Portal:India/Today's selected article/November 2006

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November 1

Bangalore is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Bangalore is located on the Mysore Plateau in southwestern Karnataka. With an estimated metropolitan population of 6.1 million (2006), it is India's third-largest city and fifth-largest metropolitan area. Though historical references to the city predate 900, a modern written history of continuous settlement exists only from 1537, when Kempe Gowda I, who many regard as the architect of modern Bangalore, built a mud fort in the city and established it as a province of the imperial Vijayanagara Empire. The city's temperate climate, which is milder than that of other cities in the country, has been a major attraction to people from other parts of India. After India gained independence in 1947, Bangalore evolved into a manufacturing hub for public sector heavy industries — prominently aerospace, space and defence industries. Bangalore is referred to as the "Silicon Valley of India" and has the second-highest literacy rate in the nation. However, as a large and growing metropolis in the developing world Bangalore continues to struggle with problems such as air pollution, traffic congestion, and crime. (more...)

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November 2


The Indo-Greek Kingdom (or sometimes Greco-Indian Kingdom) covered various parts of the northwest and northern Indian subcontinent from 180 BCE to around 10 CE, and was ruled by a succession of more than thirty Greek kings, often in conflict with each other. The kingdom was founded when the Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius invaded India in 180 BCE, ultimately creating an entity which seceded from the powerful Greco-Bactrian Kingdom centered in Bactria (today's northern Afghanistan).

During the two centuries of their rule, the Indo-Greek kings combined the Greek and Indian languages and symbols, as seen on their coins, and blended Ancient Greek, Hindu and Buddhist religious practices, as seen in the archaeological remains of their cities and in the indications of their support of Buddhism. The Indo-Greek kings seem to have achieved a level of cultural syncretism with no equivalent in history, the consequences of which are still felt today, particularly through the diffusion and influence of Greco-Buddhist art.

The Indo-Greeks ultimately disappeared as a political entity around 10 CE following the invasions of the Indo-Scythian, Indo-Parthian and Kushans, although pockets of Greek populations probably remained for several centuries longer. (more...)

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November 3


The British East India Company was founded by a Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I on December 31, 1600. Over the next 250 years, it became one of the most powerful commercial enterprises of its time. The British East India Company's business was centered on India, where it also acquired auxiliary governmental and military functions which came to overshadow its commercial activities. India was often referred to as the Jewel in the Crown. (more...)

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November 4

Hindi Mahastotra.jpg

Hindi, an Indo-European language spoken mainly in North, Central, and Western India, is one of the national languages of India. It is part of a dialect continuum of the Indo-Aryan family. Hindi also refers to a standardized register of Hindustani that was made one of the official languages of India. The grammatical description in this article concerns standard Hindi. It evolved from Sanskrit, by way of the Middle Indo-Aryan Prakrit languages and Apabhramsha of the Middle Ages. As a standardised register of India, it became the national language of India on January 26, 1950. Hindi is often contrasted with Urdū. The primary differences between the two are that Standard Hindi is written in Devanāgarī which is written from left to right. The Devanagari script represents the sounds of spoken Hindi very closely, so that a person who knows the Devanagari letters can sound out a written Hindī text comprehensibly, even without knowing what the words mean and has supplemented some of its Persian and Arabic vocabulary, with words from Sanskrit; while Urdu is written in nastaliq script, a variant of the Persio-Arabic script, and draws heavily on Persian and Arabic vocabulary. (more...)

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November 5

Trivandrum Central

Thiruvananthapuram (Malayalam: തിരുവനന്തപുരം), formerly known as Trivandrum, is the capital of the Indian state of Kerala and the headquarters of Thiruvananthapuram District. It is located on the west coast of India near the extreme south of the mainland.It is characterized by its undulating terrain of low coastal hills with wide, clean roads and busy commercial alleys. India's Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi had referred and designated this lovely beach side city built on hills as the "Ever Green City of India". With almost 745,000 inhabitants at the 2001 census, the city itself is the largest and most populous city in Kerala; the wider urban agglomeration has a population of about one million.

The city is the State Capital and houses several Central and State Government offices, organizations and companies. Apart from being the political nerve center of Kerala, it is also a major academic hub and is home to several premier educational institutions including the Kerala University, and to many science and technology institutions, the most prominent being the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC). The city also has the first Information technology park of its kind and first Biotechnology Center, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) of its kind in India. Situated near Kazhakoottam, Technopark is home to many of the world's leading technology companies. (more...)

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November 6

Emblem of India

The Directive Principles of State Policy are guidelines to the central and state governments of India, to be kept in mind while framing laws and policies. These provisions, contained in Part IV of the Constitution of India, are not enforceable by any court, but the principles laid down therein are considered fundamental in the governance of the country, making it the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws to establish a just society in the country. The principles have been inspired by the Directive Principles given in the Constitution of Ireland and also by the principles of Gandhism; and relate to social justice, economic welfare, foreign policy, and legal and administrative matters.

They aim at achieving social and economic democracy for establishing a welfare state. Directive Principles are classified under the following categories: Gandhian, economic and socialistic, political and administrative, justice and legal, environmental, protection of monuments and peace and security. (more...)

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November 7


Gangtok is the capital and largest town of the Indian state of Sikkim. It is situated in the lower Himalayas. Known for its clean surroundings and temperate climate, this hill station of about fifty thousand people is the centre of Sikkim's tourist industry. Gangtok was a small hamlet until the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840 made it a pilgrimage center. It became a major stopover between Tibet and British India at the end of the 19th century. Following India's independence in 1947, Sikkim became a nation-state with Gangtok as its capital. In 1975 the monarchy was abrogated and Sikkim became India's twenty-second state, with Gangtok remaining as its capital. City is also a centre of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning with numerous monasteries and religious educational institutions. Gangtok is connected to the rest of India by an all-weather metalled highway, NH-31A, which links Gangtok to Siliguri. The civic infrastructure of Gangtok is overseen by the local municipal corporation whose councillors are directly elected by the people. The rural roads around Gangtok however, are maintained by the Border Roads Organisation, which is a part of the Indian army. (more...)

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November 8

Muhammad Ali Jinnah was an Indian Muslim politician and statesman who led the All India Muslim League and founded Pakistan, serving as its first Governor-General. While celebrated as a great leader in Pakistan, Jinnah remains a controversial figure, provoking intense criticism for his role in the partition of India. As a student and young lawyer, Jinnah rose to prominence in the Indian National Congress, expounded Hindu-Muslim unity, shaped the 1916 Lucknow Pact between the Congress and the Muslim League, and was a key leader in the All India Home Rule League. Differences with Mohandas Gandhi led Jinnah to quit the Congress; he then took charge of the Muslim League and proposed a fourteen-point constitutional reform plan to safeguard the political rights of Muslim in a self-governing India. Disillusioned by the failure of his efforts and the League's disunity, Jinnah would live in London for many years. Several Muslim leaders persuaded Jinnah to return to India in 1934 and re-organise the League. Disillusioned by the failure to build coalitions with the Congress, Jinnah embraced the goal of creating a separate state for Muslims as in the Lahore Resolution. The failure of the Congress-League coalition to govern the country prompted both parties and the British to agree to partition. (more...)

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November 9

Side view of Chennai central

Chennai, also known as Madras, is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu and is India's fourth largest metropolitan city. It is located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. With an estimated population of 6.90 million, the 367-year-old city is the 31st largest metropolitan area in the world. The city is a large commercial and industrial centre, and is known for its cultural heritage and temple architecture. The city is the automobile capital of India, with around forty percent of the automobile industry having a base there. The 12 kilometre long Marina Beach forms the city's east coast and is one of the longest beaches in the world. The city is also known for its sport venues and hosts India's only ATP tennis event, the Chennai Open. Chennai is located on a flat coastal plain known as the Eastern Coastal Plains. The city has an average elevation of 6 metres, its highest point being 60 m. City is governed by the Corporation of Chennai, which consists of a Mayor and 155 Councillors representing the 155 Wards. Chennai's culture reflects its diverse population. The city is known for its classical dance shows and Hindu temples. (more...)

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November 10

Main building of IIT Kharagpur

The Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (commonly known as IIT Kharagpur or IIT KGP) is an autonomous engineering and technology-oriented institute of higher education established by the Government of India. Located in Kharagpur, it was the first of the seven IITs, established in 1951. Officially recognised as an Institute of National Importance, IIT Kharagpur is widely regarded as one of the best engineering institutions in Asia.

IIT Kharagpur was established to train scientists and engineers after India attained independence from British rule in 1947. It is linked to the other IITs in its organisational structure as well as its admission process (IIT-JEE). The students and alumni of IIT Kharagpur are referred to as ‘‘KGPians’’. IIT Kharagpur has the largest campus (2,100 acres (8.5 km2)), maximum student enrollment, maximum number of departments, and the largest library among all IITs. IIT Kharagpur is particularly famous for Illumination and Rangoli festival, in addition to Spring Fest (social and cultural festival) and Kshitij (technology festival). (more...)

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November 11

Emblem of India

K. M. Nanavati vs. State of Maharashtra was a 1959 Indian court case involving Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati, who was tried for shooting dead Prem Ahuja, his wife Sylvia's paramour. The incident shocked the nation, got unprecedented media coverage and inspired several books and movies. The case was not only the last jury trial held in India, but also a direct cause for the abolition of jury trials.

In the historic case, Nanavati, a Naval Officer, was put up on trial under section 302 and 304 Part I of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for alleged murder of his wife's paramour. The High Court dismissed the earlier acquittal by a Jury Trial and convicted the accused to life imprisonment under Sec. 302 of IPC. (more...)

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November 12

Adi Shankara, also known as Ādi Śaṅkarācārya ("the first Shankara in his lineage"), c. 788820 CE, was the first philosopher to consolidate the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta, a sub-school of Vedanta. His teachings are based on the unity of the soul and God, in which God is viewed as simultaneously personal and attributeless. In the Smārta tradition, Adi Shankara is regarded as an incarnation of Shiva.

Adi Shankara toured India with the purpose of propagating his teachings through discourses and debates with other philosophers. He founded four mathas ("abbeys") which played a key role in the historical development and spread of Hinduism and Advaita Vedanta. Adi Shankara was the founder of the Dashanami monastic order and the Shanmata tradition of worship. His works in Sanskrit, all of which are extant today, concern themselves with establishing the doctrine of Advaita (Sanskrit, "Non-dualism"). Adi Shankara quotes extensively from the Upanishads and other Hindu scriptures in forming his teachings. He also includes polemics against opposing schools of thought like Samkhya and Buddhism in his works. (more...)

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November 13

The Legislative Museum

The city of Thiruvananthapuram has been the centre of cultural activities of Kerala from the time it was made capital of Travancore in 1745. The capital city is a major intellectual and artistic center. The Thiruvananthapuram Museum and Thiruvananthapuram Zoo were started during the reign of Swathi Thirunal(1813–1847) and are one of the oldest of their kind in India. The city's libraries include the British Library and Thiruvananthapuram Public library, which was started in 1829. The 'Swathi Thirunal College of Music' and 'College of fine arts' are the leading institutions related to music and arts. The people of Thiruvananthapuram are sometimes referred to as "Trivandrumites". (more...)

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November 14


The Kargil War, also known as the Kargil conflict, was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between April and June 1999 in Kashmir. The cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the Line of Control, which serves as the de facto border between the two nations. Pakistan blamed the fighting entirely on independent Kashmiri insurgents; however, documents left behind by casualties and later statements by Pakistan's Prime Minister and Army Chief showed involvement of Pakistani paramilitary forces. The Indian Army, supported by the air force, attacked the Pakistani positions and, with international diplomatic support, eventually forced a Pakistani withdrawal across the Line of Control (LoC).

The war is one of the most recent examples of high altitude warfare, in mountainous terrain, and posed significant logistics problems for the combating sides. This was the first ground war between any two nuclear armed countries. (India and Pakistan both test-detonated fission devices in May 1998, though the first Indian nuclear test was conducted in 1974.) The conflict led to heightened tensions between the two nations and increased defense spending on the part of India. In Pakistan, the aftermath caused instability to the government and the economy, and on October 13, 1999, a coup d'etat by the military, placed army chief Pervez Musharraf in power. (more...)

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November 15

Mahabharata is one of the two major ancient Sanskrit epics of India, the other being the Ramayana. Traditionally ascribed to Vyasa, it is the longest literary epic poem in the world. The title may be translated as "History of the Great India" or, more accurately, "the Great Bharata Dynasty" . The work is part of the Hindu itihaasas, literally "that which happened", along with the Puranas. The core story of the work is that of a dynastic struggle for the throne of Hastinapura, the kingdom ruled by the Kuru clan. The two collateral branches of the family that participate in the struggle are the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The struggle culminates leading to the Great battle of Kurukshetra, and the Pandavas are ultimately victorious. It also marks the beginning of the Hindu age of Kali (Kali Yuga), where the great values and noble ideas have crumbled, and man is speedily heading toward the complete dissolution of right action, morality and virtue. Some of the most noble and revered figures in the Mahabharat end up fighting on the side of the Kauravas, due to allegiances formed prior to the conflict. (more...)

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November 16

Emblem of India.svg

The Fundamental Rights in India enshrined in the Constitution of India guarantee civil liberties such that all Indians can lead their lives in peace and harmony as citizens of India. These include individual rights common to most liberal democracies, such as equality before law, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, freedom to practice religion, and the right to constitutional remedies for the protection of civil rights by means of writs such as habeas corpus. The punishment for encroaching on these rights is upon the discretion of the judiciary and the punishments laid out in the Indian Penal Code.

The Fundamental Rights are defined as basic human freedoms which every Indian citizen has the right to enjoy for a proper and harmonious development of personality. These rights (defined in Part III of the Constitution of India) universally apply to all citizens, irrespective of race, place of birth, religion, caste, creed, colour or sex. They are enforceable by the courts, subject to certain restrictions. The Rights have their origins in many sources, including England's Bill of Rights, the United States Bill of Rights and France's Declaration of the Rights of Man. (more...)

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November 17

Kochi (formerly known as Cochin) is a city in the Indian state of Kerala, and one of the principal seaports of the country. According to the 2001 census, the metropolitan area of Kochi is the largest urban agglomeration in Kerala, with a population of 1,355,406 – of which 650,000 reside in the city. Kochi is located in the district of Ernakulam, about 220 km north of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram. Since 1102 AD, the city of Kochi was the seat of an eponymous princely state which traces its lineages to the Kulasekhara empire. Kochi was an important spice trading centre on the Arabian Sea coast since the 14th century. Kochi was the site of the first European colonial settlement in India, and remained the capital of Portuguese India till 1530, before it was moved to Goa. The city was later occupied by the Dutch, Mysore and the English. Successive waves of migration over the course of several millennia, has made Kochi a melting pot of different cultures; a blend of tradition and modernity. Kochi is the commercial hub of Kerala, and one of the fastest growing second-tier metros in India. (more...)

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November 18

An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon by Robert Knox (1681)

For thousands of years, crushing by elephant was a common method of execution for those condemned to death, mainly throughout south and southeast Asia, and particularly in India. Elephants employed in this manner were used to crush, dismember, or torture captives in public executions. The use of elephants to execute captives often attracted the horrified interest of European travellers, and was recorded in numerous contemporary journals and accounts of life in Asia. The practice was eventually suppressed by the European empires that colonised the region in the 18th and 19th centuries. (more...)

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November 19

The geography of India is extremely diverse, with landscape ranging from snow-capped mountain ranges to deserts, plains, hills and plateaus. Climate ranges from equatorial in the far south, to tundra in the Himalayan altitudes. India comprises most of the Indian subcontinent and has a long coastline of over 7,000 km (4,300 miles), most of which lies on a peninsula that protrudes into the Indian Ocean. India is bounded in the west by the Arabian Sea and in the east by the Bay of Bengal. The fertile Indo-Gangetic plain occupies most of northern, central and eastern India, while the Deccan Plateau occupies most of southern India. To the west of the country is the Thar Desert, which consists of a mix of rocky and sandy desert, while India's east and northeastern border consists of the high Himalayan range. (more...)

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November 20

Muhammad Iqbal

Muhammad Iqbal was an Indian poet, philosopher and politician, whose poetry in Persian and Urdu is regarded as one of the greatest in modern times. Also famous for his work on religious and political philosophy in Islam, he is credited with first proposing the idea of an independent state for Indian Muslims, which would inspire the creation of Pakistan. After studying in England and Germany, Iqbal established a law practise, but he primarily concentrated on religious and philosophical subjects, writing scholarly works on politics, economics, history, philosophy and religion. He is best known for his poetic works, which include the Asrar-e-Khudi, in honour of which he was knighted by the British government. Scholars have hailed his poetry in Persian as some of the best in modern times. Iqbal was a strong proponent of the political and spiritual revival of Islamic civilisation across the world, but specifically in India. He is commemorated as the national poet of Pakistan. (more...)

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November 21

Site lothal.jpg

Lothal was one of the most prominent cities of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. Located in the state of Gujarat in India, it was discovered in 1954, and its existence dates from 2400 BCE. Lothal's dock—the world's earliest—made the city a vital centre of trade between Harappan cities, West Asia and Africa. The dock, its wharf, lock-gate system, and sophisticated drainage system are unusual marvels of engineering. Lothal yielded the most important Indus-era antiquities in modern India. Its scientists divided the horizon and sky into 8–12 whole parts, pioneering the study of stars and advanced navigation. (more...)

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November 22


Hinduism is a religion or philosophy that originated from the Indian subcontinent and nearby surrounding areas. The term Hinduism is heterogeneous, as Hinduism consists of several schools of thought. It encompasses many religious rituals that widely vary in practice, as well as many diverse sects and philosophies. Many Hindus, influenced by Advaita philosophy, venerate an array of deities, considering them manifestations of the one supreme monistic Cosmic Spirit, Brahman, while many others focus on a singular concept of Brahman (God), as in Vaishnavism, Saivism and Shaktism.

Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world, with approximately 900 million adherents (2005 figure), of whom approximately 890 million live in India. It is also the oldest known religion in the world today. Unlike many other religions, Hinduism has no main founder, and no main holy city. It also has no single holy book — its original scriptures were the four Vedas, but as time has passed, many other scriptures have also emerged. (more...)

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November 23

Devastation in Sumatra

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, also known as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, was an undersea earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC (07:58:53 local time) on December 26, 2004. The earthquake triggered a series of lethal tsunamis that spread throughout the Indian Ocean, killing large numbers of people and devastating coastal communities across South and South East Asia, including parts of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and elsewhere. The number of casualties were 186,983 dead and 42,883 missing, for a total of 229,866 affected. This catastrophe is one of the deadliest disasters in modern history and is known in Asia and in the international media as the Asian Tsunami, and also called the Boxing Day Tsunami. The magnitude of the earthquake has been upgraded to between 9.1 and 9.3 on the Richter scale. This earthquake was also reported to be the longest duration of faulting ever observed, lasting between 500 and 600 seconds, and it was large enough that it caused the entire planet to vibrate at least half an inch, or over a centimetre. The earthquake originated in the Indian Ocean just north of Simeulue island, off the western coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. The plight of the many affected people and countries prompted a widespread humanitarian response, with more than US$7 billion donated in aid for those affected. (more...)

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November 24

Location of Mirzapur

Indian Standard Time (IST) is the time observed throughout India, with a time offset of UTC+5:30. India does not observe daylight saving time (DST) or other seasonal adjustments, although DST was used briefly during the Sino–Indian War of 1962, and the Indo–Pakistani Wars of 1965 and 1971. In certain time-zone maps, IST is designated as E*.

Indian Standard Time is calculated on the basis of 82.5 °E longitude which just west of the town of Mirzapur, near Allahabad in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The latitude difference between Mirzapur and the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in the UK translates to an exact time difference of 5 hours and 30 minutes. Local time is calculated from a clock tower at the Allahabad Observatory (25°09′N 82°30′E / 25.15°N 82.5°E / 25.15; 82.5) though the official time servers are located in New Delhi. (more...)

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November 25

Buddhist art, defined as the figurative arts and decorative arts linked to the Buddhist religion, originated in the Indian subcontinent in the centuries following the life of the historical Gautama Buddha in the 6th to 5th century BCE, before evolving through its contact with other cultures and its diffusion through the rest of Asia and the world. A first, essentially Indian, aniconic phase (avoiding direct representations of the Buddha), was followed from around the 1st century CE by an iconic phase (with direct representations of the Buddha). From that time, Buddhist art diversified and evolved as it adapted to the new countries where the faith was expanding. It developed to the north through Central Asia and into Eastern Asia to form the Northern branch of Buddhist art, and to the east as far as South-East Asia to form the Southern Branch of Buddhist art. In India, the land of its birth, Buddhist art flourished and even influenced the development of Hindu art, until Buddhism almost disappeared around the 10th century with the expansion of Hinduism and Islam. (more...)

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November 26

Location of Kottayam in Kerala

Red rain in Kerala was a phenomenon observed sporadically from 25 July to 23 September 2001 in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Heavy downpours occurred in which the rain was primarily red, staining clothes and appearing like blood. Yellow, green, and black rains were also reported.

It was initially suspected that the rains were coloured by fallout from a hypothetical meteor burst, but the Government of India commissioned a study which found the rains had been coloured by spores from a locally prolific aerial algae. Then in early 2006, the coloured rains of Kerala suddenly rose to worldwide attention after media reports of an extraordinary theory that the coloured particles are extraterrestrial cells, proposed by Godfrey Louis and Santhosh Kumar of the Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam. (more...)

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November 27

Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal, built 740

The Chalukya dynasty (Kannada: ಚಾಲುಕ್ಯರು, Kannada pronunciation: [tʃaːɭukjə]) was an Indian royal dynasty that ruled large parts of southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries. During this period, they ruled as three closely related, but individual dynasties. The earliest dynasty is known as the Badami Chalukyas who ruled from their capital Badami from the middle of the 6th century. The Badami Chalukyas began to assert their independence at the decline of the Kadamba kingdom of Banavasi and rapidly rose to prominence during the reign of Pulakesi II. The other two later dynasties were the Eastern Chalukyas who ruled from Vengi and Western Chalukyas who ruled from Basavakalyan. The rise of the Chalukyas marks an important milestone in the history of South India and a golden age in the history of Karnataka. This period saw the birth of efficient administration, rise in overseas trade and commerce and the development of new style of architecture called Vesara. Around the 9th century, it also saw the growth of Kannada as a language of literature in the Jaina Puranas, Veerashaiva Vachanas and Brahminical traditions. The 11th century saw the birth of Telugu literature under the patronage of the Eastern Chalukyas. (more...)

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November 28

Constitution of India.jpg

Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties are important parts of the Constitution of India. The Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties of the citizens of India address freedom and democracy in the country, and the Directive Principles guide the Government in making laws and policies. The Fundamental Rights are basic human freedoms which every citizen of India has the right to enjoy for a proper and harmonious development of his personality. These rights, set out in Part III of the Constitution of India, universally apply to all citizens, irrespective of race, place of birth, religion, caste, creed, colour or sex. The Directive Principles of State Policy are guidelines that the Government should use while framing laws and policies. These provisions, contained in Part IV of the Constitution, relate to social justice, economic welfare, legal and administrative matters, and foreign policy. The Fundamental Duties are moral obligations on all citizens of India which help promote a spirit of patriotism and uphold the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India. These duties, given in Part IV–A of the Constitution of India, concern the self, the environment, the State and society. and the Nation. (more...)

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November 29

A temple from the Chola dynasty period. Cholas were an important ruling dynasty in the history of Tamil Nadu.

The region of Tamil Nadu has been under continuous human habitation since prehistoric times and the history of Tamil Nadu and the civilisation of the Tamil people are among the oldest in the world. Throughout its history, spanning from the early Palaeolithic age to the modern time, this region has coexisted with various external cultures. The ancient Tamil dynasties of Chera, Chola and Pandya ruled over this land with a unique culture and language, contributing to the growth of some of the oldest extant literature in the world. They had extensive maritime trade contacts with the Roman empire. Invasion by the Kalabhras during the third century disturbed the traditional order of the land by displacing the three ruling dynasties. These occupiers were overthrown by the resurgence of the Pandyas and the Pallavas, who restored the traditional kingdoms. The Cholas, who re-emerged from obscurity in the ninth century by defeating the Pallavas and the Pandyas, rose to become a great power and extended their empire over the entire southern peninsula.

With the decline of the three ancient dynasties during the fourteenth century, the Tamil country became part of the Vijayanagara Empire. Under this empire, the Nayak governors ruled Tamil Nadu. The European trading companies began to appear during the seventeenth century and eventually assumed greater sway over the indigenous rulers of the land. The Madras Presidency, comprising most of southern India, was created in the eighteenth century and was ruled directly by the British East India Company. After the independence of India, the Tamil Nadu state was created based on linguistic boundaries. (more...)

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November 30

Satyajit Ray (May 2, 1921 – April 23, 1992) was an Indian film director, regarded as one of the greatest auteurs of twentieth century cinema for his subtle, austere and lyrical style of film-making. Born in a prominent Bengali family of arts and letters, Ray studied in Kolkata and at the Visva-Bharati University, Shantiniketan. After completing his education, Ray took up visual design, before turning to film direction. Ray's cinematic debut, Pather Panchali (1955) is a milestone of humanist filmmaking and changed the course of Bengali and Indian cinema. Ray directed thirty-seven films, comprising features, documentaries and shorts. Apart from being a film-maker, he was also a fiction writer, publisher, illustrator, graphic designer and film critic. Ray received many major film and movie awards in his career, including an Academy Award for lifetime achievement in 1991 shortly before his death in Kolkata. (more...)

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