Cabinet approves MoU between India and Viet Nam on Joint issue of postage stamp

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the joint issue of a postage stamp between Department of Posts and Viet Nam Post.

Department of Posts, Ministry of Communications and Viet Nara Post mutually agreed to jointly issue Postage Stamps on India-Viet Nam: Joint Issue on the theme “Ancient Architecture”.

The joint stamps were released on 25-01-2018.

About Sanchi Stupa:

When was it built: Commissioned in 3rd century BCE, Expansion/ additions/restoration works/ made in different periods.

Who built it: Commissioned by Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Dynasty.

Where is it located: Located 46 km north-east of Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh, India.

Architectural Style: Buddhist Art and Architecture.

Other facts: It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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BJP to celebrate Bankim Chandra

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal will celebrate Bengali author Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, who wrote the national song Vande Mataram, rather than Rabindranath Tagore. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said there is nothing new about Tagore to celebrate.

Bankim Chandra- important contributions:

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote the national song Vande Mataram.

The 19th-century author’s novel Anandamath — which was set in the background of the Sanyashi Bidroho (the rebellion of monks in the late 18th century) — is considered to be one of key works on Bengal’s nationalism.

His first Bengali fiction is called ‘Durgeshnondini’ published in 1865.

He also wrote other famous novels like Kapalkundala in 1866, Mrinalini in 1869, Vishbriksha in 1873, Chandrasekhar in 1877, Rajani in 1877, Rajsimha in 1881 and Devi Chaudhurani in 1884. He brought out a monthly magazine called Bangadarshan in 1872.

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Golconda’s Bagh-e-Naya Qila

In another instance of modern technology coming to the aid of medieval heritage, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will be using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to map the contours of the area around the Bagh-e-Naya Qila excavated garden inside the Golconda Fort. It has roped in the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) to carry out the mapping.

About Bagh-e-Naya Qila:

The Naya Qila garden inside Golconda Fort was built by successive rulers of the Deccan and is one of the few symmetrical gardens extant.

There are strange figures and animals worked out of stone and stucco on the walls of the outer fort facing the Naya Qila.

In 2014, when the ASI excavated the area after diverting the water flow, it discovered water channels, settlement tanks, walkways, fountains, gravity pumps, and a host of other garden relics.

Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR): Is a geophysical method that uses radar pulses to image the subsurface. This non-destructive method uses electromagnetic radiation in the microwave band (UHF/VHF frequencies) of the radio spectrum and detects the reflected signals from subsurface structures.

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) uses a high-frequency radio signal that is transmitted into the ground and reflected signals are returned to the receiver and stored on digital media. The computer measures the time taken for a pulse to travel to and from the target which indicates its depth and location. The reflected signals are interpreted by the system and displayed on the unit’s LCD panel.

GPR can have applications in a variety of media, including rock, soil, ice, fresh water, pavements, and structures. In the right conditions, practitioners can use GPR to detect subsurface objects, changes in material properties, and voids and cracks.

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The festival is celebrated on April 13 every year and on April 14 once in 36 years. On this day, the sun enters Mesh (Aries) sun sign and hence it is also called as ‘Mesha Sankranti’. The day is celebrated across India with different names and rituals such as Pahela Baishakh (Bengali New Year), Bihu (Assamese New Year), Kerala (Vishu) and Puthandu (Tamil New Year). This year it is celebrated on April 14.

About Baisakhi:

The word is derived from ‘Baisakh’, which is the second month of the Sikh calendar (Nanakshahi calendar). It signifies a new year of harvest for the community.

The festival is primarily a thanksgiving day when farmers pay tribute to their deity for the harvest and pray for prosperity in future.

Sikhs follow a tradition named Aawat Pauni on Vaisakhi. People gather to harvest wheat that grew in the winter. Drums are played and people recite Punjabi Doha (couplet) to the tune while harvesting on Baisakhi day.

Baisakhi also marks the birth of Khalsa, the collective body of all initiated Sikhs, also called the “Guru Panth”– the embodiment of the Guru. On March 30 in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh gathered his followers at his home in Anandpur Sahib, a city which is now home to several Gurdwaras. At this gathering, Khalsa was inaugurated.

The five ‘K’s are the five principles of life that are to be followed by a true Khalsa. These include ‘Kesh’ or hair, which implies to leave the hair uncut to show acceptance towards the form that God intended humans to be in; ‘Kangha’ or wooden comb, as a symbol of cleanliness; the third of the marks of being a Sikh pronounced on Baisakhi day was ‘Kara’ or iron bracelet, as a mark to remind a Khalsa of self-restraint; ‘Kacchera’ or knee-length shorts, to be worn by a Khalsa for always being ready to enter battle on horseback; and ‘Kirpan’, a sword to defend oneself and the poor, the weak and the oppressed from all religions, castes and creeds.

The festival of Baisakhi is celebrated amongst farmers as the festival of harvest. The month of April is considered as the harvesting time for the Rabi Crops, the crops which are sown during winter seasons.

Since the photoperiod becomes larger, the short day plants start to flower and give fruits and grains, which are now ready to be harvested. Therefore, the farmers gear up in their fields and start harvesting the crops.

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Rare Dance Panel At Tiruchi

A rare dance panel of Nayak period and an inscribed pillar of Chola period have been found on an abandoned brick mound at Pathalapettai near Kiliyur in Tiruchi.

The dance panel:

The dance panel is depicted on a stone slab that measures 1.21 metres in length and 33 centimetres in height.

Four pairs of well dressed male and female dancers, holding some object in one of their hands, are seen engaged in a ritualistic dance in the panel. Three pairs are shown hugging each other while the last pair is dancing keeping a distance between.

All of them are decked with ornaments and different headgears. The female deity with a flower in the right hand seen between the first two pairs and the pot depicted between the last two pairs denote the ritualistic nature of the dance.

The pillar found at the spot has an inscribed base. The base has a Tamil inscription of Chola palaeography with a few Grantha letters used in between. Though seven lines are visible, the last two are not readable. The inscription records that a certain Rejaladeviyar Sativinjey, queen of Iladevayan, had gifted that pillar. A sketchy figure of a Mugalinga is seen sculpted on the first half of the pillar, suggesting its conversion into a Linga.


It is one of the Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature according to later Tamil literary tradition. A poet-prince from Kodungallur near Kochi referred to by the pseudonym Ilango Adigal, is credited with this work.

The epic revolves around Kannagi, who had lost her husband to a miscarriage of justice at the court of the Pandyan Dynasty, wreaks her revenge on his kingdom.

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Satyagraha se Swachhagraha

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, will address 20,000 Swachhagrahis in Motihari, East Champaran district of Bihar. The event is the culmination of a weeklong “Satyagraha se Swachhagraha” campaign run in Bihar from 3rd April onwards. At this event, associated with the clarion call “Chalo Champaran”, the Prime Minister will also award ten Swachhagrahis who have performed outstandingly in their villages. Chief Minister of Bihar and Union Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation will also be present at this event. In addition to addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister will also inaugurate new initiatives of the Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Namami Gange in Bihar.

Mahatma Gandhi launched the Champaran Satyagraha over a century ago, on 10th April 1917, to give the country free from foreign rule. April 10th, 2018 marks the end of the centenary year celebrations of the Champaran Satyagraha and is going to be celebrated through the “Satyagraha se Swachhagraha” campaign, which is aimed at achieving freedom from filth.

To commemorate this landmark, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in coordination with the Government of Bihar, is working to spread the message of Swachhata across the country by initiating the “Satyagraha se Swachhagraha” campaign, from 3rd to 10th April.

About Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin:

Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Gramin, launched on October 2, 2014, by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, is the largest behaviour change campaign ever attempted in the field of sanitation in the world. It aims to build an ODF (Open Defecation Free) and Swachh Bharat by October 2, 2019, as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.

India is witnessing a sanitation revolution with the number of people in rural India, practising open defecation having fallen from 55 crores in October 2014 to 20 crores by April 2018. Sanitation has been proven, by various independent studies, to have a positive economic as well as health impact on families in rural India.

Under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), 6.7 crore toilets have been built, 3.5 lakhs villages and over 360 districts, and 14 States and UTs have already been declared ODF. A recent survey conducted by an Independent Verification Agency across 90,000 households in over 6000 villages has found the rural toilet coverage to be 77% and the usage of these toilets to be 93.4%. The progress is accelerating every day and the Mission is on track to achieve an ODF India before October 2nd, 2019.

About the Champaran Satyagraha:

It was undertaken in the erstwhile undivided Champaran district in northern Bihar. Mahatma Gandhi went there in April 1917 on learning about the abuses suffered by the cultivators of the district, forced into growing indigo by British planters/estate owners.

Even Gandhi was reluctant to commit himself to task in the beginning. But he was so thoroughly persuaded by Rajkumar Shukla, an indigo cultivator from Champaran that he decided to investigate into the matter.

Gandhi’s method of inquiry at Champaran was based on surveys by the volunteers. The respondents who willingly gave statements should sign the papers or give thumb impressions.

For those unwilling to participate, the reasons must be recorded by the volunteers. The principal volunteers in this survey were mostly lawyers like Babu Rajendra Prasad, Dharnidhar Prasad, Gorakh Prasad, Ramnawami Prasad, Sambhusaran and Anugraha Narain Sinha.

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Paika Bidroha’ to be named as 1st War of Independence

The ‘Paika Bidroha’ (Paika rebellion) of 1817 will find a place in the history books as ‘the First War of Independence’ from the next academic session, according to HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar.

Mr. Javadekar had first made the announcement on Sunday here at a function to mark the bicentenary of the Paika rebellion, and added that the Centre has allocated Rs. 200 crore for commemorating it across the country.

Paika rebellion:

Paikas were peasant militia under the Gajapati rulers of Odisha who rendered military service to the king during times of war.

The Paika Rebellion also called the Paika Rebellion was an armed rebellion against the British East India Company’s rule in Odisha in 1817.

The Paikas rose in rebellion under their leader Bakshi JagabandhuIt projected Lord Jagannath as the symbol of Odia unity.

The rebellion quickly spread across most of Odisha before being ruthlessly put down by the company’s forces

About Paikas:

The Paikas were the traditional landed militia of Odisha.

They served as warriors and were charged with policing functions during peacetime.

The Paikas were organised into three ranks distinguished by their occupation and the weapons they wielded.

With the conquest of Odisha by the East India Company in 1803 and the dethronement of the Raja of Khurda began the fall of the power and prestige of the Paikas.

Causes of the rebellion

The Paika rebellion had several social, economic and political reasons

The Paikas were alienated by the British regime, who took over the hereditary rent-free lands granted to them after the conquest of Khurda.

They were also subjected to extortion and oppression at the hands of the company government and its servants.

Had conciliatory measures been adopted towards the Paikas from the beginning, it is possible that they would have become a source of strength to the company rule in Odisha.

The extortionist land revenue policy of the company affected the peasants and the zamindars alike.

A source of much consternation for the common people was the rise in prices of salt due to taxes imposed on it by the new government.

The company also abolished the system of cowrie currency that had existed in Odisha prior to its conquest and required that taxes be paid in silver.

This caused much popular hardship and discontent. In 1804 the Raja of Khurda planned a rebellion against the British in alliance with the Paikas, but the plot was soon discovered and the Raja’s territory confiscated.

Outcome and impact:

In May 1817, the British posted judges to Khurda to sentence the captured rebels.

The rebels were awarded sentences of death, transportation and long-term imprisonment.

Between 1818 and 1826, the company’s forces undertook combing operations in the jungles of Khurda to capture and put to death rebels who had managed to escape. In these operations numerous Paikas were killed.

Their leader, Jagabandhu, surrendered to the British in 1825 and lived as their prisoner in Cuttack until 1829, when he died.

On capturing Puri, Jagabandhu had offered to reinstate Raja Mukunda Deva – whom the British had dethroned in 1804 and exiled to Puri – as the Raja of Khurda.

Although he turned down the offer and asked for British assistance, he was arrested when the British retook the town and was imprisoned at Cuttack.

The Raja died a British prisoner in November, 1817.

The East India Company also appointed a commission to inquire into the causes of the rebellion.

The British set about reorienting their administration under the newly appointed Commissioner of Cuttack Robert Ker to ensure such a rebellion would not repeat itself.

These attempts remained halfhearted at best, the British viewing Odisha largely as a convenient land link between their presidencies of Madras and Bengal.

Odisha continued to be wracked by localised insurgencies including at Tapanga in 1827 and the Banapur Rebellion of 1835.

The revenue policies of the company in Odisha, which was a major cause of hardship to the people, remained unchanged.

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International Conference on Dialogue of Civilizations – IV

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Ministry of Culture, Government of India, in collaboration with National Geographic Society is hosting an international conference on “Dialogue of Civilizations – IV” from 8th – 15th October 2017 at Delhi, Gandhinagar and Dholavira.

This conference is fourth in this series of ‘dialogues’ initiated by National Geographic Society in 2013 with an objective to encourage scholarly and public discourse about the five ancient, literate civilizations of the world, i.e. Egypt, Mesopotamia, South Asia, China and Mesoamerica and how the study of the past can shape our present and future towards the right direction.

The first conference of this series was inaugurated in Guatemala in 2013 followed by Turkey in 2014 and China in 2015. The present conference is the fourth in this series, with the final dialogue planned in Egypt.

The inaugural function was followed by a lecture by Prof. B.B. Lal, Padma Bhushan awardee on ‘Harappan Civilization’, which introduced the earliest civilization of South Asia to the scholars working on other ancient civilizations and others.  The lecture of Prof. B.B. Lal traced the Harappan Civilization and its history of discovery and highlighting on town planning, agriculture and animal husbandry, art objects, crafts, trade, both internal and external, script, disposal of dead, religion, political set up.  He gave a brief account of all these aspects.

Besides, Prof. Lal also briefed on some of the new breaking news, and some unique features which are not found from other parts of the world. For example, he highlighted on the earliest ploughed field from Kalibangan in Rajasthan; evidence of earliest datable earthquake from Kalibangan (Rajasthan); earliest dockyard of the world which was found at Lothal (Gujarat); unique water management system that has been found at Dholavira (Gujarat).

Prof. Lal also talked about the evolution of Harappan Civilization and traced its history to the indigenous cultures only and not from any external influences. Prof. Lal tried to emphasize on the authorship of the Harappan civilization and he presented evidence related to, and while stating this he concludes that it is high time that the Aryan Invasion Theory has to be written off.

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