Corruption past and present

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 Few year’s back I asked my father about accepting gifts (read bribes), a ritual widely performed in Government Sectors. He looked rather diplomatic to the question, but answered like a historian, he said, “Well, you see there is a historical basis for this. When the English were our masters, they used to give backshish, a gift for some favor, or even a kind of reward for a job nicely done. Eventually this became the practice, since our Civil Service owes a lot to the English; somehow this unwanted practice entered our system.” read more

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The Second battle of Panipat

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Lets begin with the a brief introduction of what happened before the battle. After the death of Babur the first Mughal emperor (in 1531 CE) Humayun ascended the throne of Delhi. A very learned man spent a lot of his time in royal library, but not a great ruler, as a consequence Sher Shah (the Afghan) drove him out of Delhi and sent him to exile in Persia. Sher Shah was so powerful ruler that the Mughals didn’t even think of attacking India while he was alive. But after the death of Sher Shah (in 1545 CE) the Suri dynasty crumbled to its feet, Humayun seeing a chance to occupy Delhi again marched with all his troops from Persia and was successful in capturing Delhi. But his glory was short lived as he died few months after in 1556 CE, leaving Delhi again unprotected. Bairam Khan the trusted general of Humayun, enthroned Akbar as the new ruler, and remained his guardian. However even after Akbar’s accession to the throne, the danger for the Mughals was not completely eliminated, that was the time of high conspiracies going all around. The battle between Afghans and Mughals to rule India gained a new height now, Sikander Shah Suri the Afghan ruler of Punjab often imposed a big threat to Akbar, hence leaving Delhi in the hands of Tardi Beg (a general in Mughal army) Akbar went to sack Sikander in Punjab. read more

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St. John’s Church Calcutta

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Like all great cities of the World, Calcutta has a history of its own, which can date back to time unknown, but for the sake of the topic we shall focus on the Company era when this city gained new momentum and became one of the greatest cities outside Europe. It is exciting to think how, a bunch of explorers and adventurers hailing from a distant island thousands of miles away made this new city their new home. Home I call it, since with the spread of English supremacy in the Indian subcontinent series of constructions across the city shaped it like New England. Constructions included Trade centers, office buildings, residential buildings, clubs, and forts and of course Churches. Today the English buildings   stand more than a relic; they are now occupied by Indians who use English Language in day to day official correspondence.  They still stand tall, although every nook and corner of these buildings has a story to tell, but most of it is left forgotten and suppressed in the daily rush. If it is people’s job to forget the heritage of these magnificent structures, it is my sacred duty to remind them of its formers glory. read more

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The Great Khan, Genghis Khan

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In his time, he was the most dreaded and dangerous man on Earth, he called himself “the punishment of God”.  His unimaginable leadership quality formed an Empire which the World had never seen, an Empire running from Eastern Europe to the Sea of Japan, covering Siberia in the North, Middle East and the Indian subcontinent in the South. That is two times the area conquered by Alexander the Great and four times the Roman Empire at best.   His merciless and loyal band of soldiers slaughtered everything which came in their way men, women, children, and even animals. It all started all most 800 years ago when a young boy was born to a Mongol tribal leader with blood clot in his hand, a sign of becoming a great conqueror and as the boy grew to a man, he became the “Great Khan”, or Chinghis Khan. read more

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The story of Fort St. George Chennai

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In those times a well travelled person was the most sought after man in the country. His publicity surpassed even the Queen or the King of the country. He would be invited in parties, probably entertained a private dinner with the King to discuss all that he saw and experienced in his journeys. Take the case of Vasco Da Gama for instance, his visit to India became a legend, told and retold with irrepressible zeal and passion. However little do we know that he landed on India with a band of convicts, unpardonable prisoners who were in plain terms guinea pigs of a new experiment that Europe was undertaking- the exploration of the East. To sum up this paragraph, Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese who landed on Calicut, a hundred years later the Dutch were here, and close on the heels of the Dutch the English landed. read more

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Banking in Mughal India

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INTRODUCTION TO THE TRADE IN MUGHAL EMPIRE

The Mughal Empire was one of the biggest centres of attraction for trade and commerce all over the World. There were great flourishing trade centres in Lahore, Agra, Ahmadabad, Sironj, Berhampore, Dhaka, Patna, Benares, Golconda, Deccan, Bijapur, and Daulatabad. Trade routes crisscrossed the country, the vibrant trade route of Surat-Agra passed through Sironj and Burhanpur. In fact Burhanpur had trade connections with Iran, Turkey, Russia, Poland, Arabia, and Egypt.[1] A detailed map of all these places is given below for reference. Surat and Cambay were two prosperous ports in Gujarat which connected Mughal India with the markets of Asia and Europe. These urban centres of trade contributed about 19% to Mughal tax revenue. read more

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Jesuits and Akbar

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The bustling coastal city of Goa suddenly filled with talks of the arrival of Mughal messengers to the Archbishops and the Provincial of Jesuits. In September 1579, the messengers handed over a letter from the Great Mughal, which read, “I am sending Abdullah, my ambassador, and Dominic Perez, with the request that you will send me two learned Fathers, and the books of Law, especially the Gospel, that I may know the law and its excellence. For I desire to know it. I beg therefore earnestly that they may come with these envoys, and bring the books of Law….let them come in perfect security, I take their defence on myself.” The Jesuits were overjoyed about this royal invitation, although sending volunteers for this remarkable trip was full of danger yet this was a glorious opportunity to spread the word of Jesus into the den of Islam in India. The three Jesuits, ’appointed to death’ was Father Rudolf Aquaviva, Father Anthony Monteserrat, and Father Henriquez. read more

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Seven Maharanis of India

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We will touch a different topic , and since we love history this will be a page from an almost forgotten chapter of Indian History. In the days of democracy, monarchy appears a closed and forgotten episode, it of course is, however we are not completely oblivious about the splendor connected with it. If this had been be the case, the palaces, gardens of the famous monarchs would be least visited place by tourists but that is clearly not the thing. Today we will not talk about battles, and the men who fought them, we will not talk about weapons and who used them, but about the ladies who roamed in the majestic corridors of opulence and authority. Today we will talk about the Maharanis, and Princesses of India.  read more

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The fall of Seringapatam, the end of the final enemy

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I have discussed the background to this war in a former article, now this entire discussion about the battle is going to be pretty long.  I have also narrated that three armies from three sides were marching into Seringapatam to hunt down Tipu. Here we will elaborate the armies and the general plan of attack in little detail. The general plan of the campaign was for the principal army to assemble at Vellore, proceed up the valley of the Palar to Vaniyambadi and then make for the Palacode pass, Rayakottai and Kelamangalam from which place it was to advance on Serinagapatam by the best available route. The Bombay Army under General Stuart was to assemble at Cannore to advance and take post at Sedaseer eight to ten miles west of Periyapatamon the road from Cannore to Seringapatam, and from there advance to the fort to assemble with the Grand Army. [i] read more

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The siege of Serringapatam

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If Lord Clive laid the foundation stone of East India’s Company’s strong bastion in Bengal, the Wellesley brothers were the architect of the Company’s expansion in India. They constructed the Manhattan of British Empire in India on the theory that Clive had exposed, the latter had shown the weak state of India rulers. In pen and paper the Company was a puny army, but on the field it was something extraordinary capable of routing any attack and competent to face any enemy on the face of India. The Company soon had become a real power in India that no ruler could neglect, and this was the basis for bringing in the most important arrangement that speeded the British expansion in India. The Subsidiary Alliance brought in by Richard Wellesley was an arrangement between the weak and strong. It was something beyond just “protection money” it was a speedy way to accelerate the expansion. If a native state became a part of the alliance they would not be required to maintain an independent force, they would be automatically under Company protection, but not for free, only after payment of an annual “maintenance fee”, and if the native states failed to pay the cash, their lands would be confiscated. Such This way the Company annexed, Hyderabad, Mysore, Tanjore, Awadh, Peshwa, Scindhia, Gaewkad, and so on.  Richard Wellesley (known as The Earl of Mornington from 1781 until 1799) devised the plan and it was his Brother Arthur Wellesley’s  (later Duke of Wellington)task to execute it, and he did it with amazing skill. read more

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