. Thus Bharathi played a pivotal role in the freedom of India.

Bharthi as a social reformer

Bharathi was also against caste system. He declared that there were only two castes-men and women and nothing more than that. Above all, he himself had removed his sacred thread. He had also adorned many Dalits with sacred thread.  He used to take tea sold in shops run by Muslims. He along with his family members attended church on all festival occasions. He advocated temple entry of Dalits. For all his reforms, he had to face opposition from his neighbours. But Bharathi was very clear that unless Indians unite as children of Mother India, they could not achieve freedom. He believed in women’s rights, gender equality and women emancipation. He opposed child marriage, dowry and supported widow remarriage.

Bharathi died on 11th September 1921. Bharathi as a poet, journalist, freedom fighter and social reformer had made a great impact not only on the Tamil society but also on the entire human society. He followed what all he preached and it is here that his greatness is manifested. His prophecy during the colonial period about the independence of India came true after two and half decades after his demise. His vision about a glorious India has been taking a shape in the post-Independence era. Bharathi did not live for himself but for the people and nation. That is why he is respectfully called as Bharathiyar.

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Subramanya Bharathi Signature

* Dr S.S. Sundaram is Professor & Head at Department of Indian History, University of Madras, Chennai (TN). He is also Chairperson- School of Historical Studies, Chennai.

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