The Hindu notes 10-11 JAn 2015

Gujarat Summit

For the first time in its 10-year history, the Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2015, which opens on Sunday, will be used as a stage for business-related diplomacy with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attending the high-profile event.

Started as a brainchild of Mr. Modi in 2003, the biennial event has been steadily rising in stature with every edition. The seventh edition of the three-day Summit, is set to get grander in terms of the sheer number of participants and the guests involved.

This year’s event will see eight countries, Canada, Japan, China, Australia, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa and the U.S. partnering with the State. With aggressive campaigning, the government expects participation from over 2,000 companies, two million-plus visitors and over 2,500 international delegates.

In the last six Vibrant Gujarat Summits, the States signed MoUs worth Rs. 48 lakh crore. However, the investment generated has been way below the intention expressed in these summits.

Vibrant Gujarat, held every two years, has yielded billions of dollars in investment promises but only a fraction of the deals announced has come to fruition.

Why oil prices falling?

If basic demand-supply equations are one factor for sliding oil prices, the other is financial market equations. The oil market was funded in a major way in the last few years by cheap dollars flowing out of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing programme. With interest rates at near zero, surplus funds flowed into the commodity markets, notably crude oil, driving their prices upwards.
The inability, or unwillingness rather, of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which accounts for about 40 per cent of global oil output, to cut production to match the demand is a major factor.
With the Fed winding up its stimulus programme and an interest rate hike in the U.S. possibly just round the corner, funds are now flowing out of commodities, driving their prices down. It is not a coincidence that oil prices started falling at around the same time that the Fed first indicated the possibility of a rate hike in the near term.

OPEC members are caught in a difficult spot as cutting down production will mean loss of revenue. They are also conscious about holding on to their market shares; cutting output will mean a loss of market share, especially if the U.S. shale gas producers continue to pump away. Yet, every barrel that they are unable to cut is adding to market surplus and depressing the price.

Saudi Arabia, which dominates the cartel with the highest share, appears determined to stay in a race to the bottom along with U.S. shale oil producers.

The kingdom is gambling that shale oil will become economically unviable to produce — if it already has not — as prices head below the $50 a barrel mark. First signs of that gamble paying off are just beginning to appear on the horizon. Drilling activity for shale oil is beginning to slow down as producers begin to feel the pinch of unremunerative prices. America’s oil output may now be at a three-decade-high but 2015 will be a crucial year as shale oil producers begin to cut down on output.

Impact on global economy
Cheaper oil is obviously good for the global economy; for an energy-intensive economy such as India’s, which also depends on imported oil for meeting four-fifths of its needs, a fall in oil price is like manna from heaven.

There are issues with the Chinese economy which is seeing a slowdown in manufacturing growth (mind you, this is not the same as a recession) and the euro zone’s troubles continue with Greece headed for snap polls amidst fear of a run on its banks. But the positive impact of falling oil prices outweighs these worries, at least at this point in time.

A recent IMF study says that every $10 fall in oil price adds 0.2 percentage points to global GDP growth. And that should mean a boost of a over 1.2 percentage points to global GDP growth given that oil has dropped from around $115 a barrel six months ago to less than $50 a barrel now.

Meeting the Maoist Challenge

In a spectacular strike on the security forces, cadres belonging to the CPI-Maoist ambushed a large team of police and paramilitary forces and killed 14 personnel of the CRPF in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh in December 2014. Ironically, two days before the attack, Chief Minister Raman Singh had declared that, “The day is not far when the state and Centre will together wipe out the Maoist menace and succeed in making Chhattisgarh Naxal-free.”

The Sukma attack has punctured such optimistic assessments. It was by far the gravest attack since the BJP-led NDA government assumed power in New Delhi in May 2014. The previous major attack targeting the security forces had occurred on 11 May 2014 in Maharashtra in which seven C-60 police commandos had been killed when Maoists blew up a police vehicle in Gadchiroli district. Between June and November 2014, the average monthly fatalities among the security forces was less than three – a comforting, yet complacency-inducing figure. The extremists, on the other hand, had suffered 56 fatalities during the period.

Extremism-related fatalities usually decline during the monsoon, which compels both the extremists and the security forces to scale down their operations. In addition, the CPI-Maoist was rocked by a number of high profile surrenders of some of its leaders. This led to the further extension of the lean period of Maoist violence in 2014. In the first 10 months of 2014, 472 Maoist cadres surrendered, compared with 283 in 2013. In his statement on the Sukma attack in Parliament, the Home Minister referred to the success achieved by Chhattisgarh in terms of the record surrender of the extremists, which has led to a weakening of the “morale of the Maoists”. The adverse operational impact of the recent desertions from the so-called revolutionary path has been acknowledged by the Maoists.

How to stop radicalisation?

A proactive government role and a holistic policy involving multiple government departments incuding health, education and housing for a gamut of schemes and programmes that can tackle “various contributory factors pushing people away from the mainstream”.
This would include, for example, programmes for more inclusive patterns of housing, an outreach programme for the mainstreaming of madrasa education and dealing with even the perceived grievance that minority-dominated areas are victims of wilful municipal neglect.
A Singaporean law mandates mixed ownership in all housing complexes through a fixed percentage of Malay, Chinese and Indian owners. While it may not be possible to replicate the model entirely, it could offer insights into government-mandated mixed housing. “At least in government-subsidised properties, can we not say there should be a percentage of housing for minorities?”
The challenge for authorities right now is to locate those being swayed by online propaganda, especially since those being radicalised are not just impoverished rural youth but also educated young Muslims with good jobs and prospects. Alongside encouraging deeper linkages with the community at every level, another suggestion is to push for change in the madrasa system of education through the introduction of Marathi and computer science as subjects. Only small percentage of madrasa-educated youth find employment as maulvis and pesh imams, many others struggle to find jobs.

To reduce the sense of alienation among Muslim youth, there is a need to sensitise members of one community to other communities’ religious beliefs and to tackle biases among members of various communities starting with government employees.
– See more at:

The Hindu Notes – 7 -9 Jan 2015

Nutrino Observatory Project -
In a landmark move, the Government of India’s Union Cabinet recently approved the India-based Neutrino Observatory project. Coming soon after the approval of the 30-metre telescope which will be located in Hawaii, this decision will cause India to step into big fundamental science. “A pioneer in the field of neutrino science, India was a world leader in 1965. In the mid-1990s, with the closing of the Kolar Gold Fields which was the site of the experiments, experimental neutrino research in India came to a halt, and the INO is expected to revive the lost advantage
The three types of neutrinos, which were initially thought to be mass-less, are now believed to have a small mass.

This was shown by observations of neutrino oscillation, which is a phenomenon by which one type of neutrino transforms into another.

There is a hierarchy among the masses of these three types of neutrino and the experiments at the INO will study this mass ordering using a magnetised iron calorimeter (ICAL). The ICAL is a massive detector which will be made of iron — 50,000 tonnes of it! The project will be housed in the 63 acres of land, about 2 km away from the settlement, in the Bodi West Hills about 100 km from Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

Why go underground?
The reason is that the neutrinos interact very weakly with the surroundings. We are all being washed by a stream of neutrinos every passing minute as they just pass through us without leaving a trace. Since they interact so weakly, detecting them over other interactions is impossible. We need to have a barrier of at least 1 km of earth to block out other radiation and particles, such as muons from cosmic rays.
They will construct a tunnel at a depth of 1,300 metres below the peak and which is 2 km by 7.5m by 7.5m. This will lead to a chamber that will house the detector.

While experiments around the world are being set up in the South Pole, on top of mountains and even in outer space, big basic science projects are still new in India. The INO’s project director Naba Mondal says, “This will be the largest experimental facility to come up in the country and students will get a chance to work with cutting edge technology and build sophisticated instruments.


Main Features of India’s Nuclear Doctrine:

The main features of India’s nuclear doctrine were summarized as follows in the CCS press release of January 4th 2003:

Building and maintaining a credible minimum deterrent;
A “No First Use” posture; nuclear weapons to be used only “in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere”;
Nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be “massive” and designed to inflict “unacceptable damage”.
Nuclear retaliatory attacks to be authorized only by civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority.
Non use of nuclear weapons against non nuclear weapon states.
India to retain option of retaliating with nuclear weapons in the event of a major attack against it with biological or chemical weapons;
Continuance of strict controls on export of nuclear and missile related materials and technologies, participation in FMCT negotiations, continued moratorium on testing;
Continued commitment to goal of nuclear weapon free world, through global, verifiable and non discriminatory disarmament.

Expose on “Credible Minimum Deterrent”:
The concept of “credible minimum deterrence” is the cornerstone of India’s nuclear doctrine. It, used in conjunction with the concepts of “No First Use” (NFU) and “Non Use” against nuclear weapon states, clearly indicates that India envisages its nuclear weapons as only a deterrent merely for defensive purposes and not as a means to threaten others, that it is not in the business of building up a huge arsenal and that it will not engage in arms racing.

The concept, however, also recognizes that for deterrence to be effective it must be “credible”.

The prerequisites for the credibility of our deterrent in the context of our nuclear doctrine may be listed as follows:

Sufficient and Survivable nuclear forces both in terms of warheads and means of delivery able to inflict unacceptable damage;

Nuclear Forces must be operationally prepared at all times;
Effective Intelligence and Early Warning Capabilities;
A Robust Command and Control System;
The Will to Employ Nuclear Forces;
Communication of Deterrence Capability.

Fall in oil prices – Impact on India

37% of import bill is of Oil, so import bill will come down
Prices of fuel going down lead to fall in prices of most of goods – lower inflation
Due to fall in prices, export comptitiveness will increase, hence boosting exports.
Henceforth, current account deficit will come down and balance of payment of India will imporove.
Subsidy cost will come down, hence fiscal deficit will improve.
Given assumption is that fall in oil prices does not lead to economic slowdown in countries where India’s economic engagement is higher.
Fall in oil prices may lead to default of Russian oil companies and shale gas produces in USA, which might impact credit flows of central banks thus affecting overall FII, FDI inflow to India
Overall, Indian economic will benefit from it in short term despite fall in stock markets.


Terror Attack in France

Terrorist Attack by 2 gunment in Paris, France at Charlie Hebdo magazine’s office killing 12 people including 4 cartoonists. Charlie Hebdo is a satirical weekly magazine. It was in controversy due to publishing of cartoons of Mohammad Prophet and received threat from various hardliners.
India will cooperate with France in counter terror. Al-Qaeda(Yemen) has taken responsiblity of attack.
Sizeable number of French and European nationals going to fight in the IS was a growning convern and might have proven as an inspiration for the attack. There are estimated 3000 Europeans now fighting for IS.

Sri Lanka Elections – Maithripala Sirisena President, Ranil Wikramasinghe PM

SL elections – Maithripala Sirisena has won presidential election. Ranil Wikramsinghe of UNP became Prime Minister. All indications are that the new NDF regime will continue to carry out the present development agenda with some modifications. Excessive reliance on China for economic assistance and loans for development, which has poltiical consequences too, is most likely to be reviewed. Close econmic cooperation with the West is a policy with which Ranil Wickramasinghe is identified. He is also known for his economic pragmatism. When he was PM, in 2002-2003 he devised policy of closer econmic integration between Sri Lanka and the southern States of India.
Recent tilt towards China incidents – $1.2 bn renovation of Colombo port project for state corporation is being done by Chinese companies.
Docking of Chinese submarines in Colombo harbour.
Loan of approx $500 mn for development projects.
Sirisena in his election manifesto has promised to stop this tilt and debt trap.


Carribean country Guyana will get $60 mn line of credit for 2 road and ocean ferry projects. Donal Ramotar, a PIO, is President of Guyana.


The Hindu Notes – 6 Jan 2015

India-China-USA comparision chart

What is the downside of not having a Planning Commission? Answer by Pranob Sen

The apprehension is that the Finance Ministry tends to be interested in finance and deficits, not development. Its primary role of managing finances on a day to day basis does not let it take long-term views.

Some of the jobs the Planning Commission did can be done by other bodies. For instance, evaluations and project appraisals. But the basic function of the Planning Commission was having a system-wide view of development interventions and being able to match with stated objectives of governance. A lot of things flow from that. In case of inter-ministerial disputes the Commission stepped in as it had both sides of the picture. Government works in silos and the Commission was a moderator. In its absence the silos are complete. Its most important function was not allocations but checks and balances. It was an independent voice. If a ministry said something the Commission could contradict. We have lost an independent voice.


Mythology Vs Science
Science is grounded on the principle of reproducibility of results. The claims of advanced science and technology in the ancient world are based on some references in ancient scripts that may be wholly imaginary. Flying, for instance, has caught humankind’s imagination across cultures right from ancient times. Such references should be taken for the myths they are, not as scientific facts. Scientists have been able to create animal chimeras that have cells/organs of different species, much as what Greek mythology describes. Should the Greeks then be taken as pioneers in the science of chimera production? Thanks to our understanding of genetics and the ability to fertilise eggs outside the body, producing designer babies is no longer in the realm of science fiction. Should the creators of the science fiction then be credited with devising the procedures? Compare this with how Sir Arthur C. Clarke documented his idea of communications satellites in a concept paper published in 1945. Dozens of geosynchronous satellites launched each year do precisely what Sir Arthur had visualised there.
India vs China – economy

Few people in 1978 could have imagined the monumental economic progress that China would make because of the economic reforms pushed by Deng Xiaoping. The reforms stressed the principle of “each according to his work” rather than “each according to his need,” professionalism and efficient economic management at all levels and the gradual introduction of policy changes to avoid problems in implementation.

Both countries, in the course of history, have feared foreign domination, have considered the state as the driver of growth and have suspected the private sector’s initiatives. For India, the problems were achieving unity in diversity and accommodating various languages and religions in a democratic set up. On the contrary, China’s hard state enabled it to pursue a single goal with determination and mobilise maximum resources to achieve its goals.
China experienced many problems in initiating industrialisation, but after some hitches, it switched to an all-round emphasis on heavy and light industries, and had a more successful resource mobilisation strategy than India did. As a result, Chinese manufacturing grew at 9.5 per cent, twice as much as India’s rate, from 1965-80. Also, China managed its agrarian reform better than India did.
Deng transformed agriculture first and then took on the industrial sector. He opened up the latter to foreign capital while making room for the growth of village and local enterprises. Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and now Xi Jinping have continued to follow Deng’s principles, but with some adjustments. China’s economic growth was also made possible by a very large net inflow of foreign direct investment, a sign of confidence in the Chinese economy by outside investors. China is the leading nation in exports and the second largest economy in the world. The country’s per capita income more than quadrupled, ($5,720 equivalent to about PPP $13,000) and abject poverty was completely eliminated (though income inequality increased). China’s Human Development Index has also risen from .423 in 1980 to .719 in 2013, according to the United Nations Development Programme 2014.
Freed from the constraint of food grain availability thanks to the Green Revolution, India did not manage to apply to its industrial sector the lessons it learnt in its agricultural revolution — using foreign knowledge, relying on the private sector and deploying subsidies selectively. Instead, foreign borrowing was used to ease the consumption constraint in the public sector and to cushion loss-making public enterprises.

Indian policy underwent directional changes in 1991. Prime Minister Narasimha Rao ushered in reforms which were implemented well by his Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, who then became the second-longest serving Prime Minister of India. Indian economic growth accelerated during the period 1995-2008, but could not maintain the momentum due to political paralysis of policies that were necessary for economic growth. Gross national income per capita in 2013 was $1,550 and India’s HDI increased from 0.369 in 1980 to 0.586 in 2013.
The primary difference between the performance of the Indian and Chinese economy has been the faster growth of capital stock in China. With only a slight difference in the growth of employment, this translated into a more rapid growth of capital intensity. The growth of total factor productivity has also been faster in China. This appears to reflect a greater ease for labour to move out of agriculture into higher productivity sectors in China than in India. China has outdistanced India in every area of economic endeavour in the last 35 years, except in computer software industry and agricultural research.
Despite international border issues that still exist between India and China, the two countries are trying to create a cooperative relationship — China has become India’s largest trading partner in 2013, India’s trade deficit with China is about $38 billion, President Xi has offered $20 billion for investment in Indian infrastructure and other industries, and a 100-person delegation of Zhejiang province has signed MoUs with India totalling about $2.46 billion.

Troubles in China’s financial markets, a declining young and increasing older population as a proportion of the working age population, increasing wages in general and export industries in particular, costs associated with cleaning up serious environmental pollution, increasing competition from other countries in export industries using low-skill and semi-skill labour, lower savings rate and a possibly lower investment rate will have a negative effect on its growth.

The problem in India has always been implementation. In a noisy political democracy, problems are compounded by the existence of multiple political parties with no coherent approach to development.

Making Nuclear Liability law feasible – Legalities – remedies

A target of installing 63 Gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2032 has been reduced to 27.5 Gigawatts and none of the landmark deals envisaged has been struck. The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act, 2010 which contains a speedy compensation mechanism for victims of a nuclear accident has been deemed responsible for this deadlock. Specifically, provisions on recourse liability on suppliers (Section 17(b)) and concurrent, potentially unlimited liability under other laws (Section 46) have been viewed as major obstacles in operationalising nuclear energy in India and bilateral relations with key supplier countries.

Under Section 17(b), a liable operator can recover compensation from suppliers of nuclear material in the event of a nuclear accident if the damage is caused by the provision of substandard services or patent or latent defects in equipment or material. This is contrary to the practice of recourse in international civil nuclear liability conventions, which channel liability exclusively to the operator. Specifically, it contradicts Article 10 of the Annex to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), an international treaty which India has signed.

That Section 17(b) is contrary to the global norm is undeniable. However when the global norm itself is inequitable, there are justifiable reasons to depart from it. The inclusion of Section 17(b) recognises historical incidents such as the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984 for which defective parts were partly responsible. The paltry compensation paid to the victims was facilitated by gaps in legislation and an extraordinarily recalcitrant state machinery. This is not a peculiarly Indian phenomenon — accidents such as Three Mile Island occurred partially due to lapses on the part of suppliers. More recently, forged quality certificates were detected for parts supplied to nuclear plants in South Korea. That Section 17(b) incentivises supplier safety and reduces the probability of a recurrence of such instances is equally undeniable.
However in pursuing the safety of supply, Section 17(b) goes too far in keeping liability for suppliers entirely open-ended. If liability on suppliers is unlimited in time and quantum, the possibility of getting adequate insurance cover will reduce. Even if such insurance is available, it could make nuclear energy economically unviable. To address this, Rule 24 of the CLND Rules dilutes the right of recourse conferred by Section 17(b) by limiting compensation payable by suppliers to a specified amount and for a specified time period. Both these are made standard terms of the contract entered into between the supplier and operator.

As far as the limitation on the amount is concerned, without Rule 24, the liability for each supplier potentially extends to the general liability cap of Rs.1,500 crore. If all suppliers have to be insured up to this value, insurance costs will be unnecessarily pyramided. To address this, countries with a history of nuclear power have in place mechanisms to provide for insurance coverage through international insurance pools where insurers, operators and states share the risks of an accident, providing access to a wide pool of compensation. There are about 26 such pools in existence, which also provide reinsurance to each other. Insurance pools typically require members to be signatories to an international convention (such as CSC), and to allow reasonable inspections of their nuclear installations.
Section 46 provides that nothing would prevent proceedings other than those which can be brought under the Act, to be brought against the operator. This is not uncommon, as it allows criminal liability to be pursued where applicable. However, in the absence of a comprehensive definition of the types of ‘nuclear damage’ being notified by the Central Government, Section 46 potentially also allows civil liability claims to be brought against the operator and suppliers through other civil law such as the law of tort. While liability for operators is capped by the CLND Act, this exposes suppliers to unlimited amounts of liability. Obtaining insurance coverage for any future liability costs on account of claims by victims in such a case would be next to impossible. ection 46 should thus be limited to criminal liability, and should clarify that victims who suffer on account of ‘nuclear damage’ can institute claims for compensation only under the CLND Act and not by recourse to other legislations or Courts.

Importance of addressing these issues in Indo-US relation:
The issue of the liability law has, for far too long, been a thorn in India’s bilateral relations especially with the United States. Mr. Obama’s visit provides a historic opportunity to address these misgivings and meet foreign governments, as well as the entire supplier community, Indian and foreign, halfway on the issue. This will signal the seriousness of the Government of India in setting its own house in order and put the ball firmly in the court of the supplier community. By putting in place such a comprehensive, fair and pragmatic legislation on civil nuclear liability, there is no reason why India cannot reap the long-term benefits of civilian nuclear energy and resolve a prickly foreign policy issue, the time for whose resolution has come.

The Hindu Notes- 05 Jan 2014

  • 36000 queries pending under RTI act with Central Information Comission, which has been functionting without a CIC for almost four months
  • Decision of USA government certified the Pakistan government’s action against LeT and JeM despite the fact that both Let and Jem have resurfaced visibly in the past year in Pakistan and founders of both Hafiz saeed and Masood Azhar had held public rallies in Pakistan in 2014.
    Limitation on assistance (aid) A section of Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, 2009
    The govt of Pak during the preceding fiscal year must demonstrate a sustained commitment to:
    Ceasing support to terror groups, preventing Al-Qaeda and associated terrorist groups such as Laskar-e-Taiba and JeM from operating in Pak and carrying cross border terror attack
    Strengthening Counter terrorism and anti-money laundering laws.
  • Union govt recently blocked 32 websites evoking serious questions and criticism. Action was sought to be justified on the grounds that these websites were being used for Jihadi Propaganda by Anti-National groups encouraging Indian youth to join organisations such a IS. Such a justification may in principle seem resonable, yet it does not instil confidence in citizens given:
    the weak track regard of Internet regulation and
    a deficit legal framework coupled with arbitrary use of powerSome examples of use of internet for Jihadi propaganda
    1. Bengaluru Based Mehdi Hasan – recently arrested using twitter handle
    2. Al-Queda uses internet to announce its latest terror attacks and strategic alliances, promote its interest, root for funding etc
    3. IS uses popular hashtags to boost its viewership, sending thousands of tweets

    Indeed terrorists are using Technology with significant level of sophistication.

    Sceptism is not over principle behind action but over implementation. Section 69A of Information Tech Act, 2003 whose constitutional validity is in question in SC, is riddled with vagueness and is open to arbitrary use – eg Arrest of girls in Mumbai last year over facebook posts on Bal Thakaray.
    Reasonable restriction on Freedom of speech (19(2)) is to be interpreted to include only cases where there is direct relation between offending speech and public disorder or national security.
    Blocking websites is rarely an effective method to curb terror activities.

  • The introduction of educational qualifications as eligibility criteria for contesting panchayat elections through Ordinance has shocked and angered rural Rajasthan which makes 95% women and 80% men in rural areas ineligible for contesting. This is a delibrate attempt to ensure elite capture of grass-roots democracy. In one stroke, this decision lays the blame and burden of education on the people and ensure the continuance of power in hands of few.
    The punishment for failure of delivery cant be inflicted once again on the victim. Women, Dalits and tribals, who are at the bottom of the pile, will be the most affected.
    Illiteracy is not merely from lack of schooling. It can come from ignorance of highly specialised modes of governance which even MA degree can not address. Governance in rural Rajasthan need ethics and guts – values not determined by class 8 certificated- which incidentally, can often be obtained illegally, especially ruling elite in the area.
    Promoters of Sati pratha were highly literate men who led a massive demonstration by drawing on caste loyalties and values of the feudal elite. Rape corruption, cheating and injustice have not occurred because of illiteracy. Honor killings, the revival of witch hunting, the development of modern methods of corruption, together with primitive public punishments such as stripping and parading women have not come from illiteracy; They have come from the misuse of traditional and official power to retain elite control- a deadly combination. Protests against such acts have come from ordinary people who are brave enough to take cudgels. Many of them are illiterate, but they are courageous and ethical. It is frightening because this is not a result of tradition or lack of exposure alone, but of impunity from accountability. Literacy has not changes the balance of power. It is unquestioned power that flouts good governance.
  • Ordinance invoked for amendment of Land Acquisition Act 2013 provides 5 instances of exemption
    1. Projects involving national security and defence
    2. Rural infrastructure
    3. Affordable housing,
    4. Industial corridors running along national highways
    5. Social Infrastructure projects.
  • Ordinance route as a normal course is undesirable to say the least, and is fraught with serious consequences in democratic set-up. The recourse to Ordinance also reflects a new emerging aggressive interface between the ruling and opposition class. Narrow approach of both has hurt and is hurting the cause of Indian economy.

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Playing with Age limit

I know you all have read reports in newspapers regarding decreasing upper age limit for UPSC CSE. There are talks of making it to 26 for GE, 28 for OBC and 29 for SC/ST from 2015. Upper age limit for CSE 2014 is 32 years for GE, 35 for OBC and 39 for SC/ST. Actually it is 30/33/35 years but 2 years of grace period is provided for 2014 and 2015 due to drastic change in syllabus of mains examination.

I was shocked with the news and am sure you too. Specially shocking is the information that it will be applicable from 2015. Though government has earlier announced extra attempt in CSE 2015 for those who appeared in 2011. It plays literally with dreams of many aspirants who have worked hard for years but unlucky. We should not let it happen. Hindi medium aspirants protests have enough impact on 2014 prelims but at the cost their own loss.  I am sure many of protesting students would not have enough time to prepare.

Once Rajiv Gandhi tried to lower it to 26 years on recommendation of Kothari Commission but he had to retract because of strong protest and 30 yrs limit maintained. It is learnt that the decision was taken by DoPT in 2013 based on recommendation of 2nd ARC but government has kept the implementation pending. Probably it will be kept in pending for next many years as its implementation undoubtedly will invite wrath of many aspirants.

So let us not be distracted from such news until a confirmation comes from UPSC. If something like this happens, do not sit quite. We all are together.

Temple Architecture in South India

Four styles developed:

  • Dravidian
  • Vesara
  • Nayaka
  • Vijayanagara

In pallav school, temple architecture developed
Stage I – Mahendra group

  • Rock-cut architecture
  • Word Mandap is used instead of temple

Stage II – Narsimha group

  • Decoration in rock cut caves
  • Mandap now became rathas. The biggest rath was called as Dharmaraj Rath and small called Draupadi Rath
  • Dharmaraj rath was a precursor of Dravidian style

Stage III- Rajsimha group

Development of real structural temple. Ex. Shore temple at Mahabalipuram TN, Kailashnath temple at Kanchipuram.

Stage IV- Nandivarman Group

  • Development of small temple
  • Dravidian style continued

Dravidian Style of Architecture

Oldest Style of Architecture
Dravidian Style of Architecture

Shikhara is a crowning element at the top of the temple. It is shaped like an octagonal cupola. It is equivalent to ‘Amalak’ and Kalash of Nagara style of Architecture

Shikhar of Dravidian Temple

Entrance of the temple’s garbha griha has sculptures of Dwarpals gaurding the temple ( Whereas in Nagara style there are images of Mithun and river goddess Ganga and Yamuna are seen at entrance of Garbha Griha

There is only one Vimana in Dravidian (Unlike Nagara where there are multiple Shikhars ie also in subsiduary shrines).

Crucified ground plan and unraised platform is another feature

Brihadeshwara Temple - Tanjore

Ex. Brihadeshwara Temple at Tanjore, TN. It was built in 1011. Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple

Dravidian started during pallavas but flourished during the rule of Cholas

Functions of Temples

      Administrative centres
      Controlling vast areas of land in terms of revenue collection
      Centre of education

Chola Sculpture – Nataraj
Nataraja Sculpture

  • Upper right hand – holding drum: The drum represents sound, great sound from which all creations spring
  • Upper left hand- Eternal Fire: Represents destruction which is inevitable counterpart of creation – First destruction and then creation not vice verse
  • Lower right hand Raised in gesture of benediction (Abhaya Mudra) which reassures the devotee not to be afraid
  • Lower left hand points towards his upraised foot as the path of salvation
  • He dances on a small dwarf which represents ignorance and the individual ego
  • Mattled Locks indicate river Ganga which flows down to irrigate the earth
  • One ear has a male ring and another ring a female, symbolizing ardhanarishwar ( Fusion of male and female)
  • A snake is twisted around his arm representing Kundalini power. Kundalini power reaches in the human spine and when aroused represents consciousness
  • The Nataraj is surrounded by nimbus if light symbolising vast unending cycles of time

Nayaka Style

Famous example – Meenakshi temple @ Madurai. All the features of Dravidian style are present here along with an additional prominent feature called PRAKARMS .Prakarms are huge corridors alongwith roofed ambulatory passageways. Intricate carvings are seen all across the temple walls.
Meenakhsi temple constructed with initiative of Tirumalai Nayak in mid 17th century, hence called Nayak style

Vesara Style/ Chalukya style/ Karnataka Style

This style has features of both Nagara and Dravidian style. It consists of two principle components – 1. Vamana and 2. Mandapa
both joined by Antarala. It did not have covered ambulatory around sanctum. The pillars, door frames and ceilings are intricately carved.
Ex. Dodda Bassapa Temple at Dambal. Temples at Badami.
Developed in Mid 17th century

VijayaNagar Art

Some variations from Dravidian style in temple architecture:

  • gopuram now enlarged
  • High enclosure walls
  • More decorations
  • Sculpture of motif of supernatural horse frequently
  • The concept of secular buildings was also introduced by the Vijayanagar Empire – Ex Lotus Mahal

Pala School of art

  • Pala ruled in Bihar-Bengal region
  • Developed under Pata and Sen rulers
  • Eighth to twelveth century
  • Influence of Hindu and Buddhist
  • Focut on architecture and culture
  • The Architecture were fine finished
  • Figures were much decorated and well polished
  • Both stone and metal sculptures have been found
  • Even the stone sculptures appear as metal due to high polishing.

Rashtrakuta Art

  • Around eighth century
  • Successors of Chalukyas
  • Elephanta caves
    • Built in second half of 8th century
    • They are cave temples on island of Elephanta near Mumbai dedicated to Lord Shiva
    • Sculpture of trimurati representing 3 faces
  • Kailash Temple at Ellora

  • Kailasha Temple at Ellora

Hoysala Art

  • Developed in southern region in Karnatka esp Mysore
  • Period 1050Ad-1300AD
  • Multpile shrines are ground arond central pillared hall and laid out in shape of intricately designed store. Thus the ground plan is know as stellate plan
  • Hoysala Art - Ground plan

  • The temples are made up of soft soap stone – a good material for intricate carving
  • Both interior and exterior of the temple has intricate carving( Particularly in the jewelleries of God in temple walls)
  • Shikhara on each inner chamber, and radically modified by an arrangement of horizontal lines and molding which resolve the tower into an orderly succession of tiers
  • Temples were built upon an upraised platform of about a meter called Jagati. Jagati follows a star shaped design, and the walls of the temple follow zig-zag design

Nagar Style of Temple Architecture


Nagar School of Architecture

Skeleton of Nagara School Temple

  • Successor of third stage, so has all features of it.
      Pillared approach
    • Assembly hall
    • Covered ambulatory passageway
    • Shikhar
    • Garbha-grih – Sanctum Sanctorum
    • Upraised platform
    • Panchayatan Style
    • Square temples
    • Crucified ground
  • Absence of tanks in the temple ( Unlike Dravidian style)
  • Division of each wall into 3 vertical planes called rathas
  • Sculptures made in these three planes. All three as a whole are called Trirathas
  • Later Pancharatha, Saptaratha and even navratha planes originated
  • Prominent in Northern and Central part of India except peninsular India
  • Three sub-schools developed under Nagar Style – 1. Odisha school, 2. Khajuraho school, 3. Solanki School
  • Odisha School

    • Ex. Konark Temple in 13th century also called black Pagado -> gate of black sandstone.
    • Believe that during sunrise, first rays enter these pagoda
    • Jagannath Temple – Puri, Lingaraja Temple (1100AD)

    Unique features of Odisha School:

    • Exterior walls are lavishly decorated through intricate cravings but interior walls are plain
    • No use of pillars- Instead of pillars, iron gridders were used, to support roof.
    • Shikhara is called Deul and is almost vertical till the top when it suddenly curves sharply inwards
    • Shikhar of a Nagara School Temple

    Khajuraho School/ Chandel School

    Developed by Chandel Rulers. – 10th -11th Century

    • Both interior and exterior is lavishly decorated with intricate carving
    • Sculptures based on erotic themes on the walls of temple – is. based on Kamasutra
    • Do not have boundary walls
    • Have 3 elements :
      • Garbha Griha
      • Assembly hall
      • Portico – Veranda surrounded by Pillars
    • Shikharas also present in the subsidiary shrines( Gives impression of a mountain range)
    • Platform relatively high
    • Kandariya Mahadeva

    • Ex. Kandariya Mahadeva temple

    Solanki School

    Modhera Sun Temple

    Modhera Sun Temple

    In Gujarat by Solanki Rulers – ex. Modhera Sun Temple. Solanki were branches of Chalukya rulers

    • Massive rectangular stepped tank. On steps there are small temples
    • The walls of the central shrine are devoid of carving and are left plain as the temple faces east, and every year at the time of equinoxes, the sun shines directly into this central shrine
    • Delwata Temple - Nagar School

    • Ex. Dilwara temple in Mt Abu – Highest Jain pilgrimage

Golden Age of Indian Architecture – Gupta Age

  • Beginning of temple architecture and also reached its climax in the gupta age
  • Greatest development in caves were mural paintings
  • Guptas were Bramhanical by religion but they also showed their exemplary tolerance for both Buddhism and Jainism
  • Early Gupta period shows emphasis on Hindu art and later also Buddhist and Jaina Art, Buddhist Art reached its climax during this stage.
  • Under Hinduism, 3 deities were worshiped->
    • Vishnu -> Vaishnavas (Northern and central part)
    • Shiva – Shaivas (Southern part)
    • Shakti – In southern Malabar region and eastern India

Development in cave architecture took the form of cave paintings

Ajanta caves-

  • Near Auragnabad in Maharashtra
  • 29 caves discovered in 19th century(1829)
  • Period of development 200BC to 650 AD
  • Out of 29, 4 chaityas and 25 Vihars
  • They are carved on a perpendiculat cliff(unlike ellora which is on sloping side). As they are on perpendicular side, there are no countryyards
  • All three forms of art are combined in these caves – Architecture, sculpture and paintings – Mural painting

Techniques involved in preparing painting –

  • First step: A layer of clay mixed with cow dung and rice husks was first spread on the rough surface of the rock
  • Second step: A coating of lime plaster is done
  • Third step: Surface was kept moist until the color was applied. ( Hence they are called Fresco paintings)
  • Outlines are drawn in red color and then all colors are used except blue as it cant be obtained from the hills.

Theme : Inspired by Jataka stories

  • Chinese Buddhist traveler Fa-Hien and Hiuen Tsang refer to Ajanta in account of their travel to India
  • Out of 29 caves, 5 belong to Hinayana period and rest 24 belong to Mahayana period.
  • Cave number 16 is the most elegant architecturally

Famous Fresco paintings of Ajanta:

  • Dying princess
  • Flying apsara
  • Preaching Buddha

Ellora Caves

  • Has 34 caves
  • These caves are associated with all three religion unlike Ajanta
  • 17 caves – Hinduism Dominant , 12 – Buddhism and 5 – Jainism
  • excavated or craved out on sloping side of hill, hence most temples have courtyard
  • Cave no 10 is a chaiyta dedicated to lord Vishwakarma, indicating its dedication to patrons saint of craftsman
  • Cave 14 – Ravan ki Khai
  • Cave no 15, Dashavtaram cave
  • Cave 16 – Kailash Temple is architectural wonder as it is craved out of monolith (Kailash leni)
  • Ellora has even triple storied caves – Ajanta has only double storied

Jain caves

  • Indra Sabha
  • Jagannath Sabha( smaller than Indra Sabha. Same techniques of painting used that is mural and fresco painting

Bagh cave

  • Near Bagh river in MP, there is 9 Buddhist caves dated around 6th century AD similar to Ajanta caves.

Junagadh Caves

  • In Gujarat
  • Main feature – UparKot that is citadel.
  • Uparkots are 30 to 50 feet high. Artificial platform connected by staircase to the hall

Nasik caves

  • 25 Buddhist caves belonging to Hinayan perion dated around 1st century AD called as Pandav Leni . Spiritual presence of Buddha denoted by thorn and footprints.

Mandapeshawar caves

  • Dated to 8th century AD
  • Only Brahmanical cave converted into a christian cave


  • One new school was added that is Sarnath school
  • As name suggest – developed at Sarnath
  • Use of cream color sand stones
  • Nakedness was lacking- more dress and properly covered
  • Halo is more decorative
  • Even metal sculptures were developed during this age – eg. Sultanganj Buddha (7.5 ft in height)


  • less number of stupas constructed
  • Best example – Dhamekh – Stupa near Sarnath

Temple Architecture

  • Temple architecture began and also reached at its climax during Gupta age
  • Development occurred in 5 stages

First Stage:

  • Flat roof temples
  • Square Temples
  • Shallow Pillared approach at the front
  • On low platforms
  • eg – Temple number 17 in Sanchi

Second Stage:

  • Continues – Flat roof, square, pillared approach – not shallow
  • Now on high or upraised platforms
  • Covered ambulatory around the sanctum sanctorum
  • Even instances of 2 storids temples are found
  • Ex. Prabhavati Temple in MP

Third Stage:

  • Continued – square temple, pillared approach, High platform or covered ambulatory
  • Flat roofs not seen
  • Low and square Shikhars(curve-linear tower
  • Introduction of panchayatan style of temple making
  • Ex. Dashavatara temple at Deogarh(UP), Durga temple at Aihole, Karnataka
  • Nagar style is successor of Third stage of temple making

Fourth Stage:

  • Rectangular temples
  • Rest all features continued
  • temple at Solapur

Fifth Stage:

  • Circular Temples with shallow rectangular projects
  • Rest all features continued
  • Ex. Maniyar Math at Rajgir

Post Mauryan Art

  • Caves, stupas, sculptures continued
  • Sculpture making reached its climax during this stage

Now 2 kinds of caves originated – 1. Chaitya 2. Vihar


  • Prayer hall for monks
  • Karla Chaitya in Mahrashtra


  • Residence / rest places of Monk
  • Nashik Vihar, Ajanta caves (29 caves – 4 chaitya and 24 vihars)


  • Now more enlarged stupas were built
  • Gateways or Toranas were now beautifully carved

In this phase – 3 schools developed with regard to sculpture making

  • Gandhara
  • Mathura
  • Amravati
Basis Gandhara Mathura Amaravati
Outside Influence Greek influence. Also called Indo Greek Art No outside influence – indigenous indigenous
Type of Sandstone Grey Sandstone/Bluish grey sandstone Spotted Red Sandstone White marbles
Religious influence Mainly Biddhist All 3- Hinduism, Jain, Buddhist Mainly Buddhist
Promoted by Kushana Dynasty Kushana Dynasty Satvahanas and Icchavakus
Areas Northwest Frontier Mathura, Sonkh, Kankalitila (Mostly Jain) Krishna Godavari lower valley
Features of sculptures
  • Spiritual Buddha(sad buddha) represents calmness
  • Bearded Buddha, Moustache
  • Wearing Less ornaments
  • Having wavy hair
  • Large forehead
  • Buddha is seated in position of Yogi
  • Having large ears
  • Protuberance on his head

Two Schools:

  • Early – Bluish – grey sandstone
  • Later – Use of mud and lime plaster
  • Delighted Buddha ie not spiritual
  • Head and face shaven
  • Muscularity
  • Dress is tight, energetic body
  • Buddha face reflects grace
  • seated in Padmasana
  • Right hand in Abhaya Mudra raised above shoulders.
  • Left hand on thigh
  • Buddha surrounded by two Bodhisattavas – 1. Padmapani – Holding lotus 2. Vajrapani – Holding vajra
  • Halo around the head of Buddha decorated with geometrical motifs
  • Images of Vaishnava (mainly vishnu and his various forms)
  • Shiva represented through ling and Mukhaling
  • Jain:Sculpture of Mahavira
  • Protuberance on head
  • Reflects narrative
  • Theme based on life of Buddha as Jataka stories
  • Stories of previous birth of Buddha both in human as well as animal form

Indian Architecture – From notes of Nitin Singhania (AIR 53)

Ancient India

Medieval India

  • Delhi Sultunate (1206-1526)
    • Imperial Style (Developed By Empire – a state initiative)
      • Slave Dynasty 1206-1290
      • Khilji 1290- 1320
      • Tughlaq 1320 -
      • Lodhi
    • Provincial Style (Other than Empire)
      • Jaunpur
      • Malwa
      • Bijapur
  • Mughals (1526-18th century)
    • Babur
    • Humayun
    • Akbar
    • Sahjahan
    • Aurangjeb

Modern India

  • Indo- Gothic Style
  • Neo Roman Style

Sculpture vs Architecture

Architecture refers to designing and construction of building whereas Sculpture is 3-D work of Art.

In Architecture, various types of materials are used ie stones, wood, glass, metal etc. Whereas sculpture is made of single piece of material.
Architecture involves study of engineering and engineering mathematics and depends on measurement whereas sculpture involves creativity and imagination, may not depend on measurement.

Harappan Civilization



  • Seals are square, rectangular, circular or triangular piece of material – mainly stones. with an average size of 2’X2′ . Dominantly square seals were found on them, we find picto-graphic scripts along with animal impressions which are yet to be deciphered.
  • Seals are made up of steatite(a river soft stone). Evidences of copper, gold and ivory seal has also been found in some instances.
  • 5 signs or symbols on an average are present on seals.
  • Direction of writing is from right to left.
  • eg . Pashupati seal, Unicorn Seal
  • Seals are decorated with animals motifs such as unicorn, bull, rhinoceros, tiger, elephants, bison, goat, buffalo except cow etc.
  • Inscriptions or human figures are present on both sides of seals. Even in some cases, these are present on all three sides.

Significance and Purpose of seals

  • Mainly used as a unit of trade and commerce
  • Also used as an educational tools
  • Used as amuletes(for protective and spiritual purpose). Found with dead bodies and had a hole for wearing.

Terracotta Figures(Sculpture)

  • Fired/ Baked clay
  • These figures are hand made using pinching method
  • Mother goddess, toy carts with wheels, bird and animal figures

Bronze sculptures

  • Bronze casting was practised on wide scale under harappan art.
  • The technique used for casting is known as lost-wax technique
  • Under this technique, at first wax figures are covered with a coating of clay and allowed to dry. Then it is heated and molten wax is allowed to drain out through a tiny hole at the bottom of clay cover. The hallow mould is then filled with bronze or any other metal. Once the metal is cooled, the clay is removed.
  • Excavations where it was prevalent- Kalibangan, Daimabad, Harappa.
  • eg. Bronze dancing girl => It is naked girl wearing only ornaments which include bangles, armlets, necklace, amulets. The left hand is on the hip. It is made using lost wax technique.

Other stone sculpture

  • Bearded Priest
  • Male torso (Red sandstone>

Red and black pottery ( Painted pottery)

  • It consists of mainly, wheel-made. Very few are handmade.
  • The more common is plain pottery
  • Under red and black pottery, red color was used to paint the backgraound and black color to draw design of trees, birds, animals, human figures and other geomatrical patterns.

Use of pottery

  • For household purposes – storage of water, foodgrains etc.
  • For decoration – miniature vessels were used for decoration(Less than half inch)
  • Used as perforated pottery (Large hole at the bottom and small holes all over the wall and was probably used for straining liquor)


    • They are made of large variety of materials ranging from preceious metals, gemstones, bones and even baked clay
    • Necklaces, armlets and finger rings were common and worn by both males and females, While women wore ear-rings and anklets.
    • evidences of dead bodies buried along with ornaments have also been found
    • Harappans were also conscious of fashions as different hair styles, wearing of beard etc has been found
    • Cinnabar was used as cosmetic lipstick, face paint and even eye liner were all known to them
    • Spinning of cotton and wool were most common among harappans.

Extensive Town Planning

    • Houses were built of baked bricks, of fixed sizes
    • Use of stones and wood in building have also been found
    • the concept of 2 storied house was also present
    • Public bath was common feature. eg – Great bath at Mohan jodaro. It has galleries and rooms on all sides.
    • Granaries was another important creation which used to be located in citadels.
    • Drainage System of harappa was note worthy. There was temporary cover of drains, underground.
    • Roads used to cut at right angle

Mauryan Art

Mauryan Art is divided into 2 =>

  • Court Art – with state initiative eg. Pillars, stupas etc.
  • Popular art – With individual Initiatives eg. Caves, Sculptures and pottery


Mauryan Pillars

Mauryan Pillars

  • Mauryans Pillars have outside influence (Perisan or Iranian or Achaemenian influence) – Bell shaped capitals have been taken from Persian.
  • Mauryan Pillars were made up of Chunar sandstones
  • Uniformity can be seens in the pillars
  • Edicts are inscribed on pillars
  • Animals were bulls, galloping horses, lions , elephants etc.

Achaemanian Pillars versus Mauryan Pillars

  • Shaft monoliths in mauryan whereas in achaemanian pillars were made up of various pieces of sandstones.
  • Achaemanians pillara not independently erected, found in buildings
  • High polishing can be seen in both

Purpose of Pillars

  • as a symbol of the state
  • To commemorate victory – eg- Lauria Nandangarh – Champaran in Bihar, Sarnath Pillars near Varanasi.


Mauryan Stupa Structure

Mauryan Stupa2

  • It is conventional representation of funeral cunrulus, in which ashes of the dead are buried
  • It is a Buddhist monument which is hemi-spherical dome with Buddha’s relics and ashes inside
  • However the concept of stupas started in the vedic period
  • In Buddhist tradition, originally 9 stupas were built after the death of Buddha, 8 of them over his relics and ashes and 9th over the vessel in which the relics were originally deposited.
  • Core of stupas were made of unburnt bricks and outer surface with burnt brick covered with a thick layer of a plaster.
  • CHHATRAS represents TRIRATNAS(Buddha-enlightened, Dham – Doctrine, Sangha – Order) of Buddhism – They are umbrella shaped.
  • Sculpture can be seen on Torana and Medhi
  • Maximum number of stupas were constructed by King Ashoka – 84000
  • Examples of Stupas are – Sanchi Stupas built by Ashoka, Barhud Stupa By Shunga Dynasty, Oldest Stupa – Paprahawa in UP

Popular Art


    • The beginning of rock cut architecture. Two features were added by Mauryans-
        Polishing inside the cave
        Development of artistic Gateway
    • Examples = Barabar Cave(4) and Nagrajuni cave(near gaya)(3) – called 7 sisters

Uses of Caves
Caves were used as viharas in Mauryan Age. The viharas were given to Jain Monks – Ajeevikas.


  • Yaksh and Yakshini – Objects of worship in folk religion
  • Yaksh has been found at Parbham in UP and also Pawaya in Gwaliar
  • Yakshini found at Didarganj in Bihar
  • These figures are associated with all 3 religions – Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism.
  • In Buddhism, figures found on stupas
  • In Jainism – all 24 Jain Thirthankaras are associated with a Yakshini.
  • In Hinduism – A Tamil text ‘Shilpodiganam’ also mentions about Yakshini.


Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW)

  • Black color was used
  • Highly lusturous Polish
  • It is a luxury ware showing maturity
  • Highest level of pottery making

Take aways from Civil Services Examination – Mains 2013

Its being a long time since I wrote last post. So far, I was syncing in Failure of 2013 mains. Marks came out recently and everyone must be knowing their weaknesses. There is clear strategy told by Topper Gaurav Agarwal and that is working on your weaknesses.

One more thing I would like to add in that strategy and that is harness your strength as well. That is, while working over weakness, never lose your strength. Generally it is difficult to get over with habitual or behavioral weaknesses but easy to tackle tactical and strategical weaknesses. At age of us (average will be 27 years) , it is almost impossible to get over with behavioral weaknesses. Therefore, I am trying to identify tactical and strategical weaknesses and will chalk out strategies for getting over with those.

There was huge vulnerability of making strategical mistake in 2013 Mains esp in General studies since nobody knew the format of the papers. If you go through the marksheets of toppers, you will find a clear trend, marks in Essay and optional papers were decision makers. Rank 1 got only ~ 33% in GS papers. So if somebody did badly or average in optionals, you chances are gone for being in final list. It is like CSAT paper 2 of mains. If you score less than 150-160 in CSAT paper 2, you are gone even if you got 90+ in CSAT paper 1, where as someone with 180 in CSAT paper 2 with even 60 in CSAT 1 will be in the list.

One take away I took from 2013 mains is that optional paper matters most and you have to find a way to get minimum 50 to 60% in it to at least stay in the game. Marks in GS are very unpredictable but there is lesser chances of deviation from average marks whereas it is huge in optional papers.

I was disappointed from results but I am optimist and knowing the unpredictability of mains 2013, I do not see scope for living in despair. Hmmm…..Let us give it another try.


Halla Bol!

Foreign Policy – Definition and objectives

  • Definition – System of activities evolved by countries/ states for changing the behaviour of other states and adjusting their own activities according to international environment. It has definite objective and principles which are determined by domestic and international factors to achieve national interest.
  • Any of policy should be an adjunct to national policy objectives
    • aligned to domestic politics e.g. economic policy
    • Pre 1992 India voted more with USSR earlier. Post 1992, it is aligned to USA
  • Foreign policy is an instrument to protect and promote national interest of any country.
  • Foreign policy has to be dynamic because of vast changes in last 60 years eg. collapse of USSR, unification of Germany, birth of EU, rise of emerging economies etc. It also evolves because national interests also vary from time to time.

Objectives of foreign policy

  • Socio-economic
    • Getting help from developed countries eg. in 2nd FYP – Non alignment Movement, steel plants, setting up IITs
    • Partnership with USA for agriculture and education
    • PL-186 – USA help for food grains
    • BRICS
  • National Security
    • economic growth and development can not occur without protecting countries boundaries
  • Protecting and promoting countries ideological agenda
    • Normally it is not followed by India
    • eg. USA exports democracy – Egypt, Tunisia
    • India has good opportunities to do this in its neighborhood countries like  Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar
    • We never export our ideology as per Panchsheel we do not interfere in other countries
    • Our Foreign policy contains both Nehruvian and Gandhian ideas like non-violence, peace
  • Maintain communal harmony within India
    • India is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic
    • It has to take into account Tamils while dealing with Sri Lanka, Muslims with West Asia
  • Our Foreign Policy has regarded neighborhood and concentric circle around central axis of historic and cultural commonalities- buddhism, invasions, civilizational contacts – Iran, Egypt, SE Asia


  • India is not able utilize this much
  • Before independence, we have even geographical contacts with our extended neighbors
  • Though India does not just follow concentric circle theory eg. USA, Brazil, Venezuela etc are far away but it has made considerable progress in relations with them
  • Foreign policy has to be an integral part of larger effort of building nation’s capacities through economic development, strengthening social fabric, well being of the people and protecting our sovereignty and territorial integrity.


Civil Rebellions and Tribal Uprisings – snippets

The backbone of the rebellions, their mass base and striking power came from the rack-rented peasants, ruined artisans and demobilized soldiers.


  • The major cause of the civil rebellions was the rapid changes the British introduced in the economy, administration and land revenue system.
  • The revenues were enhanced by increasing taxes.
  • Thousands of zamindars and poligars lost control over their land and its revenue either due to the extinction of their rights by the colonial state or by the forced sale of their rights over land because of their inability to meet the exorbitant land revenue demanded
  • The economic decline of the peasantry was reflected in twelve major and numerous minor famines from 1770 to 1857.
  • The new courts and legal system gave a further fillip to the dispossessors of land and encouraged the rich to oppress the poor.
  • The police looted, oppressed and tortured the common people at will.
  • The ruin of Indian handicraft industries pauperized millions of artisans
  • The scholarly and priestly classes were also active in inciting hatred and rebellion against foreign rule.
  • Very foreign character of the British rule


  • From 1763 to 1856, there were more than forty major rebellions apart from hundreds of minor ones.
    • Sanyasi Rebellion: (1763-1800)
    • Chuar uprising (1766-1772 & 1795-1816); Rangpur and Dinajpur (1783); Bishnupur and Birbhum (1799); Orissa zamindars (1804-17) and Sambalpur (1827-40) and many others



  •  These rebellions were local in their spread and were isolated from each other.
  • They were the result of local causes and grievances, and were also localized  in their effects.
  • Socially, economically and politically, the semi-feudal leaders of these rebellions were backward looking and traditional in outlook.
  • The suppression of the civil rebellions was a major reason why the revolt of 1857 did not spread to South India and most of Eastern and Western India.


  • Santhals
  • Kols of Chhotanagpur (1820-37)
  • Birsa Munda (1899-1900)


  • The colonial administrators ended their relative isolation and brought them fully within the ambit of colonialism.
  • Introduced new system of land revenue and taxation of tribal products
  • Influx of Christian missionaries into the tribal areas
  • They could no longer practice shifting agriculture
  • Oppression and extortion by police officials
  • The complete disruption of the old agrarian order of the tribal communities provided the common factor for all the tribal uprisings

Revolt of 1857 – snippets

  • During the Governor-General Lord Canning
  • May 11, 1857. The Meerut incident. Capture of Delhi. Proclaiming B S jafar as the emperor.
  • Almost half the Company’s sepoy strength of 232224 opted out of their loyalty to their regimental colours.
  • Kanpur: Nana Saheb; Lucknow: Begum Hazrat Mahal; Bareilly: Khan Bahadur; Jagdishpur (Ara): Kunwar Singh; Jhansi: Rani Lakshmi Bai
  • Only the Madras army remained totally loyal. Sikh regiment as well remained largely loyal

Causes for the revolt

The revolt was a result of the accumulated grievances of the people against
Company’s administration and a loathing for the character and policies of the
colonial rule. The causes can be classified as social, economic, religious and

  • The conditions of service in the Company’s army and cantonments increasingly came into conflict with the religious beliefs and prejudices of the sepoys.
  • The unhappiness of the sepoys first surfaced in 1824 when the 47th Regiment of Barrackpur was ordered to go to Burma. To the religious Hindu, crossing the sea meant loss of caste. The sepoys refused. The regiment was disbanded and those who led the opposition were hanged.
  • The rumors about the Government’s secret designs to promote conversions to Christianity further exasperated the sepoys.
  • The greased cartridges.
  • They were also unhappy with the emoluments
  • Discrimination and racism
  • Misery brought to the peasants by the British rule. E.g. the land revenue system imposed in Oudh, where about 75000 sepoys came from, was very harsh.

Unfolding of revolt

  • After the capture of Delhi, a letter was issued to the neighboring states asking for support.
  • A court of administrators was established in Delhi
  • Ill-equipped, the rebels carried on the struggle for about a year
  • The country as a whole was not behind them. The merchants, intelligentsia and Indian rulers not only kept aloof but actively supported the British.
  • Almost half the Indian soldiers not only did not revolt but fought against their own countrymen.
  • Apart from a commonly shared hatred for alien rule, the rebels had no political perspective or definite vision of the future
  • Delhi fell on September 20, 1857.
  • Rani of Jhansi died fighting on June 17, 1858.
  • Nana Saheb escaped to Nepal hoping to revive the struggle.
  • Kunwar Singh died on May 9, 1958.
  • Tantia tope carried on guerrilla warfare until April 1959 after which he was betrayed by a zamindar, captured and put to death.

One exceptional speedy judgement in Criminal Case

Mumbai’s Special Session Court declared its judgement in Shakti Mill Case within 7 months. A photo journalist was raped by few yougesters including a juvenile. This has been possible only after amendments in CrPC last year. Criminal justice system is well known for its snail pace in
delivering justice to victims. This case has been an exception. Judgement in Delhi Gang rape case of a medical student in dec 2012 was also declared swiftly but due to extreme public pressure and media scrutiny. This incidence and subsequent protests all over country forced our law makers to amend CrPC and provide stricter punishment to sexual assailants. It is significant that the judge has sentenced the four convicts under Section 376D, which deals with gang rape, to the maximum punishment of imprisonment for the remainder of their natural life. Though Case is yet to decide on whether to use Section 376E which provides death sentence to repeated offenders.

This judgement will give hope to many sexually assaulted victims. There is a fair degree of certitude now that timely complaints and disclosures would help the police to undertake a proper investigation, while public opinion and activism keep the issue alive so that the case is not derailed at the trial stage. As the Shakti Mills trials demonstrate, the way forward is in fostering trust in the system of criminal administration by efficient investigation and speedy trials.

Priority Foreign Country – USA special 301 report

USA’s big pharma companies are lobbying for designating India as ‘priority foreign country’ in USA Trade representatives’ 2014 Special 301 report. This label is given to worst offenders of IPRs.
This can also result into some trade sanctions like withdrawing trade preferences from India’s export. This issue is adding tension on already strained India USA relations due to Devyani episode. Story got momentum last year when Supreme Court last year endorsed 2006 decision of Indian patent office denying patent to Novartis for slightly modified version of glivec, a cancer treating drug. In March 2012, government issued a compulsory licence to an Indian firm for a cancer drug, whose patent-holder, the German multinational Bayer, had priced it well beyond the reach of a majority of Indian patients. India has used special relaxations provided by TRIPS. Thus India has nothing to fear even if USA goes to WTO for dispute resolution in this regard. India has every right to safeguard its domestic commitment to public health.

Precis Writing

UPSC civil services mains examination has 2 compulsory language papers of 250 marks each. Both are qualifying in nature and their marks are not added in total marks which decide final ranking in the list of successful candidates. In fact if one fails to get minimum qualifying marks in these papers, all other papers are not evaluated. The toughness level of these papers have increased. Therefore, it is very important to prepare for these papers. There were 2 precis writing passages(60+40=100 marks) in English paper and 1 precis writing passage in Hindi paper( also other language papers).

This article’s focus is on Precis writing.

Precis is a french word that means pruning away all that is non essential.

“A precis is a brief, original summary of the important ideas given in a long selection. Its aim is to give the general effect created by the original selection.” It is a concise and lucid summary that forsakes all unnecessary details (including illustrations, amplifications, and embellishments) in favor of reproducing the logic, development,organization and emphasis of the original.”

Precis writing aims at intelligent reading and clear, accurate writing. It is a skill of both analysis and genesis that critically questions every thought included and excluded, each
word used to express those thoughts, and the proportions and arrangements of those thoughts — both in the original and in the precis.

What it is not

  • simply a summary of a passage.
  • simply an abstract of a passage.
  • an outline of a passage.
  • a mere selection of a few important sentences from a passage.
  • a collection of disconnected facts and statements.

Some guidelines of good precis

  • Understand the essential facts or dominating idea of the passage. If you do not get it in first reading read it once more. Also make note or underline important points.
  • In your opening sentence express what the passage tends to show.
  • With as few sentences as possible enlarge on the essential shown in the opening sentence.
  • Summarize only what the author says; do not add your own opinions.
  • As far as possible, use your own words.
  • It should have a logical order and be well-knit and well connected.
  • It must have coherence; must use linking devices such as so, therefore, and, because further etc. and should follow the order of ideas of the original.
  • Remove what is superfluous and retain the core essence of the work.
  • Compress and clarify a lengthy passage while retaining important concepts, key words, and important data
  • Prepare a rough draft and review it before writing in fair copy. Make sure there is no grammatical error or factual error while copying.
  • You should avoid expressing your own opinion, analysis or criticism in the precis.

Points to remember

  • one needs to convey the general idea of the argument with absolute clarity.
  • make sure that all the important points of the original passage are included in the precis.
  • make sure that the language of the précis is clear, crisp and concise, and follows the rule for correct diction.

Stem Cells – 2014 Updates


Those undifferentiated cells which have capability to produce other stem cells or differentiate into specialized cells are known as stem cells.
Use of stem cells holds promise for improving health by restoring cells and organs damaged due to degeneration or injury.

One landmark study about stem cells on ‘stimulus triggered acquisition of pluripotency’  was published in Nature in Jan 2014 which claimed to have reversed adult mice stem cells to their pluripotent state just by keeping the stem cell in mild acidic condition for 25 minutes at 37 C.
Publication of this paper created many controversies including charge of plagiarism and distortion of facts. There was charge of use of an image already attached in a doctored thesis of 2005.These events forced one of the author agreeing to withdraw the paper in March 2014.
Recently ICMR has released guidelines for stem cell therapies. Any therapy relating to stem cells will be considered as clinical trial.
In accordance with this stringent definition, every use of stem cells in patients outside an approved clinical trial shall be considered a malpractice.
A cogent mechanism is required to enforce adherence to guidelines.  It is hoped that this clear definition will serve to curb the malpractice of stem cell ‘therapy’ being offered as a new tool for curing untreatable diseases.

Issues relating to Stem Cell research:

There are many ethical, social and scientific issues attached to stem research cells. There is possibility of commodification of human cells,tissues and embryos. This may result in exploitation of underprivileged persons. There is ethical issues relating to human reproductive cloning as well.