Vaikom Muhammad Basheer

Vaikom Muhammad Basheer
Vaikom Muhammad Basheer

Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (19 January 1908 – 5 July 1994) was a Malayalam fiction writer from the state of Kerala in India. He was a humanist, freedom fighter, novelist and short story writer. He is noted for his path-breaking, disarmingly down-to-earth style of writing that made him equally popular among literary critics as well as the common man. He is regarded as one of the most successful and outstanding writers from India. Translations of his works into other languages have won him worldwide acclaim. His notable works include Balyakalasakhi, Shabdangal,Pathummayude Aadu, Mathilukal, Ntuppuppakkoranendarnnu, Janmadinam and Anargha Nimisham. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1982. He is fondly remembered as the Beypore Sultan.

Basheer, born in Thalayolaparambu (near Vaikom) Kottayam District. While at school he fell under the spell of Mahatma Gandhi.

He resolved to join the fight for an independent India, leaving school to do so while he was in the fifth form. Basheer was known for his perfectly secular attitude, and he treated all religions with respect.

Since there was no active independence movement in Travancore or Kochi – being princely states – he went to Malabar to take part in the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. His group was arrested before they could participate in the satyagraha. Basheer was sentenced to three months imprisonment and sent to Kannur prison. He became inspired by stories of heroism by revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, who were executed while he was in Kannur jail. Freed from prison, he organised an anti-British movement and edited a revolutionary journal, Ujjivanam (‘Uprising’).

He started working as an agent for the Sialkot sports company at Ernakulam. But he lost the agency when a bicycle accident incapacitated him temporarily. On recovering, he resumed his endless hunt for jobs. He walked into the office of a newspaper Jayakesari whose editor was also its sole employee. He did not have a position to offer, but offered to pay money if Basheer wrote a story for the paper. Thus Basheer found himself writing stories for Jayakesari and it was in this paper that his first story “Ente Thankam” (My Darling) was published in the year 1937. A path-breaker in Malayalam romantic fiction, it had its heroine a dark-complexioned hunchback. His early stories were published between 1937 and 1941 in Navajeevan, a weekly published in Trivandrum in those days.

He then made a career as a writer, initially publishing the works himself and carrying them to homes to sell them. He ran two bookstalls in Ernakulam, Circle Bookhouse and later, Basheer’s Bookstall.

He died in Beypore, on 5 July 1994. Basheer is fondly called as Beypore Sultan (Sultan of Beypore). Though his works have been translated to English and eighteen Indian languages, the peculiarity of the language he uses makes the translations lose a lot of sheen.

C. V. Raman

C V Raman
C V Raman

Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (7 November 1888 – 21 November 1970) was an Indian physicist born in the former Madras Province in India, who carried out ground-breaking work in the field of light scattering, which earned him the 1930 Nobel Prize for Physics. He discovered that when light traverses a transparent material, some of the deflected light changes in wavelength. This phenomenon, subsequently known as Raman scattering, results from the Raman effect. In 1954, India honoured him with its highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.

Raman’s father initially taught in a school in Thiruvanaikaval, became a lecturer of mathematics and physics in Mrs. A.V. Narasimha Rao College, Visakhapatnam  in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, and later joined Presidency College in Madras.

In 1917, Raman resigned from his government service after he was appointed the first Palit Professor of Physics at the University of Calcutta. At the same time, he continued doing research at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS),Calcutta, where he became the Honorary Secretary. Raman used to refer to this period as the golden era of his career.

On 28 February 1928, Raman led experiments at the IACS with collaborators, including K. S. Krishnan, on the scattering of light, when he discovered what now is called the Raman effect. A detailed account of this period is reported in the biography by G. Venkatraman. It was instantly clear that this discovery was of huge value. It gave further proof of the quantum nature of light. Raman had a complicated professional relationship with K. S. Krishnan, who surprisingly did not share the award, but is mentioned prominently even in the Nobel lecture. 

Raman spectroscopy came to be based on this phenomenon, and Ernest Rutherford referred to it in his presidential address to the Royal Society in 1929. Raman was president of the 16th session of the Indian Science Congress in 1929. He was conferred a knighthood, and medals and honorary doctorates by various universities.

He was the first Asian and first non-white to receive any Nobel Prize in the sciences. Before him Rabindranath Tagore (also Indian) had received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

Raman and Suri Bhagavantam discovered the quantum photon spin in 1932, which further confirmed the quantum nature of light.

Raman also worked on the acoustics of musical instruments. He worked out the theory of transverse vibration of bowed strings, on the basis of superposition velocities. He was also the first to investigate the harmonic nature of the sound of the Indian drums such as the tabla and the mridangam. He was also interested in the properties of other musical instruments based on forced vibrations such as the violin. He also investigated the propagation of sound in whispering galleries. Raman’s work on acoustics was an important prelude, both experimentally and conceptually, to his later work on optics and quantum mechanics.

Raman and his student, Nagendra Nath, provided the correct theoretical explanation for the acousto-optic effect (light scattering by sound waves), in a series of articles resulting in the celebrated Raman–Nath theory. Modulators, and switching systems based on this effect have enabled optical communication components based on laser systems.

He also started the company called Travancore Chemical and Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (now known as TCM Limited) which manufactured potassium chlorate for the match industry in 1943 along with Dr. Krishnamurthy. The Company subsequently established four factories in Southern India. In 1947, he was appointed as the first National Professor by the new government of Independent India.

In 1948, Raman, through studying the spectroscopic behaviour of crystals, approached in a new manner fundamental problems of crystal dynamics. He dealt with the structure and properties of diamond, the structure and optical behaviour of numerous iridescent substances (labradorite, pearly feldspar, agate, opal, and pearls). Among his other interests were the optics of colloids, electrical and magnetic anisotropy, and the physiology of human vision.

Raman retired from the Indian Institute of Science in 1948 and established the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, Karnataka, a year later. He served as its director and remained active there until his death in 1970, in Bangalore, at the age of 82.

Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru (14 November 1889 – 27 May 1964) was the first Prime Minister of India and a central figure in Indian politics before and after independence.

He emerged as the paramount leader of the Indian independence movement under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi and ruled India from its establishment as an independent nation in 1947 until his death in 1964. He is considered to be the architect of the modern Indian nation-state: a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic. He was also known as Pandit Nehru due to his roots with the Kashmiri Pandit community while many Indian children knew him as “Uncle Nehru“.

As Prime Minister, he set out to realise his vision of India. The Constitution of India was enacted in 1950, after which he embarked on an ambitious program of economic, social and political reforms. Chiefly, he oversaw India’s transition from a colony to a republic, while nurturing a plural, multi-party democracy. In foreign policy, he took a leading role in Non-Alignment while projecting India as a regional hegemon in South Asia.

Independence Day

First Independence day celebrations
First Independence day celebrations

Independence Day, is annually observed on 15 August for commemorating the nation’s independence from the British Empire on 15 August 1947.

India attained independence following an Independence Movement noted for largely nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience led by the Indian National Congress (INC).

Independence coincided with the partition of India, in which the British Indian Empire was divided along religious lines into the Dominions of India and Pakistan; the partition was accompanied by violent riots and mass casualties, and the displacement of nearly 15 million people due to sectarian violence.

News about Independence Day
News about Independence Day

On 15 August 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, who had become the first Prime Minister of India that day, raised the Indian national flag above the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort in Delhi. On each subsequent Independence Day, the prime minister has raised the flag and given a speech.

Independence day is observed throughout India with flag-hoisting ceremonies, parades and cultural events.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (5 September 1888 – 17 April 1975) was an Indian philosopher and statesman who was the first Vice President of India (1952–1962) and the second President of India from 1962 to 1967.

One of India’s most distinguished twentieth-century scholars of comparative religion and philosophy,  his academic appointments included the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta (1921–1932) and Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics at University of Oxford (1936–1952).

His philosophy was grounded in Advaita Vedanta, reinterpreting this tradition for a contemporary understanding. He defended Hinduism against “uninformed Western criticism”, contributing to the formation of contemporary Hindu identity. He has been influential in shaping the understanding of Hinduism, in both India and the west, and earned a reputation as a bridge-builder between India and the West.

Radhakrishnan was awarded several high awards during his life, including a knighthood in 1931, the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, in 1954, and honorary membership of the British Royal Order of Merit in 1963.

Radhakrishnan believed that “teachers should be the best minds in the country”. Since 1962, his birthday is celebrated in India as Teachers’ Day on 5 September.

Quit India Movement

Quit India Movement
Quit India Movement

Quit India Movement or the India August Movement was a civil disobedience movement launched at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee or more simply by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on 8 August 1942, during World War II, demanding an end to British Rule of India.

The Cripps Mission had failed, and on 8 August 1942, Gandhi made a call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech delivered in Mumbai at the Gowalia Tank Maidan. The All-India Congress Committee launched a mass protest demanding what Gandhi called “An Orderly British Withdrawal” from India.

Sporadic small-scale violence took place around the country and the British arrested tens of thousands of leaders, keeping them imprisoned until 1945.

In terms of immediate objectives Quit India failed because of heavy-handed suppression, weak co-ordination and the lack of a clear-cut programme of action. However, the British government realised that India was ungovernable in the long run due to the cost of World War II, and the question for postwar became how to exit gracefully and peacefully.

William Shakespeare

Shekespeare
Shekespeare

William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.

He is often called England’s national poet, and the “Bard of Avon“.

His extant works, including collaborations, consist of approximately 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were primarily comedies and histories, and these are regarded as some of the best work ever produced in these genres.

He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.

Bharat Ratna

Bharath Ratna- Peepal-leaf–shaped medallion
Peepal-leaf–shaped medallion

The Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India) is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India.
Instituted in 1954, the award is conferred “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order”, without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex.
The award was originally limited to achievements in the arts, literature, science, and public services, but the government expanded the criteria to include “any field of human endeavour” in December 2011.
The recommendations for the Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President, with a maximum of three nominees being awarded per year. Recipients receive a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a peepal-leaf–shaped medallion; there is no monetary grant associated with the award. Bharat Ratna recipients rank seventh in the Indian order of precedence.
The first recipients of the Bharat Ratna were politician C. Rajagopalachari, philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and scientist C. V. Raman, who were honoured in 1954.

Homi Jehangir Bhabha

Homi_Jehangir_Bhabha_1960s (1)

Homi Jehangir Bhabha was an Indian nuclear physicist, founding director, and professor of physics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Colloquially known as “father of the Indian nuclear programme”.

Bhabha was the founding director of two well-known research institutions, namely the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Trombay Atomic Energy Establishment  both sites were the cornerstone of Indian development of nuclear weapons which Bhabha also supervised as its director.