[NOTES] Art & Culture Revision through Images

Hello friends, to help you in the last minute UPSC Prelims revision Dr. Vivekananda has created a handwritten quick art and culture notes with images.

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Basic rights for the aged

  • Terming the rights of the rising elderly population of the country an “emerging situation” not envisaged even in the Constitution, the Supreme Court  said the government could not tighten its finances in the name of “economic budgeting” to explain the inadequate welfare provided to senior citizens and the aged.
  • The court said it was a statutory right of every aged person under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act of 2007 to be provided dignity, health and shelter.
  • All the three are important components which make the fundamental right to life under Article 21.
  • It observed that in the absence of a suitable number of old age homes, and homes as per their status, they are left to fend for themselves making them vulnerable to mishaps and other unforeseen events.
  • The apex court ordered the Centre to obtain details from the States about the medical and geriatric care facilities available to senior citizens in each district.
  • The court directed that the Centre should prepare a plan of action for giving publicity to the provisions of 2007 Act and ensure that the State governments carry out and execute the provisions of the law.
  • The Centre also noted that there had been a steady rise in the population of senior citizens in India. It submitted in court that the number of elderly persons had increased from 1.98 crore in 1951 to 7.6 crore in 2001 and 10.38 crore in 2011. It is projected that the number of 60+ in India would increase to 14.3 crore in 2021 and 17.3 crore in 2026.
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007
  • The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill, 2007 seeks to make it a legal obligation for children and heirs to provide maintenance to senior citizens. It also permits state governments to establish old age homes in every district.
  • Senior citizens who are unable to maintain themselves shall have the right to apply to a maintenance tribunal seeking a monthly allowance from their children or heirs.
  • State governments may set up maintenance tribunals in every sub-division to decide the level of maintenance. Appellate tribunals may be established at the district level.
  • State governments shall set the maximum monthly maintenance allowance. The Bill caps the maximum monthly allowance at Rs 10,000 per month.
  • Punishment for not paying the required monthly allowance shall be Rs 5,000 or up to three months imprisonment or both.
  • Maintenance is defined in the Act as including “provision for food, clothing, residence and medical attendance and treatment”.
Who is Legally Obligated to Pay Maintenance?
  • Adult Children and adult grandchildren, both male and female, are responsible for paying maintenance to parents and grandparents. An application can be filed against any one or more of them.
  • Senior citizens who do not have children or grandchildren can claim maintenance from a relative who is either possessing their property or who will inherit their property of the senior citizen after their death.
Key Issues and Analysis
  • It is unclear whether the creation of maintenance tribunals will ensure financial independence for senior citizens, or whether parents will likely take their children to court to obtain a maintenance allowance from them.
  • The definition of senior citizen includes both Indian citizens aged over 60 years, and all parents irrespective of age. Also, the Bill does not address the needs of senior citizens who do not have children or property.
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Draft Bill, 2018
  • Amendments  are under consideration in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Major amendments proposed in the existing Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 comprise:
  • The Bill expands the definition of children, which currently refers to only biological children and grandchildren, to include daughter-in-law and son-in-law and also adopted/step-children.
  • It extends the definition of maintenance beyond provision of food, clothing, housing, health care to include “safety and security” of the parent.
  • Removal of maximum ceiling of maintenance allowance; extension of right to appeal to the respondents also; extension of benefit of revocation of transfer of property to parents also; reckoning of time limit for disposal of applications by the Tribunal from the date of receipt of application etc.
  • Jail term for those who abandon their parents : They shall be punishable with imprisonment of not less than three months which may be extended to six months or fine up to Rupees Ten Thousand or both.
  • It will require the government to establish and run at least one Senior Citizen Care Home in every district in the country.
  • Currently, various government and private schemes for insurance/health, housing and travel, have varied cut-off age for offering benefits meant for senior citizens. The Bill mandates the uniform age across schemes should be 60 years.
  • It states that if parents transfer property to their children on the condition that they take care of them, and this clause is breached, the transfer of property will be deemed to be “made by fraud or coercion or under undue influence” and a tribunal can order it to be transferred back to the parent.

Prelims [Kitkat] Questions UPSC

In 2017 there was a prelims question : At one of the places in India, if you stand on the seashore and watch the sea, you will find that the sea water recedes from the shore line a few kilometres and comes back to the shore, twice a day, and you can actually walk on the sea floor when the water recedes. This unique phenomenon is seen at

(a) Bhavnagar
(b) Bheemunipatnam
(c) Chandipur
(d) Nagapattinam

Solution: C

One can find Chandipur’s mention in previous UPSC papers, but most recent priming is found on cover of Kit kat bar , not suggesting that question came from there but high probability ! The company is running a campaign called #MyTravelBreak pack, contains some interesting information on various places in India.


So we are adding Images of places with some thing “unique”, who knows a prelims question can come from these ! If you have any list or photos of any places of interest , please do let us know Mail : kalyan@iksa.in Telegram : @naylak or comments section.

UMNGOT RIVER in some parts is as transparent as crystal and you can actually see the river bed!

  • Umngot river, that flows in both India and Bangladesh, is in Meghalaya
  • The river is the natural boundary between Ri Pnar (of Jaintia Hills) with Hima Khyrim (of Khasi Hills) over which hangs a single span suspension bridge.

ATHIRAPALLY FALLS Kerala  are fondly known as the Niagara Falls of India! It is on the Chalakudy River, which originates from the upper reaches of the Western Ghats

GANDIKOTA is popularly known as the Grand Canyon of India!  Gandikota is situated on the Pennar River in Andhra Pradesh and is known as the Grand Canyon of India.

The ZANSKAR RIVER in Ladakh J&K offers a unique opportunity to trek on a frozen river.The Zanskar River is a north-flowing tributary of the Indus. In winter when the road to Zanskar is closed by snow on the high passes, the only overland route to Padum is by walking along the frozen river, a multi-day hike that is now sold as an adventure activity called the Chadar ‘ice sheet’ Trek

MAJULI, a complete town situated on the world’s largest river island within the mighty Brahmaputra.  Assam ,Probably the most know and most famous topic here.

BELUM CAVES, Andhra Pradesh with almost 3.2 kms of underground tunnels, are amongst the longest caves open for public access in India. The Belum Caves is the largest and longest cave system open to the public on the Indian subcontinent, known for its speleothems, such as stalactite and stalagmite formations. The Belum Caves have long passages, galleries, spacious caverns with fresh water and siphons.

CHIKMAGALUR is often known as the birth place of coffee in India.

Nubra Valley 

is a tri-armed valley located to the north east of Ladakh valley. Diskit the capital of Nubra is about 150 km north from Leh town, the capital of Ladakh district, India.

Bactrian camels of Nubra Valley are large even-toed ungulates native to Central Asian steppes. They are a critically endangered sub species with very few of them left in the wild. he Bactrian camel has two humps on its back

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New cults and godmen: a threat to traditional religion

UPSC has asked this essay long back in 1996, in 2017 it seems more relevant than ever , try answering this essay. links to various news articles are provided.

UPSC GS Paper 1 Mains 2015

Hello friends, this is GS paper 1 of Mains 2105, the question paper is really interesting, and might look easy to some, but to think and see exactly what examiner is expecting from candidate from each question in that short time in mains hall is whole different game.

  1.  The ancient civilization in Indian sub continent differed from those of Egypt , Mesopotamia and Greece in that its culture and traditions have been preserved without breakdown to the present day. Comment
  2.  Mesolithic rock cut architecture of India not only reflects the cultural life of the times but also a fine aesthetic sense comparable to modern painting. Critically evaluate this comment.
  3.  How difficult would have been the achievement of Indian independence without Mahatma Gandhi? Discuss.
  4.  Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. B R Ambedkar, despite having divergent approaches and strategies, had a common goal of amelioration of the downtrodden. Elucidate.
  5.  It would have been difficult for the Constituent Assembly to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India in just three years, but its experience gained with the Government of India Act, 1935 .Discuss.
  6.  Why did the industrial revolution first occur in England? Discuss the quality of life of the people there during the industrialization. How does it compare with that in India at present times?
  7.  To what extend can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically.
  8.  Describe any four cultural elements of diversity in India and rate their relative significance in building a national identity.
  9.  Critically examine whether growing population is the cause of poverty OR poverty is the mains cause of population increase in India.
  10.  How do you explain the statistics that show that the sex ratio in Tribes in India is more favorable to women than the sex ratio among Scheduled Castes?
  11.  Discuss the changes in the trends of labor migration within and outside India in the last four decades.
  12.  Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization on women in India?
  13.  Debate the issue whether and how contemporary movements for assertion of Dalit identity work towards annihilation of caste.
  14.  Explain the factors responsible for the origin of ocean currents. How do they influence regional climates, fishing and navigation?
  15.  Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are the three Mega cities of the country but the air pollution is much more serious problem in Delhi as compared to the other two. Why is this so?
  16.  India is well endowed with fresh water resources. Critically examine why it still suffers from water scarcity.
  17.  The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are reaching the limits of ecological carrying capacity due to tourism. Critically evaluate.
  18.  How far do you agree that the behavior of the Indian monsoon has been changing due to humanizing landscape? Discuss.
  19.  Smart cities in India cannot sustain without smart villages. Discuss this statement in the backdrop of rural urban integration.
  20.  What are the economic significance of discovery of oil in Arctic Sea and its possible environmental consequences?

Thanks to Forums IAS.

India’s missing women

This article is not a detailed post but links to various articles relating to India’s missing women and Gender Inequality,  these are collection of articles in that direction.

Discuss the Battle of Waterloo and the impact of it.

The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. A French army under the command of Napoleon was defeated by the armies of the Seventh Coalition, comprising an Anglo-allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington combined with a Prussian army.

Upon Napoleon’s return to power in March 1815, many states that had opposed him formed the Seventh Coalition and began to mobilize armies. Two large forces assembled close to the north-eastern border of France. Napoleon chose to attack in the hope of destroying them before they could join in a coordinated invasion of France with other members of the coalition. The defeat at Waterloo ended Napoleon’s rule as Emperor of the French.

The bicentenary of Waterloo has prompted renewed attention to the geopolitical and economic legacy of the battle and the century of relative transatlantic peace which followed.

The Battle ended the First French Empire and the political and military career of Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the greatest commanders and statesmen in history.

It was followed by almost four decades of international peace in Europe. No further major conflict occurred until the Crimean War. Changes to the configuration of European states, as refashioned after Waterloo, included the formation of the Holy Alliance of reactionary governments intent on repressing revolutionary and democratic ideas.Every generation in Europe up to the outbreak of the First World War looked back at Waterloo as the turning point that dictated the course of subsequent world history. In retrospect, it was seen as the event that ushered in the Concert of Europe, an era characterised by relative peace, material prosperity and technological progress.


What is a social dilemma? How is it related to social capital?

A social dilemma occurs when an individual faces the choice of incurring a personal cost for a greater benefit for others. When social capital( trust, cooperation, understanding and sharing among members of society) is high, individuals are more prepared to incur such individual costs for the greater good; and when most people in society behave in that manner, society as a whole benefits in higher economic productivity, stronger social insurance, greater social resilience to natural hazards, and greater mutual care (such as Good Samaritans coming to the
emergency aid of others).

Many social dilemmas occur in countless faceto-face encounters in daily life and business dealings. When two individuals engage in abusiness encounter, there are the possibilities that they may engage in deceitful behavior such as theft, fraud, or even violence. Some of these threats can be controlled by legal contracts, butwriting and enforcing contracts can be costly or even impossible in some circumstances. Thus, trust is critical: the confidence that the counterparty will behave honestly or morally and transparently.
Without social trust, a wide range of mutually beneficial economic and social arrangements may be impossible to negotiate, much less to sustain.Other social dilemmas occur at the societalscale. When social capital is high, individual citizens are more prepared to pay their taxes honestly, more prepared to support investment in public goods, and more likely to support social insurance policies. The Scandinavian countries, with perhaps the highest social capital in the world, also have the most extensive social welfare systems (broadly classified as social democracy). High social capital is conducive to electoral support for a strong social safety net and extensive social services.

Social capital is best built by exemplary laws, ececution,systems and behaviour of leaders in all walks of life.

Sufism in India: Its origins Main Silsilas and Impact.

The early Sufi mystics stressed on the virtues of repentance, abstinence, renunciation, poverty and trust in God. The early Sufis were wanderers but in due course of time the Sufi groups had become orders and we notice the formation of Sufi orders or Salsilas.

After the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, many Sufi orders were established in different parts of India and Sufism became very influential by the 14th century.They believed in the equality of all human beings and brotherhood of man. Their concept of universal brotherhood and the humanitarian ideas of the Sufi saints attracted the Indian mind. A movement similar to Sufism, called the Bhakti cult, was already afoot in India on the eve of the Muslim conquest of the country. The liberal-minded Sufis were, therefore, welcomed in India. The Sufi movement proved very helpful in bridging the gap between the followers of the two religions and in bringing the Hindus and the Muslims together.

Three of the most important Silsilas during the period of the Sultanate are as follows:

1. The Suhrawardi Silsila which was founded in India by Shaik Bahauddin Zakaria (AD 1182-1262).After his death in 1236 A.D., his devotees continued to celebrate an annual Urs festival at Ajmer.

2. Nizamuddin Auliya. He led a simple austere life and lived in Delhi. By his vast learning, religious knowledge, and tolerant attitude to all religions, he earned devotion of both the Hindu and Muslim masses.

3. The Chisti Silsila introduced in India by Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, who died in AD 1236. Even today he is venerated by Muslims and his tomb is located at Ajmer, which became a sacred pilgrimage. Besides the above two orders, there existed the orders of the Firdausi, the Qadiri, the Shatauri, Qalandari, etc.

While Sufism reached India in the 12th century A.D, ts influence grew considerably during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In India, Chisti and Suhrawardi Silsila were most prominent.

A critical study of the tenets of Sufism indicates that it was acquainted with Hinduism and Hindu thought and had imbibed certain elements of Indian idealism and adopted many Yogic practices and also was influenced by Upanishadic idealism and Vedanta.

The early Sufis were not only ascetics but also lived a life of voluntary poverty shunning all types of worldly pleasures. Khwaja Fariduddin, popularly known as Baba declared, “The main purpose of this path is the concentration of heart which can be achieved only by the abstination from prohibited means of livelihood and association with kings”. Thus, most of the Sufis in India conceived and preached divine unity in terms of idealistic monoism while many Hindus found the Sufi ideas very similar to those of Vedantic philosophy.

The lower strata of Hindu community appear to be greatly attracted by the ideas of social equality and fraternity of Islam. Thus the simplicity, toleration and liberation of the Sufis in India released syncretic forces and led to a sort of cultural synthesis.

The Sufi movement gained impetus during the reign of Akbar who adopted a liberal religious policy under the influence of the Sufi saints.

Abul Fazal had mentioned the existence of 14 Silsilahs in India. A close link that existed between the leader or Pir and his murids or disciples was a vital element of the Sufi system.

The Sufi Movement in India helped in establishing peace and amity among the Hindus and Muslims.

Impact of Sufism

The liberal ideas and unorthodox principles of Sufism had a profound influence on Indian society. The liberal principles of Sufi sects restrained orthodox. Muslims in their attitude and encouraged many Muslim rulers to pursue tolerant attitude to their non-Muslim subjects. Most Sufi saints preached their teachings in the language of common man that contributed greatly to the evolution of various Indian languages like Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Kashmiri and Hindi. The impact of Sufi Movement was deeply felt on some renowned poets of the period, like Amir Khusrau and Malik Muhammad Jayasi who composed poems in Persian and Hindi in praise of Sufi principles.

What is a heat wave and its effects?

A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity, especially in oceanic climate countries. While definitions vary,a heat wave is measured relative to the usual weather in the area and relative to normal temperatures for the season. Temperatures that people from a hotter climate consider normal can be termed a heat wave in a cooler area if they are outside the normal climate pattern for that area.[2]

The term is applied both to routine weather variations and to extraordinary spells of heat which may occur only once a century. Severe heat waves have caused catastrophic crop failures, thousands of deaths from hyperthermia, and widespread power outages due to increased use of air conditioning. A heat wave is considered extreme weather, and a danger because heat and sunlight may overheat the human body.

The Odisha model of minimizing damage

After the heavy casualties in 1998, the Odisha government treats it as a disaster on the scale of cyclone or flood.By February-end, the government starts the preparation for fighting heat wave with a single objective in mind: no human casualty. Schools and colleges shift to early morning sessions. They open at 6.30am and end by 12 noon.Government offices also follow the same timings. Examinations are held by March. Public transport does not operate between 12 noon and 3.30pm. Public wage programmes like, MGNREGA is halted from 11.30am to 3.30pm.

A look at the heat wave deaths in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana would reveal that most of the people killed in the two states were labourers at construction sites who continued with their work even when the temperatures were at the peak.

There are other measures in place in Odisha to minimise heat wave impacts. Public health centres keep ice slabs ready to treat stroke patients. Panchayats across the state open water booths.
The state government also puts out continuous advertisements which guide people on how to combat heat wave. Hospitals in cities like Cuttack and Sambalpur deploy extra resources to attend to heat stroke patients. The ambulance network is activated and directed to be ready along the state and national highways. The government takes the help of the civil society in spreading awareness.

During April-June, the government’s state-level and district-level calamity centres continuously monitor the India Meteorological Department (IMD) temperature forecast and devise their strategies at local levels.

In Odisha, not all districts report high temperatures. But districts with high industrial activity report the maximum temperature rise. So, the district authorities devise their own action plans.
Heat wave is predictable and one can easily point out time band and places. We can’t stop it, but we can prepare well to reduce human casualties.

Seismic gap and decollement.

A seismic gap is a segment of an active fault known to produce significant earthquakes, that has not slipped in an unusually long time when compared with other segments along the same structure. Seismic gap hypothesis/theory states that, over long periods of time, the displacement on any segment must be equal to that experienced by all the other parts of the fault.Any large and longstanding gap is therefore considered to be the fault segment most likely to suffer future earthquakes.

One such is the central seismic gap, which runs northeast of Delhi along a region woven with unstable faults and including over 10 million people. Until April 25, observers had been concerned by the paucity of earthquakes in the gap: the longer there were no quakes, the more the pent up stresses, and the stronger a future quake will be. A research team’s conclusion describes an active thrust fault below Uttarakhand pregnant with enough tension to unleash a quake measuring at least 8 on the Richter scale. This, in a state already prone to crippling landslides and floods, and with 70% of its population (of about 10 million) residing in rural areas. They attribute the tremendous tension to a geometry of rock that has partially separated from a layer beneath and caused folds and deformations. The technical term for this geometry is a décollement:the landscape and erosion rate patterns suggest that the décollement beneath the state of Uttarakhand provides a sufficiently large and coherent fault segment capable of hosting a great earthquake.

Décollement (detachment) folds develop during folding, secondary to separation of a (more competent) layer from an underlying (less competent) layer as deformation proceeds.

Child labour In India Kailash Satyarthi

Banning child labour is a prerequisite for eradication of poverty I appreciate the efforts of the labour ministry regarding the passage of pending legislation to ban child labour for children under the age of 14. While a Parliamentary Standing Committee consisting of cross-party law makers had already cleared the bill, to my utter surprise the bill has been referred back to the labour ministry, citing the hushed reason that child labour cannot be completely banned due to poverty.

Even today, ordinary citizens, academia and many politicians are victims of a misbelief that child labour is a necessary evil in a country like India. Having worked in this area for the last 35 years, i can emphatically say that nothing could be further from the truth. I take it as my responsibility to debunk a few myths surrounding poverty and child labour.

There exists a vicious circle between poverty, illiteracy and child labour. Child labour and poverty have a chicken-and-egg relationship. A child born in a poor family begins life in a disadvantaged position, most often missing school. Children excluded from education grow up to be illiterate and economically vulnerable. These children are at high risk of exploitation and are more likely to be pulled into child labour at the cost of their health, education and well-being.

Another key fact that people ignore is that parents of most child labourers are essentially jobless or underemployed. There are almost 168 million child labourers worldwide and 200 million unemployed adults, with parallels existing in most developing countries.

Most of the jobs done by child labourers are essentially regular jobs that have been forced on kids. There are jobs, there are unemployed adults, but still millions of children are pushed into labour. Why? Simply because, children are the cheapest form of labour available. They are not aware of their rights, are easily misled and are too young to speak against their conditions, but our laws permit employers to exploit these hapless souls.

The truth remains that a working child will not extricate his or her family out of poverty, in fact it will keep the family stuck in the rut for generations.

This slippery slope continues unabated till one such child is imparted education. It is a well-researched, but often ignored fact that child labour perpetuates poverty. A report by International Labour Organisation verifies that every $1 spent on the eradication of child labour would return $7 over the next two decades.

Also, another report says that a single year of primary school education increases the wages people earn later in life by 5 to 15% for boys and even more for girls. Child labour is hence the biggest obstacle to development and must be tackled in tandem with poverty alleviation schemes.

India’s ranking among the fastest growing nations in the world will stand shaken if its children are continually marginalised. A recently completed study from 50 countries established that every extra year of schooling provided to the whole population can increase average annual GDP growth by 0.37%. Where the education is of good quality, the improvement of cognitive skills increases the impact to 1%.

Let me also debunk a myth regarding child labour law. We are demanding a complete ban on child labour up to the age of 14. It nowhere means that children cannot help their families in their free time.

They definitely can, but not at the cost of their education, health and leisure time. Also, a child cannot be involved in a commercial activity even at home. The proposed child labour law provides for this. This point is important because several law-breaking employers fake familial connections with the child labourer to escape punishment.

The existing Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act passed in 1986, bans child labour only in so-called hazardous occupations for children under the age of 14. In other words, this law bans only 20% of all child labour in India and is silent on the rest 80%.

Our Constitution and the Right to Education law guarantees free and compulsory education to all children between 6 and 14, as their right. As far as children between 15 to 18 are concerned, the Juvenile Justice Act safeguards this age group from all kinds of abuse and exploitation. However, the current child labour law is mute about treatment of these young adults.

The new amendment must harmonise with the Right to Education law and the Juvenile Justice Act, thus paving the way for protection of our children and their future.

We are also demanding a complete ban on the worst forms of child labour such as hazardous work, bonded labour, child prostitution, illicit militia and forced beggary for children in the age of 15 to 18 years. This age group is the most vulnerable to abusive situations and violence. The government must take effective measures to give all children an education that enhances their employability, entrepreneurship and ethics.

We as a country must invest in imparting skill-based education to our youth. This will go a long way in ensuring that the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to harness the demographic dividend of India is fully realised.

The writer is a child rights activist. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. via TOI blog. 

Child labour in India

Child labour is the practice of having children engage in economic activity, on part or full-time basis. The practice deprives children of their childhood, and is harmful to their physical and mental development. Poverty, lack of good schools and growth of informal economy are considered as the important causes of child labour in India.

A 2009-2010 nationwide survey found child labour prevalence had reduced to 4.98 million children (or less than 2% of children in 5-14 age group). The 2011 national census of India found the total number of child labour, aged 5–14, to be at 4.35 million and the total child population to be 259.64 million in that age group. The child labour problem is not unique to India; worldwide, about 217 million children work, many full-time.

Indian law specifically defines 64 industries as hazardous and it is a criminal offence to employ children in such hazardous industries. Constitution of India prohibits child labour in hazardous industries (but not in non-hazardous industries) as a Fundamental Right under Article 24. International Labour Organisation estimates that agriculture at 60 percent is the largest employer of child labour in the world Outside of agriculture, child labour is observed in almost all informal sectors of the Indian economy.

Companies including Gap, Primark, Monsanto, have been criticised for child labour in their products.

In December 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor and India figured among 74 countries where significant incidence of critical working conditions has been observed.

Article 24 of India’s constitution prohibits child labour. Additionally, various laws and the Indian Penal Code, such as the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) of Children Act-2000, and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Abolition) Act-1986 provide a basis in law to identify, prosecute and stop child labour in India.

Many NGOs like Bachpan Bachao Andolan, CARE India, Talaash Association Child Rights and You, Global march against child labour, RIDE India, Childline etc. have been working to eradicate child labour in India.

Pratham is India’s largest non-governmental organisation with the mission ‘every child in school and learning well. Founded in 1995, Pratham has aimed to reduce child labour and offer schooling to children irrespective of their gender, religion and social background. It has grown by introducing low cost education models that are sustainable and reproducible.

Child labour has also been a subject of public interest litigations in Indian courts.

More than 300,000 children are estimated to be working in the carpet industry, the majority of them in bondage.

The great majority of the carpet weavers’ bonded brothers and sisters are working in the agricultural sector, tending cattle and goats, picking tea leaves on vast plantations, and working fields of sugar cane and basic crops all across the country. Apart from agriculture, which accounts for 64 percent of all labor in India, bonded child laborers form a significant part of the work force in a multitude of domestic and export industries. These include, but are not limited to, the production of silk and silk saris, beedi (hand-rolled cigarettes), silver jewelry, synthetic gemstones, leather products (including footwear and sporting goods), handwoven wool carpets, and precious gemstones and diamonds. Services where bonded child labor is prevalent include prostitution, small restaurants, truck stops and tea shop services, and domestic servitude.

India has a federal form of government, and child labour is a matter on which both the central government and country governments can legislate, and have. The major national legislative developments include the following:

The Factories Act of 1948: The Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory. The law also placed rules on who, when and how long can pre-adults aged 15–18 years be employed in any factory.
The Mines Act of 1952: The Act prohibits the employment of children below 18 years of age in a mine.
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986: The Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in hazardous occupations identified in a list by the law. The list was expanded in 2006, and again in 2008.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000: This law made it a crime, punishable with a prison term, for anyone to procure or employ a child in any hazardous employment or in bondage.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009: The law mandates free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 years. This legislation also mandated that 25 percent of seats in every private school must be allocated for children from disadvantaged groups and physically challenged children.

India formulated a National Policy on Child Labour in 1987. This Policy seeks to adopt a gradual & sequential approach with a focus on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations. It envisioned strict enforcement of Indian laws on child labour combined with development programs to address the root causes of child labour such as poverty. In 1988, this led to the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) initiative. Despite these efforts, child labour remains a major challenge for India.
April 2015

In a controversial labour reform, the government plans to push through an amendment to the Child Labour Prohibition Act which will allow children below the age of 14 to work in select family enterprises if it doesn’t hamper their education.

A draft provision in the Child Labour Prohibition Act says the prohibition will not apply if children are helping the family in fields, forests and home-based work after school hours or during vacations, or while attending technical institutions. The new norm will also apply to the entertainment industry and sports except the circus, a proposal by the labour ministry says.

“While the provision will especially help poor families where children help in family subsistence, we have enough safeguards to ensure that these children are not forced by families to work in any industry.” As sdaid above, India has seen a sharp drop in the number of child labourers in the last decade, down to 4.3 million from 12.6 million, according to census data. Industries such as fireworks, matchboxes, footwear and carpet making are the biggest employer of children below the permitted age.

The original child labour law banned employment of children below 14 in only 18 hazardous industries, but the UPA government in 2012 proposed to extend the ban to all industries. It also introduced a new category of adolescents — 14 to 18 years — who were banned from hazardous industries, but allowed to work in other sectors.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Bill, 2012, introduced in the Rajya Sabha, recommended a complete ban on child labour until they finish elementary education, guaranteed under the Right to Education Act.

The relevance of Ambedkar N. RAM

An assessment of the legacy of the oppressed intellectual and social rebel Babasaheb Ambedkar in the 125th year of his birth, especially in the context of the Hindu Right’s efforts to appropriate him. By N. RAM

 AS democratic India prepares to celebrate the 125th year of his birth, Babasaheb Ambedkar stands taller than he ever did before—his role in the struggle for a modern, democratic, and socially just India greatly enhanced at the expense of various other outstanding national figures who were contemporaries and opponents during the great battles of the freedom movement era. This is essentially because the deep-seated and central problems spotlighted by his life, struggles, studies, and experimentation in ideas remain alive and kicking while the searching and often profound questions he raised about Indian society remain basically unanswered.

Ambedkar was born Bhimrao on April 14, 1891, at Mhow in central India in an austere and religious Mahar family with a military service background and unusual respect for education. In school (Satara and Bombay), college (Bombay), service under the Maharaja of Baroda (briefly in 1913 and again between July and November 1917), and study abroad (Columbia University, the London School of Economics, Gray’s Inn, the University of Bonn), the young man displayed a scholarly orientation, a commitment to the life of the mind, and well-honed intellectual gifts that few other contemporary political leaders of the era could match.

Bhimrao benefited from opportunities that had just opened up, which none in his family or, for that matter, in the recorded history of his people had access to. Yet every one of his academic, intellectual, and professional achievements was hard-earned, in social battle, against entrenched oppression, discrimination, and anti-human caste prejudice. By the time he was finished with his formal studies in the early 1920s, Ambedkar had acquired qualifications that surpassed the M.A., Ph.D., M.Sc. (Econ), D.Sc. (Econ), and Barrister-at-law he had added, by right, to his name and title. By the time he was 30, he had been through a real-life education that most people, including the most renowned scholars, do not acquire in a lifetime.

There may be various opinions on the formidable range of issues and controversies in which Ambedkar figured as a protagonist during four decades of his public life—which can be said to have begun with the brilliant paper he did on “The Castes in India, Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development” for Alexander Goldenweiser’s anthropology seminar in New York in May 1916.

Ambedkar was a transparently honest, challenging, and eclectic liberal thinker. He was attracted to utilitarianism, and eventually to Buddhism, in philosophy. He found inspiration in the ideals of the French Revolution and also in the socially forward-looking and humanistic elements and values in Indian culture and civilisation over the millennia. He delved into the Marxist classics, going so far as to claim, during the historic anti-khot mobilisation of peasants in Bombay in early 1938, that “I have definitely read studiously more books on the Communist philosophy than all Communist leaders here”. However, he was not persuaded either by the revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism or by the practice of socialism in his time.

He was sharply and emphatically opposed to Gandhism and to the Congress’ ideology, although on certain social issues he held views in common with Jawaharlal Nehru—who, as Prime Minister, badly let down his Minister of Law on the Hindu Code Bill in the early 1950s.

Courageous experimenter

From his early days, Ambedkar stood out as a restless and courageous experimenter who did not always get it right when it came to balancing values and practical considerations that seemed to be in conflict. He had fallen in love with great ideas as a socially oppressed and humiliated schoolboy who refused to be treated with condescension by anyone, including Baroda’s royalty. Throughout his life, which ended a couple of months after he publicly embraced Buddhism along with his followers, he was interested in the big picture. The boy who was barred, by the curse of untouchability, from playing cricket with his schoolmates in Satara never took his eye off the ball. He concentrated in his public life on attainable, practical goals. And he never became too big to go into specifics, details, doubts, books, and the problems of ordinary people, especially the lowliest of the low in Indian society.

During Ambedkar’s lifetime, his many opponents and critics, especially Congressmen, alleged from time to time that he had missed the main strategic task of the era. Such criticism gained wide currency, especially in the press which tended to patronise him as a sort of sub-national leader, a sectional leader of the Scheduled Castes rather than the towering and challenging national figure he was in an objective sense. Unfortunately, some of the heroes of the freedom struggle, social reactionaries themselves, completely missed the point about how Ambedkar’s studious, tough-minded, powerful social questioning and battles fitted in the overall picture. Some of them even questioned his patriotism and called him names, but who remembers them today? Looking at this inspiring but contradictory freedom movement experience in the early 21st century light, we can begin to appreciate why Ambedkar was unerringly on target on social questions and his critics and opponents dead wrong.

Big social questions raised by Ambedkar

It can be argued that one of the defining weaknesses of India’s freedom movement was its underestimation, if not neglect, of the big social questions raised by Ambedkar and its compromising stance on these questions, notably onsanatana dharma.

The time has come to recognise that Ambedkar represented the profound side of the social struggle that was not adequately represented in the Congress-led nationalist movement. Standing to the right of centre in his political outlook, he tended towards radicalism and uncompromising struggle in the social arena in which he spearheaded many a battle. His lifelong concern with the inequities and oppression embedded in religion, conventional morality, and the values of so-called mainstream society led him to forge his own conception of socio-economic justice in an idealistic sense. He turned his back on class analysis, which might have given him new insights, but he seemed intuitively to grasp the link between caste and class in India. What is impressive is that this doughty fighter for social justice who considered himself a political liberal and was sought to be marginalised by his opponents during key moments of the freedom struggle commands a powerful following today as democratic India grapples with the troubling questions he never tired of raising in politics and public life.

Ideologically, Ambedkar may have stood to the right of centre, but at times he moved sharply the other way, to the radical side. This happened especially when his ideas, campaigns, and political organisational work were backed by powerful mass movements, for example during the 1938 workers’ struggle in Bombay against the anti-strike Bill. He was the builder of the Independent Labour Party, which did not take off at the all-India level but yielded some useful political, ideological, and organisational lessons to the opposition around the country.

Notwithstanding his chairmanship of the Constitution Draft Committee in the Constituent Assembly and his stint in the Union Ministry under Prime Minister Nehru, Ambedkar can be considered the founder of non-Congressism and anti-Congressism in Indian politics. Even while championing social egalitarianism and popular liberties and criticising the sway of big business and landlordism, and campaigning for social and economic democracy, he remained a conscious ideological and political adversary of Marxism-Leninism and Communism.

He had a number of interesting things to say about complicated and difficult national problems—Kashmir, language, nationhood, citizenship, ethnicity, and so on. His analysis lit up the field for a proper democratic understanding of cooperative federalism and Centre-State relations in India. On international questions and foreign policy, his approach was that of a conservative dissenting from non-alignment and from the Nehruvian, not to mention the Left’s, world view.

The social and class basis of the following he commanded; the radical nature of his social questioning; his passion for social justice; his openness to modern, scientific, and rational ideas; his unyielding secularism and forward-looking views on a number of questions, especially on the condition and future of women, and on what it took to make a civil society; his great intellectual gifts, tireless curiosity, and wide-ranging interests; his ability to concentrate on attainable, practical goals; and his constructive sense of realism—these marked him out as a unique kind of leader.

The current national situation is framed by the political and social ascendancy of the Hindu Right and the ideological and political offensive by majority communalism and social reaction. Hindutva is even attempting, against the grain of history, to appropriate Ambedkar’s legacy. In this situation, his uncompromising analysis of the caste system, ofchaturvarnya and sanatana dharma, of notions of pollution, of unalterable or rigid social hierarchy, and of the implications of the hegemony of the shastras must be read, re-read, and made part of a national debate. His major theoretical exposition of such questions is contained in a 1936 presidential address which stirred up a hornet’s nest, the radical Annihilation of Caste to which the writer Arundhati Roy, in a long introductory essay, has provided fresh meaning and context. This intellectual contribution to the building of a new India must be ranked on a par with Babasaheb’s signal and justly celebrated contribution to the making of a Republican Constitution.

Social endosmosis

In this work, Ambedkar emphasised the anti-social, anti-progress character of an unjust social order as well as its vital connection, through networks of force and ideology, with political power. The caste system, in his analysis, militated against fraternity, “sanghatan and cooperation for a good cause”, public charity and broad-based virtue and morality. When critics challenged him to specify his “ideal society” in lieu of a caste-based order, he replied: “My ideal would be a society based on liberty, equality, and fraternity.” He specified that his ideal society would be mobile; there would be “social endosmosis”. There would be fraternity, which was only another name for democracy, and democracy was primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoining communicated experience and breeding an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellow human beings.

“Chaturvarnya must fail for the very reason for which Plato’s Republic must fail,” warned the oppressed intellectual as social rebel. He pointed out that “the lower classes of Hindus” were “completely disabled for direct action on account of a wretched system”. He asserted: “There cannot be a more degrading system of social organisation…. It is the system which deadens, paralyses, and cripples the people from helpful activity.” He attempted to follow through the implications of this system in the political sphere. To Ambedkar, the real remedy was “to destroy the belief in the sanctity of the shastras” and their caste-borne tyranny.

It was no wonder that Gandhi, a notable compromiser in such matters, declared more than half a century ago: “Dr Ambedkar is a challenge to Hinduism.” He remains so today, which is why the votaries of Hindutva and the forces that form part of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) constellation cannot afford to ignore him.

One battle in which social orthodoxy and opportunist politics allied to defeat social progress was the instructive fight over the Hindu Code Bill in the late 1940s and the early 1950s. One of the leading authors of the Constitution led the effort to institute a reasonably forward-looking and egalitarian Hindu Code law but it was sabotaged by orthodox elements. The Congress party, despite Nehru’s claim to rationality and progressivism, refused to support the Bill. The abandonment of this forward-looking legislative measure meant the betrayal of Ambedkar’s vision on such critical issues.

His solid contribution to constitutional and institution-building aside, he had a great deal to say about democracy as a real way of life and about citizens’ rights, about authoritarianism, and also about a healthy democratic political system. He detested hereditary, dynastic rule and a one-party system. “To have popular government run by a single party is to let democracy become a mere form for despotism to play its parts from behind it,” is a typical Ambedkar formulation. He warned: “Despotism does not cease to be despotism because it is elective. The real guarantee against despotism is to confront it with the possibility of its dethronement, of its being laid low, of its being superseded by a rival party.” Ambedkar clearly had little use for political stability premised on a single-party rule, or on a social philosophy of “letting sleeping dogs lie”.

Two of his political admonitions are of particular contemporary relevance. Do not lay liberties at the feet of a great man; in politics, bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation. Make political democracy a social democracy; resolve the contradictions, else they will undermine democracy itself.

Describe Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between two areas (or poles, hence a dipole) – a western pole in the Arabian Sea (western Indian Ocean) and an eastern pole in the eastern Indian Ocean south of Indonesia. The IOD affects the climate of Australia and other countries that surround the Indian Ocean Basin, and is a significant contributor to rainfall variability in this region.

The IOD involves an aperiodic oscillation of sea-surface temperatures, between “positive”, “neutral” and “negative” phases. A positive phase sees greater-than-average sea-surface temperatures and greater precipitation in the western Indian Ocean region, with a corresponding cooling of waters in the eastern Indian Ocean—which tends to cause droughts in adjacent land areas of Indonesia and Australia. The negative phase of the IOD brings about the opposite conditions, with warmer water and greater precipitation in the eastern Indian Ocean, and cooler and drier conditions in the west.

The IOD also affects the strength of monsoons over the Indian subcontinent. ‘Positive IOD’ has been found to be beneficial for the monsoon. On the other hand, a ‘negative IOD,’ when temperatures at either end of the Indian Ocean swing in the opposite direction, hampers the monsoon.

An IOD can counter or worsen an El Nino’s impact on the monsoon, according to recent research. A positive IOD had facilitated normal or excess rainfall over India in 1983, 1994 and 1997 despite an El Nino in those years. But during years such as 1992, a negative IOD and El Nino had cooperatively produced deficit rainfall.

What is ‘Kaal Baisakhi’?

During the hot weather period i.e from March to May the eastern and North-eastern states of the subcontinent like West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Orissa (parts) and Bangladesh experience dramatic appearance of a special type of violent thunderstorm know as Nor’wester.The dramatic appearance of nor’wester in the afternoon or evening of pre-monsoon months over Bengal, Bihar, Assam and adjoining areas has been a matter of great interest not only to the meteorologists but to all sections of people and has a place in literature. Nor’wester not only gives relief after mid-day heat but helps crops.

It is known as ‘Kaal Baisakhi’ or calamity of the month of Baisakh (April,15-May,15). Apart from its destructive effects like sudden rise in wind speed, lightning, thunder and hail the rainfall associated with the storm although small in amount, is extremely helpful for the pre-Kharif crops like jute, Aus paddy, summer till and a large number of vegetables and fruits and the sudden drop in temperature gives relief after unbearable mid-day heat.

It struck Bihar yesterday and thirty-two people were killed and over 80 seriously injured as the nor’wester ravaged several districts last night, destroying thousands of huts and standing crops.

Maximum number of 25 deaths were reported from Purnia district, while six have died in Madhepura and one in Madhubani.

Indian Express today covers it so well. Here is the link