Zakir Husain

Zakir Hussain
Zakir Hussain

Zakir Husain (8 February 1897 – 3 May 1969) was the 3rd President of India, from 13 May 1967 until his death on 3 May 1969. An educator and intellectual, Husain was the country’s first Muslim president, and also the first to die in office. He was also the shortest serving President of India. He previously served as Governor of Bihar from 1957 to 1962 and as  Vice President of India from 1962 to 1967.

Husain, then only 23, was among the small group of students and teachers who founded a National Muslim University, first founded in Aligarh on Friday 29 October 1920 then shifted to Karol Bagh, New Delhi in 1925, then after shifted again on 1 March 1935 in Jamia Nagar, New Delhi and named it Jamia Millia Islamia (a central university). He subsequently went to Germany to obtain a PhD from the Frederick William University of Berlin in Economics. While in Germany, Husain was instrumental in bringing out the anthology of arguably the greatest Urdu poet Mirza Assadullah Khan “Ghalib” (1797–1868).

He returned to India to head the Jamia Millia Islamia which was facing closure in 1927. He continued in that position for the next twenty-one years providing academic and managerial leadership to an institution that was intimately involved with India’s struggle for freedom from the British Rule and experimented with value-based education on the lines advocated by Mahatma Gandhi and Hakim Ajmal Khan. During this period he continued to engage himself with movements for educational reforms in India and was particularly active in the affairs of his old alma mater the MAO College, now the Aligarh Muslim University.

Soon after India attained independence, Husain agreed to be the Vice chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University which was facing trying times in post partition India because of active involvement of a section of its teachers and students in the movement for creation of Pakistan. Dr. Husain, again, provided leadership during a critical phase of the history of the University at Aligarh from 1948–1956. Soon after completing his term as Vice Chancellor he was nominated as a member of the Upper House of Indian Parliament in 1956, a position he vacated in 1957 to become Governor of the State of Bihar.

After serving as the Governor of Bihar from 1957 to 1962, and as the second Vice President of India from 1962 to 1967, Husain was elected President of India on 13 May 1967. In his inaugural speech, he said that the whole of India was his home and all its people were his family. During his last days, the issue of nationalization of banks was being hotly debated. The bill, in the end, received presidential consent from Mohammad Hidayatullah, (acting president) on 9 August 1969.

During his presidential tenure, Zakir Husain led four state visits to Hungary, Yugoslavia, USSR and Nepal.

He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, in 1963

Morarji Desai

Morarji Desai
Morarji Desai

Morarji Desai(29 February 1896 – 10 April 1995) was an Indian independence activist and the Prime Minister of India from 1977 to 1979. He was also the first Prime Minister to head India’s first non-Congress Government. He held many important posts in the Government of India such as: Chief Minister of Bombay State, Home Minister, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India.

On the international scene, Desai holds international fame for his peace activism and made efforts to initiate peace between two rival South Asian states, Pakistan and India. After India’s first nuclear explosion in 1974, Desai helped restore friendly relations with China and Pakistan, and vowed to avoid armed conflict such as Indo-Pakistani war of 1971. Domestically, he played a crucial role in the Indian nuclear program after it was targeted by major nuclear powers after conducting a surprise test in 1974. Morarji Desai closed down much of India’s premier intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), and reduced its budget and operations.

Desai remains the only Indian national to be conferred with Pakistan’s highest civilian award, Nishan-e-Pakistan, which was conferred on him by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1990 in a colorful ceremony. Later, his policies promoted social, health and administrative reforms in the country. It is rumored that he was a mole of CIA in Indira Gandhi led cabinet. He also revealed the R&AW is well aware of Pakistan’s Nuclear activity in Kahuta to the Pakistani general Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in a telephonic conversation, killing all agents of R&AW.

In retirement, he lived in Mumbai and died in 1995 at the age of 99. He was much honoured in his last years as a freedom-fighter of his generation.

 

Dr. Rajendra Prasad

Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Dr.  Rajendra Prasad

Rajendra Prasad ( 3 December 1884 – 28 February 1963) was the first President of the Republic of India. An Indian political leader, lawyer by training, Prasad joined the Indian National Congress during the Indian independence movement and became a major leader from the region of Bihar. A supporter of Mahatma Gandhi, Prasad was imprisoned by British authorities during the Salt Satyagraha of 1931 and the Quit India movement of 1942. Prasad served one term as President of the Indian National Congress from 1934 to 1935. After the 1946 elections, Prasad served as minister of food and agriculture in the central government. Upon independence in 1947, Prasad was elected president of the Constituent Assembly of India, which prepared the Constitution of India and served as its provisional parliament.

When India became a Republic in 1950, Prasad was elected its first President by the Constituent Assembly. Following the general election of 1951, he was elected President by the electoral college of the first Parliament of India and its state legislatures. As President, Prasad established a tradition of non-partisanship and independence for the office-bearer, and retired from Congress party politics. Although a ceremonial head of state, Prasad encouraged the development of education in India and advised the Nehru government on several occasions. In 1957, Prasad was re-elected to the presidency, becoming the only president to have been in the office twice.

Prasad acted independently of politics, following the expected role of the president as per the constitution. Following the tussle over the enactment of the Hindu Code Bill, he took a more active role in state affairs. In 1962, after serving twelve years as the president, he announced his decision to retire. After relinquishing the office of the President of India on May 1962, he returned to Patna on 14 May 1962 and preferred to stay in the campus of Bihar Vidyapeeth. He was subsequently awarded the Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian award.

He died on 28 February 1963. Rajendra Smriti Sangrahalaya in Patna is dedicated to him.

Judiciary of India

The Indian Judiciary administers a common law system of legal jurisdiction, in which customs, precedents and legislation, all codify the law of the land. It has in fact, inherited the legacy of the legal system established by the then colonial powers and the princely states since the mid-19th century, and has partly retained characteristics of practices from the ancient  and medieval times.

There are various levels of judiciary in India – different types of courts, each with varying powers depending on the tier and jurisdiction bestowed upon them. They form a strict hierarchy of importance, in line with the order of the courts in which they sit, with the Supreme Court of India at the top, followed by High Courts of respective states with district judges sitting in District Courts and Magistrates of Second Class and Civil Judge (Junior Division) at the bottom.

RANKING OF JUDGES IN STATE

  • Chief Justice Of High Court
  • Addl.Justice/Registrar General
  • Subordinate Justice
  • District Judge
  • Add.District Judge (A.D.J)
  • S.P.L Judge
  • Session/Criminal Judge
  • Sub -Divisional Magistrate (S.D.M)
  • Chief Judicial Magistrate(C.J.M)
  • Addl. Chief Judicial Magistrate(A.C.J.M)
  • Civil Judge (Sr.Division)
  • Secretary Magistrate
  • Judicial Magistrate
  • Judge(Jr.Division)

Indian Navy

Indian Navy crest
Indian Navy crest

The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India serves as Supreme Commander of the Indian Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), usually a four-star officer in the rank of Admiral, commands the navy. The Indian Navy is the fifth largest in the world. It played an important role in India’s victory in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.

The Indian Navy can trace its lineage back to the East India Company’s Marine which was founded in 1612 to protect British merchant shipping in the region. In 1793 the East India Company established its rule over eastern part of the Indian subcontinent i.e. Bengal, but it was not until 1830 that the colonial navy became known as Her Majesty’s Indian Navy. In 1858, East India Company rule gave way to the British Raj which lasted until India became independent in 1947. When India became a republic in 1950, the Royal Indian Navy as it had been named since 1934 was renamed to Indian Navy. The 17th-century Maratha emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is considered as the ‘Father of the Indian Navy’.

The primary objective of the navy is to secure the nation’s maritime borders; India also uses its navy to enhance its international relations through joint exercises, port visits and humanitarian missions, including disaster relief. In recent years, the Indian Navy has undergone rapid modernisation to replace its ageing equipment currently in service, this is often seen as part of “India’s drive” to develop blue-water capabilities and enhance its position in the Indian Ocean region.

As of 2016, the Indian Navy has a strength of 79,023 personnel and a large operational fleet consisting of two aircraft carriers, one amphibious transport dock, eight landing ship tanks, 11 destroyers, 14 frigates, one nuclear-powered attack submarine, one ballistic missile submarine, 13 conventionally-powered attack submarines, 24 corvettes, six mine countermeasure vessels, 27 patrol vessels, four fleet tankers and various other auxiliary vessels.

The Indian Navy operates three Commands. Each Command is headed by a Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the rank of Vice Admiral. The Eastern and Western Commands each have a Fleet commanded by a rear admiral, and each also have a Commodore commanding submarines. The Southern Naval Command is home to the Flag Officer Sea Training.

Additionally, the Andaman and Nicobar Command headquartered at Port Blair is a unified tri-services command under the Commander in Chief Andaman and Nicobar (CINCAN) who reports to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) who is provided staff support by the Chief of Integrated Staff to the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) in New Delhi. The Andaman and Nicobar Command, a unified Indian Navy, Indian Army Indian Air Force and Coast Guard Command was set up in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2001.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

NASA logo
NASA logo

President Dwight D. Eisenhower established NASA in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

Since that time, most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.

NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic spacecraft missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

Parliament of India

The Parliament of India is the supreme legislative body of the Republic of India. The Parliament is composed of the President of India and the houses. It is bicameral with two houses: Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The President in his role as head of legislature has full powers to summon and prorogue either house of Parliament or to dissolve Lok Sabha. The president can exercise these powers only upon the advice of the Prime Minister and his Union Council of Ministers.

Those elected or nominated (by the President) to either house of Parliament are referred to as members of parliament (MP). The Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha are directly elected by the Indian public voting in Single-member districts and the Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha are elected by the members of all the State Legislative Assembly by proportional representation. The Parliament has a sanctioned strength of 545 in Lok Sabha including the 2 nominees from the Anglo-Indian Community by the president and 245 in Rajya Sabha including the 12 nominees from the expertise of different fields of science, culture, art and history. The Parliament meets at Sansad Bhavan in New Delhi.

Parliament House

 Sansad Bhavan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi,

Sansad Bhavan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi,

The Sansad Bhavan (Parliament House) is located in New Delhi. It was designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, who were responsible for planning and construction of New Delhi. The construction of buildings took six years and the opening ceremony was performed on 18 January 1927 by the then Governor-General of India, Irwin. The construction costs for the building were ₹8.3 million (US$120,000). The parliament is 560 feet (170 m) in diameter and covers an area of 6 acres (2.4 ha). The Central hall consists of the chambers of Lok sabha, Rajya Sabha and the Library hall. Surrounding these three chambers is the four storied circular structure providing accommodations for members and houses Parliamentary committees, offices and the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.

Indian Railways

Indian Railways logo
Indian Railways logo

Indian Railways (reporting mark IR) is a state-owned railway company, responsible for rail transport in India. It is owned and operated by the Government of India through the Ministry of Railways. It is one of the world’s largest railway networks comprising 115,000 km (71,000 mi) of track over a route of 67,312 km (41,826 mi) and 7,112 stations. In 2015-16, IR carried 8.101 billion passengers annually or more than 22 million passengers a day and 1.107 billion tons of freight in the year. In 2014–2015 Indian Railways had revenues of ₹1.709 trillion (US$25 billion) which consists of ₹1.118 trillion (US$17 billion) from freight and₹451.26 billion (US$6.7 billion) from passengers tickets.

Indian Railways headquarters, Delhi
Indian Railways headquarters, Delhi

Railways were first introduced to India in the year 1853 from Mumbai to Thane. In 1951 the systems were nationalised as one unit, the Indian Railways, becoming one of the largest networks in the world. IR operates both long distance and suburban rail systems on a multi-gauge network of broad, metre and narrow gauges. It also owns locomotive and coach production facilities at several places in India, with assigned codes identifying their gauge, kind of power and type of operation. Its operations cover twenty six states and two union territories across India, and also has international connectivity to Bangladesh (with Bangladesh Railway) and Pakistan (with Pakistan Railways).

Indian Railways is the world’s seventh largest commercial or utility employer, by number of employees, with over 1.376 million employees as of last published figures in 2013. The trains have a 5 digit numbering system and runs 12,617 passenger trains and 7,421 freight trains daily.

The core of the pressure for building Railways In India came from London. In 1848, there was not a single kilometer of railway line in India. The country’s first railway, built by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR), opened in 1853, between Bombay and Thane. The East Indian Railway Company was established 1 June 1845 in London by a deed of settlement with a capital of £4,000,000, largely raised in London. The Great Southern India Railway Co. was founded in Britain in 1853 and registered in 1859. Construction of track in Madras Presidency began in 1859 and the 80-mile link from Trichinopoly to Negapatam was opened in 1861. The Carnatic Railway founded in 1864, opened a Madras-Arakkonam-Kancheepuram line in 1865. The Great Southern India Railway Company was subsequently merged with the Carnatic Railway Company in 1874 to form the South Indian Railway Company.

A British engineer, Robert Maitland Brereton, was responsible for the expansion of the railways from 1857 onwards. The Allahabad-Jabalpur branch line of the East Indian Railway had been opened in June 1867. Brereton was responsible for linking this with the GIPR, resulting in a combined network of 6,400 km (4,000 mi). Hence it became possible to travel directly from Bombay to Calcutta. This route was officially opened on 7 March 1870 and it was part of the inspiration for French writer Jules Verne’s book Around the World in Eighty Days. At the opening ceremony, the Viceroy Lord Mayo concluded that “it was thought desirable that, if possible, at the earliest possible moment, the whole country should be covered with a network of lines in a uniform system”.

By 1895, India had started building its own locomotives, and in 1896, sent engineers and locomotives to help build the Uganda Railways.

In 1900, the GIPR became a government owned company. The network spread to the modern day states of Assam, Rajputhana and Madras Presidency and soon various autonomous kingdoms began to have their own rail systems. In 1905, an early Railway Board was constituted, but the powers were formally vested under Lord Curzon. It served under the Department of Commerce and Industry and had a government railway official serving as chairman, and a railway manager from England and an agent of one of the company railways as the other two members. For the first time in its history, the Railways began to make a profit.

The period between 1920 and 1929 was a period of economic boom; there were 41,000 mi (66,000 km) of railway lines serving the country; the railways represented a capital value of some 687 million sterling; and they carried over 620 million passengers and approximately 90 million tons of goods each year. Following the Great Depression, the railways suffered economically for the next eight years. The Second World War severely crippled the railways. Starting in 1939, about 40% of the rolling stock including locomotives and coaches was taken to the Middle East. The railways workshops were converted to ammunitions workshops and many railway tracks were dismantled to help the Allies in the war.By 1946, all rail systems had been taken over by the government.

The apex management organisation is the Railway Board, also called the Ministry of Railways. The board is headed by a Chairman who reports to the Minister of Railways. The board has five other members in addition to the chairman. The General Managers of the zonal railways and the production units report to the board.

O. N. V. Kurup

O. N. V. Kurup
O. N. V. Kurup

Ottaplakkal Neelakandan Velu Kurup (27 May 1931 – 13 February 2016), popularly known as O. N. V. Kurup or simply and endearingly O. N. V., was a renowned Malayalam poet and lyricist from Kerala, India, who won the Jnanpith Award, the highest literary award in India for the year 2007. He received the awards Padma Shri in 1998 and Padma Vibhushan in 2011, the fourth and second highest civilian honours from the Government of India. In 2007 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by University of Kerala, Trivandrum.

O. N. V.’s first published poem was ‘Munnottu’ (Forward) which appeared in a local weekly in 1946. His first poetry collection,Porutunna Soundaryam, came out in 1949. He published a book named Dahikunna Panapatram (The Thirsty Chalice) which was a collection of his early poems during 1946–1956.

In addition to the valuable contributions he had given to the Malayalam literature, he was one of the leading lyricists in Malayalam film/drama/album industry. He was the part of many dramas by Kerala People’s Arts Club (KPAC) which has a major remark in the revolutionary movements of Kerala. Kalam Marunnu (1956) was his first film which was also the first film by the famous Malayalam composer G. Devarajan. Since then he has been active in film until date and was honoured with one national award and thirteen state awards (the most by a Malayalee). He has penned about 900 songs in about 232 films and numerous songs for plays and albums.

Currency

A currency in the most specific use of the word refers to money in any form when in actual use or circulation as a medium of exchange, especially circulating banknotes and coins. A more general definition is that a currency is a system of money (monetary units) in common use, especially in a nation.

Currency evolved from two basic innovations, both of which had occurred by 2000 BC. Originally money was a form of receipt, representing grain stored in temple granaries in Sumer in ancient Mesopotamia, then Ancient Egypt.

In this first stage of currency, metals were used as symbols to represent value stored in the form of commodities. This formed the basis of trade in the Fertile Crescent for over 1500 years. However, the collapse of the Near Eastern trading system pointed to a flaw: in an era where there was no place that was safe to store value, the value of a circulating medium could only be as sound as the forces that defended that store. Trade could only reach as far as the credibility of that military. By the late Bronze Age, however, a series of treaties had established safe passage for merchants around the Eastern Mediterranean, spreading from Minoan Crete and Mycenae in the northwest to Elam and Bahrain in the southeast. It is not known what was used as a currency for these exchanges, but it is thought that ox-hide shaped ingots of copper, produced in Cyprus, may have functioned as a currency.

Paper money

Song dynasty Jiaozi, the world's earliest paper money.
Song dynasty Jiaozi, the world’s earliest paper money.

In premodern China, the need for credit and for a medium of exchange that was less physically cumbersome than large numbers of copper coins led to the introduction of paper money, i.e. banknotes. Their introduction was a gradual process which lasted from the late Tang dynasty (618–907) into the Song dynasty (960–1279). It began as a means for merchants to exchange heavy coinage for receipts of deposit issued as promissory notes by wholesalers’ shops. These notes were valid for temporary use in a small regional territory. In the 10th century, the Song dynasty government began to circulate these notes amongst the traders in its monopolized salt industry. The Song government granted several shops the right to issue banknotes, and in the early 12th century the government finally took over these shops to produce state-issued currency. Yet the banknotes issued were still only locally and temporarily valid: it was not until the mid 13th century that a standard and uniform government issue of paper money became an acceptable nationwide currency. The already widespread methods of woodblock printing and then Pi Sheng’s movable type printing by the 11th century were the impetus for the mass production of paper money in premodern China.