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  • History of Banking in the World

      Anupama Nair The practice of lending and borrowing may be as old as the invention of money. Isn’t it fascinating to see what our ancestors did in financial transactions and how they did it without any technology that we have today! “To purchase grains from the market, buy and sell cattle, textiles, craftsmanship! No matter what their needs were, they were not much different from ours.  Banking has been around since the first currencies were minted, may be even before that, in some form or other. Currency, especially coins, grew out of taxation. As empires expanded, functional systems were needed to collect taxes and distribute wealth. The history of banking began when empires needed a way to pay for foreign goods and services with something that could be exchanged easily. Coins of varying sizes and metals eventually replaced fragile, impermanent paper bills. Banking as a concept was born in ancient Mesopotamia in the 8th Century. The birth of money originated in ancient Babylon Coins, however, had to be kept in a safe place, and ancient homes did not have steel safes or lockers. According to World History Encyclopedia, “wealthy people in ancient Rome, India and Greece kept their coins and jewels in the basements of temples”. The presence of priests or temple workers, who were assumed devout and honest, and armed guards added a sense of security. The recent incident at Padmanabha Swamy Temple in the Travancore Kingdom or present-day Trivandrum in Kerala is an example where unimaginable gold coins, ornaments, precious stones etc., were found hidden in vaults inside the temple. It is said the Maharaja had hid the wealth to protect it from the British East India Company. Historical records from India, Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Ancient Babylon suggested that temples lent money in addition to keeping it safe. The fact that most temples also functioned as the financial centers of their cities is a major reason why they were ransacked frequently during wars. An example of this is the Somnath Temple in Gujarat that was attacked by Invaders 17 times. Coins could be hoarded more easily than other commodities, so a class of wealthy merchants took to lending coins, with interest, to people in need. Temples typically handled large loans to various Kings, and wealthy merchant money lenders handled the rest of the people. The Romans, who were expert builders and administrators, removed banking from the temples and formalized it within distinct buildings. During this time, moneylenders still profited, similar to the loan sharks today, but most legitimate commerce and almost all government spending involved the use of an institutional bank.The Roman Empire eventually disintegrated, but some of its banking institutions lived on in the form of the papal bankers that emerged in the Holy Roman Empire and the Knights Templar during the Crusades. Small-time moneylenders that competed with the Church were often denounced for moneylending. Eventually, the various monarchs that reigned over Europe noted the strengths of banking institutions. As banks existed by the grace, and occasionally explicit charters and contracts, of the ruling kings, the royal powers began to take loans to make up for hard times when the royal treasury was almost empty, but on the king's terms. This easy financing led kings into unnecessary extravagances, costly wars, and arms races with neighboring kingdoms that would often lead to crushing debt. The birth of Modern banking was in Italy, where there was trade practice between merchants and Jewish Moneylenders. Jews used to live in Moorish Spain and England. After the genocides of the Jews in England in 1200 AD, they settled down in Italy. In 1557, Philip II of Spain managed to burden his kingdom with so much debt as the result of several unnecessary wars  and it was the beginning of the world's first national bankruptcy. This occurred because 40% of the country's Gross National Product  (GNP) was going toward servicing the debt. The trend of turning a blind eye to the creditworthiness of big and influential customers continues to haunt banks even today. Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi are apt examples. Banking was already well-established in the British Empire when Adam Smith introduced the ‘Theory of the Wealth of Nations’ in March 1776. Authorized by his views of a self-regulated economy, moneylenders and bankers managed to limit the state's involvement in the banking sector and the economy as a whole. Bank notes were first issued in London in the 17th Century where they were used as receipts for deposit at the Goldsmith’s. These receipts soon became known as our modern money after the Promissory Note Act of 1704. This free-market capitalism and competitive banking found fruitful ground in the New World, where the United States of America was just about to get Independent from Great Britain on July 4 1776. The birth of USA signified the birth of a modern democratic country, when the world especially Asia, Australia and Africa was in the grasp of Imperialism Initially, Smith's ideas did not benefit the American banking industry. The average shelf life for an American bank was mostly five years, after which most currency notes from the defaulted banks became worthless. These state-chartered banks could, after all, only issue banknotes against the gold and silver coins they had held in reserve. Alexander Hamilton, a former Secretary of Treasury, established a national bank that would accept member banknotes at par, thus floating banks through difficult times. “After a few stops, starts, cancellations, and resurrections, this national bank created a uniform national currency called Dollar and set up a system by which national banks backed their notes by purchasing Treasury securities, thus creating a liquid market. However, the average Americans in those days had already grown to distrust banks and bankers in general, and the state of Texas outlawed corporate banks till 1904! Most of the economic duties that would have been handled by the national banking system, in addition to regular banking business like loans and corporate finance, was handled instead by large merchant banks because the national banking system was irregular. These banks included Goldman Sachs, Kuhn, Loeb and  Co., and J.P. Morgan. Originally, they relied heavily on commissions from sales of foreign bond  from Europe, with a small back-flow of American bonds trading in Europe. This allowed them to build the necessary capital. At that time, a bank was under no legal obligation to disclose its capital reserves, an indication of its ability to survive large, above-average loan losses. This mysterious practice meant that a bank's reputation and history mattered more than anything. While banks came and went, these family-held merchant banks had long histories of successful transactions. As large industries emerged and created the need for corporate finance, the amounts of capital required could not be provided by any single bank, and so initial public offerings (IPOs) and bond offerings to the public became the only way to raise the required capital. The public in the United States, and foreign investors in Europe, knew very little about investing because a disclosure as we have today, was not legally enforced. Many issues were largely ignored, according to the public's perception of the guaranteeing banks. Consequently, successful offerings increased a bank's reputation and put it in a position to ask for more to underwrite an offer. By the late 1800s, many banks demanded a position on the boards of the companies seeking capital, and if the management proved lacking, they ran the companies themselves. The collapse in the shares of a copper trust set off a panic, and stock sell-offs, which caused shares to plummet. There was no Federal Reserve Bank to take action then, to calm people down, and the responsibility  fell to John Pierpont Morgan to stop the panic. Morgan used his considerable clout to gather all the major players on Wall Street to exercise the credit and capital they controlled, just as the Federal Bank would do today. Ironically, this show of supreme power in saving the U.S. economy ensured that no private banker would ever again wield that power. As it had taken J.P. Morgan, a banker who was disliked by much of America along with Carnegie and Rockefeller, to save the economy, the government formed the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913. Although the merchant banks influenced the structure of the Central Bank, they were also pushed into the background by its formation. Even after the establishment of the Central Bank, financial power and residual political power were concentrated on Wall Street. When World War I broke out, America became a global lender and replaced London as the center of the financial world by the end of the war. Unfortunately, a Republican administration after the War, put some unconventional shackles on the banking sector. The government insisted that all debtor nations must pay back their war loans, which traditionally were forgiven, especially in the case of Allied Powers (USA, UK, France and Russia) before any American institution would extend them further credit. This slowed down world trade and caused many countries to become hostile toward American goods. When the stock market crashed on ‘Black Tuesday’ in 1929, the already sluggish world economy was knocked out. The Central Bank couldn't contain the crash and refused to stop the Depression or the Wall Street Catastrophe as it was called and the aftermath had immediate consequences for all banks. A clear line was drawn between banks and investors. In 1933, banks were no longer allowed to gamble with deposits, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) regulations were enacted to convince the public that it was safe to approach the banks. No one was fooled and the Depression continued. World War II may have saved the banking industry from complete destruction. World War II and the industriousness it generated stopped the downward spiral afflicting the United States and world economies.    

  • Shivaji Raje – The Founder of Idea of Swaraj

      Anupama Nair Our great Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the Amrit Mahotsav or celebration of  India’s 75th year of Independence. We will be celebrating this event till 2022. I am going to write a feature on all those great men and women who fought against foreign invasion not just against the British. Today I am going to write about the greatest sons of Bharat Ma – Hindu Hridaya Samrat, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. From him I learnt about the importance of Swaraj and Swadharm and “freedom is the birthright of all beings in the world and should never be taken for granted”. His life inspired many nationalists to fight for our Independence, and finally we are free today. Shivaji Bhonsle, also known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was a great warrior king and a member of the Bhonsle clan. Shivaji carved out an “enclave from the declining Adilshahi Sultanate of Bijapur that formed the genesis of the Maratha Empire”. Shivaji was born in the hill-fort city of  Shivneri, in Poona District on February 19, 1630 to Shahaji Bhonsle and Jija Bai. Shivaji was named after a local deity -- the goddess Shivai. Shivaji's father was a Maratha general who served the Deccan Sultanates.  At the time of Shivaji's birth, power in Deccan was shared by three Islamic sultanates: Bijapur, Ahmenagar and Golconda. Shivaji’s guru was Dadaji Konddeo. It was his brave mother Jija Bai, who made her great son Chhatrapati. Right from his childhood, Jija mata would tell him about the lives of Shri Ram, Maruti, Shri Krishna and also stories from Mahabharata and Ramayana to make him pious and patriotic. Thus, she molded him into an ideal ruler by sowing seeds of devotion to the idea of Swaraj and Swadharma. She was not only a mother to Shivaji, but also a source of inspiration to her son. She had a strong faith that she was blessed by Devi Bhavani and Bhagwan Mahadev. She always backed her great husband Shahaji Bhosle and her son fearlessly and resolutely. When her husband or son would be in perilous situations, she would ardently pray to Bhavani Mata night and day, for their protection and safe return. She was loved and respected by all her family members and was looked upon as the support system in the family Many of Shivaji's comrades, and later a number of his soldiers, came from the Maval region, including Yesaji Kank, Suryaji Kakade, Baji Pasalkar, Baji Deshpande and Tanaji Malusare. Shivaji traveled the hills and forests of the Sahyadri Hills  with his friends, gaining skills and familiarity with the land that would prove useful in his military career. In 1639, Shahaji was stationed at Bangalore, which was conquered from the Nayaks who had taken control after the disintegration of the Vijaynagara Empire. Shivaji was taken to Bangalore where he, his elder brother Sambhaji, and his half-brother Ekoji were further formally trained. He married Sai Bai, from the prominent Nimbalkar family in 1640. As early as 1645, the teenage Shivaji expressed his concept for Hindavi Swarajya (Indian self-rule), in a letter. The kingdom of Bijapur under Adil Shah was a great enemy of Shivaji. In 1655, he collected a band of followers, to seize Bijapur’s weaker  outposts. His daring and military skill, combined with his harshness toward the “oppressors of the Hindus”, won him much admiration. When the Sultan of Bijapur in 1659 sent an army of 20,000 under Afẕal Khan to defeat him, Shivaji, pretending to be intimidated, enticed the force deep into difficult mountain terrain.  Earlier, Afzal Khan had killed Jija’s elder son, Sambhaji Raje in a military expedition of Kanakagiri by firing a cannon deceitfully. Later Afzal Khan set his sights on capturing Shivaji Maharaj. In this endeavor, he was unstoppable, burning fields and inhumanly murdering people, as he headed swiftly towards Raigad. In this situation, if Shivaji Maharaj was to clash with Afzal Khan’s army, the Maratha army’s defeat was inevitable, and  if Shivaji was to meet Afzal Khan to sign a treaty, he would certainly not return. So, Shivaji’s sardars and his learned ministers advised him to move to a safe place, away from Afzal Khan. But, Jija Bai ordered Shivaji to meet Afzal Khan and slay him and display the Maratha valor to the world. And Shivaji killed Afzal Khan with tiger claws. Meanwhile, some troops that had been previously positioned, swooped down on the unwary Bijapur army and defeated it. Overnight, Shivaji had become a “daunting warlord, possessing the horses, the guns, and the ammunition of the Bijapur army”. After defeating the army of Bijapur, Shivaji's army marched towards Konkan and Kolhapur. They seized the Panhala Fort, and defeated again the army of Bijapur under Rustam Zaman and Fazl Khan in 1659. In 1660, Adilshah sent his general Siddi Jauhar to attack Shivaji's southern border, in alliance with the Mughals who planned to attack from the north. At that time, Shivaji was living in Panhala Fort with his forces. Siddi Jauhar's army attacked Panhala, cutting off all supply routes to the fort. For the bombardment of the Panhala Fort, Siddi Jauhar had earlier, purchased grenades from the English East India Company at Rajapur to increase his efficiency, and also hired some English artillerymen to assist him in his war with Shivaji. The betrayal angered Shivaji, who retaliated by plundering the English factory at Rajapur and captured four men, who were released after some months. When Shivaji Maharaj was trapped for four months when Siddi Jauhar had besieged Panhala fort, Jija had shouldered the responsibility of Swaraj till Shivaji escaped from the besieged fort. Jija Bai led the Marathas who were fighting Shaista Khan thus protecting the idea of Swaraj. Did you know Shivaji, was the first Indian king who built a strong navy? When Shivaji became the master of a long coastal strip, he undertook, the construction of a Navy. Shivaji realized that the one who had a navy, became the master of the sea. To protect his own territory from Siddi's attacks, to protect the merchant ships and ports in order to secure and enhance revenue incomes derived from maritime trade and customs duty, he concentrated on building the Navy. There were four hundred ships of various kinds in the Navy. They most famous battleships were Gurab, Galbat and Pal. Shivaji’s greatness and love for Swaraj reached the ears of the cruelest Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who wanted to add the parts of Maratha Empire to his own. For expansion of  his idea of  Swaraj, conflict with the Mughals was inevitable. Aurangzeb chose Shaista khan, to be the Viceroy of the Deccan, ordering him to invade and annex Shivaji dominions. Shaista khan left Ahmednagar in 1660 and arrived in Pune. He decided to capture the fort of Chakan to obtain supplies. Though the killedar of the fort of Chakan, Firangoji Narsala offered a strong resistance to Shaista khan’s army, the Mughals captured the fort of Chakan. Shaista khan captured Swaraj's territories Pune and Supe and set up a camp at Lal Mahal in Pune. The Mughal army began to destroy the regions around Pune. Shaista Khan adopted the strategy to occupy as much of Shivaji Maharaj’s territories as possible. Forces were dispatched to invade the Konkan region below the Ghats, Kalyan and Bhiwandi were captured by the Mughal army. Shaista Khan appointed Kartalab Khan on an expedition to the North Konkan. Shivaji defeated Kartalab Khan in Umbarkhind. He left Netoji Palkar to defend the North Konkan and he himself marched southwards and captured Dabhol, Chiplun, Sangameshwar, Rajapur, Palavani and Shringarpur. Even after two years, Shaista Khan still would not think of leaving Pune. Shivaji Maharaj devised a bold plan, to drive away Shaista Khan. He raided Lal Mahal and in this raid, Shaista Khan lost his fingers. He was forced to leave Pune and shifted his camp to Aurangabad. The successful attack on Shaista khan resulted in the people believing the capabilities of Shivaji. In three years’, time, Shaista Khan had ravaged the territories of the Swaraj. It was necessary to make up this loss. Surat was the richest and most prosperous port of the Mughal Empire on the west coast. Europeans i.e., the British, the Dutch and the French all had their factories there. Shivaji then devised a plan of attack on Surat. The Subedar of Surat could not put up any resistance to the Maratha army. Shivaji Maharaj obtained enormous wealth from Surat. The Surat campaign was a stunning blow to emperor Aurangzeb’s prestige. Shivaji then built  forts Suvarnadurg,  Sindhudurg and Vijaydurg. He also built a fort named Padmadurg on a small island near Rajpuri in order to counter the power of the Mughals. With a view to crush growing power of Shivaji Maharaj, Aurangzeb sent Jai Singh of Ambar, an experienced and powerful Mughal Sardar. Jai Singh's strategy was to isolate Shivaji Maharaj from his neighboring powers so that he would get neither help nor support from them, to prevent him from breaking out into the Mughal territory, to devastate his homeland and capture his forts. As per this strategy he was trying to provoke the Adilshahi against Shivaji Maharaj. Jai Singh was concurrently instigating local rulers in the Karnataka against the Adilshah, so that the latter would be unable to help Shivaji. Jai Singh requested the Europeans to start a naval campaign against Shivaji. He also drew up a plan of capturing the forts in possession of Shivaji. Jai Singh and Diler Khan led siege to the fort of Purandar. Mughal forces were sent to various parts of Swaraj to devastate the territories. Shivaji tried hard to resist the Mughals. When the Mughals put the fort of Purandar under siege, Murarbaji Deshpande fought with the greatest courage and died a hero’s death. Shivaji realized that in the conflict with the Mughals, his subjects had to face great losses. He began talks for a treaty with Jai Singh. A treaty between Jai Singh and Shivaji was signed in June 1665 which is known as ‘Treaty of Purandar’. In accordance with the terms of the treaty, he had to cede twenty-three forts and adjacent areas yielding a revenue of Rs four lakh to the Mughals. He also assured the Mughals of help against the Adilshahi. Jai Singh, soon compelled Shivaji undertake  a journey to visit Aurangzeb’s court at Agra in order to be formally accepted as a vassal of the Mughals. In Agra, hundreds of miles from their homeland, Shivaji and his son were placed under house arrest, where they lived under the threat of execution. However, Shivaji pretended  to be ill and, as a form of penance, began to send out enormous baskets filled with sweets to be distributed among the poor. On August 17, 1666, he and his son hid in these baskets and managed to escape. “His escape, possibly the most thrilling episode in a life filled with high drama, was to change the course of Indian history”. His followers welcomed him back as their leader, and within two years he not only had won back all the lost territory but had expanded his domain. He collected tribute from Mughal regions and plundered their rich cities, and he reorganized the army and instituted reforms for the welfare of his subjects. Before proceeding to Agra, Shivaji Maharaj entrusted Swaraj in the safe hands of his mother. Shivaji Maharaj’s imprisonment by Aurangzeb did not deter her. Mughals from South, armies of Adilshah and Kutubshah, British and Portuguese invaders in Konkan and Gomantak (Goa) and vast army of Siddi Jauhar in Murud Janjira, all had trained their greedy eyes on the Maratha ideal of Swaraj. Jija Bai, who was very old, protected her people from these enemies for more than eight months. Beyond this, she accomplished completion of Sindudurg fort, recaptured a fort from the enemies, attended to problems of the subjects and showed her efficiency in governing the people as an able ruler. It would be true to say Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s idea “Swarajya is my birthright”, was inspired by Jija Mata and Shivaji. The founding of the Maratha Swaraj involved a relentless struggle for over thirty years. Shivaji realized that now it was necessary for Swaraj to win general recognition as a sovereign, independent state. For legal recognition to the Swaraj, a formal coronation was necessary. On 6th June 1674, Shivaji Maharaj was coronated in Raigad by Gaga Bhatt, a learned pandit  from Banaras. Maharaj ascended the throne of the Swaraj. He now became the Chhatrapati of the Swaraj. As a symbol of sovereignty, Shivaji Maharaj instituted a new era commencing from the date of his coronation known as Rajyabhisheka shaka. Shivaji Maharaj thus became the founder of a new era. On the occasion of the coronation, special coins were minted -- a gold coin called hon and a copper coin called shivrai with the legend Shri Raja Shiva Chhatrapati inscribed on them. After, that all the royal correspondence carried the words, 'Kshatriyakulaawatansa Shri Raja Shiva Chhatrapati'. After the coronation Shivaji marched to conquer Phonda near Goa and captured it in 1675. Then the Marathas captured Ankola and Shiveshwar which was followed by annexation of Kolhapur. After that Shivaji got the title ‘Dakshin Digvijay’. Chhatrapati Shivaji then planned to attack and conquer the province of Adilshahi in Karnataka. He undertook Karnataka expedition in 1677, as Karnataka was famous for its riches. At the same time, it was not well defended by Adilshah. Chhatrapati Shivaji then went to Golkonda to meet the Qutubshah. He entered into a treaty of friendship with him. Then he captured Jinjee and proceeded to Vellore. The city withstood a long siege. Later, he conquered Bangalore, Hoskote, certain other forts such as those at Vellore and also some parts of the Adilshahi kingdom. Permanent annexation in the south increased his strength and most importantly he was successful in executing his plan of defense which would help him to resist the armies of Aurangzeb in future. For administration of the newly conquered province Shivaji made excellent arrangements. He appointed Raghunath Narayan Hanamante, the chief officer to look after these newly conquered territories. After accomplishing the mission of the south, Shivaji Maharaj returned to Swaraj.   Shivaji then decided to fortify the island of Khanderi, as it was a key position because it was located near Mumbai. The British then decided to lay a regular siege to the island. In this naval conflict the English had to withdraw their fleet. This brought to an end to the naval conflict between Shivaji and the British.   The greatest achievement of Shivaji was to inculcate the spirit of independence in his people. Shivaji Maharaj’s personality and message are as relevant today as they were in the past. “Shivaji breathed new life into a moribund race that for centuries had resigned itself to abject serfdom and led them against Aurangzeb, a powerful Mughal ruler. Above all, in a place and age stained by religious savagery, he was one of the few rulers who practiced true religious tolerance”.   Now I am going to talk about the comments made about Shivaji. “Ya Allah, you gave me an enemy, fearless and upright, please keep your doors to heaven open for him because the world's best and large-hearted warrior is coming to you.” -Aurangzeb (After Shivaji's death, while reading Namaz) “That day Shivaji just didn't chop of my fingers but also chopped off my pride. I fear to meet him even in my dreams”. --Shahista Khan. “Netaji, your country does not require any Hitler to throw out the British. All you need to teach is Shivaji's history”. -Adolf Hitler “Had Shivaji been born in England, we would not only have ruled earth but the whole Universe”. -Lord Mountbatten “Had Shivaji lived for another ten years, the British would not have seen the face of India”. -- A British Governor “If India needs to be made independent then there is only one way out, ‘Fight like Shivaji’”. --Netaji “Shivaji is just not a name, it is an energy source for Indian youth, which can be used to make India free”. - Swami Vivekananda. From these comments we need to realize that to make India the next Superpower Shivaji’s rule and his greatness needs to be inculcated in our History curriculum. Then only will Swaraj exist. Vande Mataram  

  • Mother of noble thoughts

    Mother of noble thoughts By Ram Suresh An ascetic who shunned the limelight and materialistic yearning that overwhelms contemporary India, Heeraba Modi was an embodiment of Vedic thoughts and deep-rooted values of Bharat. For her, faith, integrity and hard work were paramount. She not only pursued these traits vigorously but, more importantly, imparted these qualities to her progeny. Her steadfast beliefs were built on solid rock and she would not be swayed from her monk-like existence even when her son became the chief minister of Gujarat for three successive terms and won landslide victories in national elections to reach the pinnacle of power and glory. While she was proud of her son and the positions he held, she was not enamored by the pomp and glitter. True to her character, it took a good two years for her to visit her son’s mansion in New Delhi after he became the prime minister in 2014. “My mother is as simple as she is extraordinary,” Narendra Modi wrote in a blog on June 18, 2022, the day she completed 99 years. A week earlier, on the 100th birthday of her late husband Damodardas Mulchand Modi, she was full of beans singing bhajans while playing the manjeera. This was par for the course for the nonagenarian clad in a white sari and blouse, as the frail lady did most of her daily chores by herself and was mentally alert. Heeraba, who was called into the arms of the Almighty on December 30, lived in the modest house of the Prime Minister’s younger brother on a nondescript lane in Rayson village in Gandhinagar district of Gujarat, about 70 km south of Modi’s hometown of Vadnagar. She had no worldly possessions. “A glorious century rests at the feet of God,” a grief-stricken Modi tweeted. “In Maa, I have always felt that trinity, which contains the journey of an ascetic, the symbol of a selfless Karmayogi and a life committed to values. She was a beacon of light and wisdom from years of hard toil and bitter-sweet experiences. She lost her mother when she was too young to remember her face. As the eldest child in the lower middle-class family, responsibility was thrust on her tiny shoulders at a tender age. She was still in her teens when she was married to a person who was just a year older than her. Life was a constant struggle to get food on the table. She washed dishes and swept floors in the neighborhood to supplement her husband’s meagre income from his tea shop. With five sons and one daughter it was tough going for the family in their makeshift tenement they called home in the north Gujarat district of Mehsana. In Vadnagar, our family used to stay in a tiny house which did not even have a window, let alone a luxury like a toilet or a bathroom,” Modi reminisced of those early years. “Far beyond every tale of deprivation is the glorious story of a mother; far above every struggle is the strong resolve of a mother.” Doubtlessly, Heeraba’s work ethics and integrity against heavy odds played a decisive role in shaping the personality of the future prime minister. As she toiled tirelessly humming her favorite bhajans and hymns, there was never a glimpse of regret or sorrow on her face. Behind her pleasant demeanor, however, she possessed a steely resolve to do the right things – always. “In my mother’s life story, I see the penance, sacrifice and contribution of India’s matrushakti,” Modi wrote. “Despite struggling with poverty and its accompanying challenges, my parents never left the path of honesty or compromised on their self-respect. They had only one mantra to overcome any challenge – hard work, constant hard work. In many respects, Modi’s dedication to his job – he hasn’t taken a holiday break since taking over as prime minister in 2014 – his uprightness, firm belief in God and strong resolve can be traced to the deep influence of his mother. Heeraba passed away after a brief illness. Only three weeks earlier she appeared in fine fettle when Modi visited her. Perhaps the best epitaph would be her advice to Modi on her last birthday: “Work with intelligence and live life with purity.

  • The history of  Metro

    Anupama Nair Railways still occupies a significant role in the world of transportation. A train can carry large number of passengers and also large  and heavy loads to very long distances. Since its inception in the 19th Century in England, railway systems had witnessed lots of changes in term of shape, speed, mode of running, distance etc., and one among the changes, and the most important is considered to be the emergence and spread of metro rail system in the world. The word metro is derived from an abbreviation of 'Paris Metropolitan', which become common word used to call all subway network. Sometimes metro is regarded as rapid transit train system. The world's first urban underground railway was ‘Metropolitan railway’ which began its operation on January 10, 1863. It was built largely in shallow tunnels and is now part of the London underground. Then there was an idea of an underground railway terminus which was supposed to start in the 1830s, and the Metropolitan build a line in 1854. The United States had been using the subway tunnel in Boston that is still in use from 1897! Much later subway lines were built to carry heavy rail trains. The New York City has world's largest 4-track line, that almost stretches 9 miles(14.5kms) . On October 17, 1919 the Madrid Metro was inaugurated, which today is one of the longest metro system in the world.  The first city in Asia to have subway lines were Tokyo in 1927 and Osaka in 1933. After 1974, a number of cities in South Korea have developed modern and extensive subway system. Rapid transits in India consist of Metro, Monorails and light rail system. The first rapid transit system in India was the famous Calcutta Metro, that started operations in 1984. E. Sridharan, popularly known as ‘Metro Man’ was the man who deserves credit behind this great effort. The metro rail system in India is popularized and developed due to his amazing efforts and hard work. Delhi Metro was India's first modern metro which began its operation in 2002. The Rapid Metro Rail Gurgaon, that started operation in November 2013, is India's first privately owned and operated metro. The Government of Maharashtra with financial assistance from the World Bank and MMRDA under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) prepared the Comprehensive Transportation Study (CTS) for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region in 2008 known as Transportation Study for the region of Mumbai (TRANSFORM). The premier objective of the study was to identify the travel modes and travel patterns of the residents in the MMR and recommend a long-term comprehensive transportation strategy for MMR up to the year 2031. One of the major recommendations of TRANSFORM was the development of a Multi-Modal Corridor in MMR to take care of the varied travel demands of the region for the horizon period up to the year 2031. One such corridor is planned from Virar to Alibaug.   Louis Berger Group Inc. was appointed for the preparation of the Techno-Economic and Financial Viability Study which began in August 2010. This 126-kilometre long Virar-Alibaug Multi-Modal Corridor will connect NH-8, Bhiwandi bypass, NH-3, NH-4 and NH-4B, Mumbai-Pune Expressway, NH-17, etc. The Multi-Modal Corridor will be a crucial step towards development, strengthening and creating job opportunities in seven growth centres in MMR such as Virar, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, Dombivali, Panvel, Taloja and Uran. The corridor will also be useful for the development of Navi Mumbai International Airport, JNPT Port, MTHL and Dedicated Freight Corridor. This Corridor will carry all the traffic from JNPT towards Navi Mumbai and Thane outside the city and will help reduce traffic congestion within the city. The travel time between Virar to Alibaug will also be reduced by 50 per cent. However, Metro in Mumbai made its entry much later than other cities. The Metro Line-1 was inaugurated for public use on 8th June, 2014, between Andheri and Ghatkopar. It became very popular mode of transport. Mr. Uddhav Thackeray had inaugurated two new lines of Mumbai Metro on the occasion of Gudi Padwa i.e., the Marathi New Year on 2nd  April 2022, nearly eight years after the Mass Rapid Transit System first made its entry into the financial capital of the country. It is indeed a wonderful way to celebrate the new year for Mumbaikars – their travel woes are over; they will avoid never-ending traffic and save time and precious fuel. The former CM had flagged off the inaugural 6-coach BEML train on Line-7 and then travelled on from Aarey to Dindoshi Our beloved Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi  had laid the foundation stone of both projects in October 2015 with a combined cost of Rs. 12,618 crore. This milestone was recorded roughly 4.5 years after the first U-girder was launched in July 2017 by J. Kumar Infra Projects at Borivali who are the contractors for Line-2A’s civil structure and the mid-section (Poisar-New Ashok Nagar) of Line-7, while NCC built the Poisar – Dahisar section. The trial runs were earlier conducted in May 2021 with Line-7’s OHE traction system getting energized by Larsen and Toubro and Leena Powertech Engineers and Line-2A’s system by Sterling and Wilson.   The trains will operate between 6 AM to 10 PM with fares of Rs. 10 (0-3 km), Rs. 20 (3-12 km) and Rs. 30 (12-18 km), Rs. 40 (18-24 km) and Rs. 50 (24-30 km). As of now, the ticketing will be handled via a QR code-based mobile and paper tickets. Smart cards and app-based season tickets will be launched at a later time. With this thrilling development, Mumbai’s Metro Network has become 30.15 km long with 3 lines. It took a long time to “push the needle and arrive at this stage after a lost decade of poor planning and policy making (PPP vs EPC) between 2005-2015”.The Commissioner of MMRDA claimed the remaining 15.85 km Phase 2 of Line-2A (Dahanukarwadi–Andheri West) and Line-7 (Aarey–Gundavali) will be inaugurated by 15th August 2022, to connect with Line-1 (Versova – Ghatkopar). What a gift for independence Day!   The MMRDA commissioner further said the trains which will be deployed on the elevated corridors have been designed for driverless operations along with CBTC signaling systems. However, during the initial phases, the metro trains will be manned by operators or attendants, including a few female pilots. In the future, the system will be upgraded to unmanned train operation, he said, further adding though the corridors’ sanctioned speed is 80 km per hour, initially the metro trains will be operated at 70 km per hour. According to him, 150 services will be operated daily on these two lines with 11 rakes, each of six coaches. Over 2,250 commuters can travel on a metro train at a time.    The MMRDA has done multi-modal integration at the stations and the BEST undertaking buses will be operated as feeder services, Srinivas said. The MMRDA has targeted to finish phase two of the corridors by August 15, he added. Mr. Aditya Thackeray, was very proud of the achievement of MMRDA and other agencies responsible for the Metro. He said, “ The MMR is a hub of economic as well as socio-cultural activities that puts a strain on the infrastructure. However, it is gratifying to see that MMRDA is implementing its transportation plan without compromising on environmental sustainability. The design of coaches as well as stations are energy efficient and disable-friendly thus, matching with high International standards of universal accessibility. I congratulate MMRDA on planning and implementing of the metro lines in a holistic way”.   It is believed that “ the standard of living, economic efficiency as well as the well-being of citizens is directly related to the efficiency of transport system. In the last 15 years, the MMRDA, CIDCO, MCGM and other government bodies have implemented a number of transport corridors to ease traffic congestion and overcrowding in the public transport system.

  • Ayurveda and diabetes an overview

    Anupama Nair Ayurveda is one of the world's oldest holistic  i.e., ‘whole-body’ healing systems and it was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India. It’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a proper balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Its main goal is to promote good health, and just not fight disease. However, treatments may be geared toward specific health problems. It is believed that everything in the universe, dead or alive  is connected. If your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe, you have good health. When something disrupts this balance, you get sick. Among the things that can upset the balance are genetic or birth defects, injuries, climate and seasonal change, age, and your emotions. Those who practice Ayurveda believe that every person is made of five basic elements found in the universe -- sky, air, fire, water, and earth. An Ayurvedic practitioner will create a treatment plan specifically designed for you. They’ll take into account your unique physical and emotional makeup, your primary life force, and the balance between all three of these elements and  the goal of the treatment is to cleanse your body of undigested food, which can stay in your body and cause illness. The cleansing process called ‘panchakarma’ is designed to reduce your symptoms and restore harmony and balance. To achieve this, an Ayurvedic practitioner might rely on blood purification, massage, medical oils, herbs, and enemas or laxatives. What is diabetes? Diabetes is often called as the ‘silent killer’ and a person with diabetes knows the pain when he sees his friends enjoying themselves and realizes his life devoid of sweetness. In layman terms if you have diabetes, your body cannot properly process and use glucose from the food you eat. There are different types of diabetes, each with different causes, but they all share the common problem of having too much glucose in your bloodstream. Treatments include medications and/or insulins. Some types of diabetes can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to serious consequences, causing damage to a wide range of your body's organs and tissues – including your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. The process of digestion includes breaking down the food you eat into various different nutrients. When you eat carbohydrates like bread, rice, pasta or chapatis, your body breaks this down into sugar or glucose. When glucose is in your bloodstream, it needs help or ‘key’ called insulin to get into its final destination where it's used, which is inside your body's cells Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas,  an organ located behind your stomach. The pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream and insulin acts as the ‘key which unlocks the door of the cell wall that allows glucose to enter your body’s cells. Glucose is the ‘fuel’ or energy, tissues and organs need to function properly. When you suffer from diabetes, your pancreas either doesn’t make any insulin or enough insulin or your pancreas makes insulin but your body’s cells don’t respond to it and can’t use it as it normally does. If glucose can’t get into your body’s cells, it stays in your bloodstream and your blood glucose level rises. Diabetes can be reversed or at least reduced by making some lifestyle changes, modifying eating habits and becoming physically active. Diabetes is called as Madhumeha in Ayurveda, and is considered one of the 20 types of Prameha or urological disorders. Madhu means sweet and meha means urine in Sanskrit which in layman terms translates to 'urine that smells sweet'. One doesn't get diagnosed with diabetes mellitus all of a sudden. There are warning signs and symptoms that indicate trouble. If you feel excessively thirsty, fatigue, frequent urination, unintended weight loss, increased hunger, numbness or tingling in the feet or hands, you may be suffering from prediabetes. The difference between diabetes and prediabetes is that in the latter you do not need medication to manage blood glucose levels. People diagnosed with prediabetes have a high risk of developing full-blown type 2 diabetes and suffering from its many complications. However, prediabetes is also the disease that can be reversed by modifying eating habits and becoming physically active. Some simple tips can go a long way in keeping this killer disease at bay. The tips are:   Avoid white sugar, and switch to natural sugars Exercise for an hour Start consuming Nisha amlaki Have early dinner Have sound sleep   What is Nisha Amlaki, you might ask? You can make it at home -- take equal quantity of amla powder and turmeric and mix them together. You need to take 2 gm of Nisha Amalki daily in morning on empty stomach with warm water. What we need to understand is any disease can be controlled with proper care.

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  • France has major interests linked to Indian Ocean territories: Le Drian

    French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will pay a two-day visit during 17-18 November. The visit comes ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India to attend the International Solar Alliance conference. Excerpts from the interview: Your visit comes ahead of a visit by President Emmanuel Macron to India when he will attend the International Solar Alliance conference. What areas of bilateral cooperation will be the focus for your visit? I am delighted to be in India and lay the groundwork for the upcoming visit of President Emmanuel Macron. The relationship between India and France is especially strong. It dates long back to History. Since Independence, our friendship has grown ceaselessly. Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to our partnership as an “all-weather partnership”. It could not be better expressed. India is our foremost strategic partner in Asia and our only strategic partner in South Asia. We have key cooperation in very sensitive areas, such as counter-terrorism, defence, civil nuclear energy, space. In the Indian Ocean, where India occupies a central position and France has major interests linked to its overseas territories, we are in the process of forging a real defence and security partnership. Our economic relations are developing, with an increasing number of French companies investing massively in India, particularly in the promising sector of sustainable urban development and renewable energy. One of the aims of my visit is also to strengthen people-to-people ties between our two countries, and it is with great pleasure that I will inaugurate Bonjour India, which through more than 300 events spread across India, from November 2017 to February 2018, will help highlight an innovative and creative France, as well as the vitality of the Indo-French partnership. Recently, a bid by US, Britain and France to designate Pakistani terrorist Masood Azhar at the UN Security Council was blocked by China, a move India has pursued as well. How do you respond to this and will France try again for the designation? Along with the US and the UK, France had presented a resolution to list Masood Azhar as a terrorist under the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council, which rules on sanctions against terrorists. We had done so because it is clear to us that the head of a terrorist organization should be listed just as the organization itself is. It is deeply regrettable that we could not reach a consensus on such an obvious request for designation. In combating the terrorist threat, regardless of place, there should not be any split in the international community. As for India and France, they are in full solidarity in the face of terrorism and know that they can count on each other. On Climate Change, given US decision to pull out of the Paris deal, how do India and France propose to cooperate on fighting global warming? Also, is there any attempt to hold the US to account for its decision, penalize the US, etc.? The Paris Agreement remains the pillar for combatting climate change. It is irreversible and non-renegotiable. After America announced its decision, President Macron, Prime Minister Modi and the entire international community reaffirmed the relevance of the commitments made in Paris and their resolve to fulfil them. We closely cooperate with India on climate change issues. India has been a key partner for COP21: I would like to recall that it particularly helped enshrine important concepts, such as “climate justice”, in the Paris Agreement. Today we share the same priorities: consolidating the Paris Agreement, and making progress in defining the modalities of its implementation, which is the aim of COP23. We are rallying partners for building the International Solar Alliance, which now has 44 countries under its umbrella and will enable them to gain facilitated access to solar energy. We wish to continue forging ahead. It’s a more constructive approach than trying to penalise the United States.

  • The Gujarat stakes: on Assembly election 2017

    Congress needs a cohesive agenda if it wants to push back the BJP in PM Modi’s home State It is in no small part due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah that Gujarat wields a disproportionately high influence on national politics. The so-called Gujarat model of developmentwas an important part of the BJP’s campaign in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. To say that the Gujarat Assembly election of 2012 had a huge bearing on the parliamentary election that followed in less than two years will be no exaggeration. For the same reasons, Gujarat 2017 carries an additional layer of importance: whether for the Congress or the BJP, a win or a loss will cast a much longer shadow until the summer of 2019. The two-phase polls on December 9 and 14 will thus be keenly fought, with the BJP seeking a sixth straight win, and the Congress trying for a breakthrough against all odds. The timing of the announcement of the election schedule itself became a controversy, as Chief Election Commissioner A.K. Joti faced criticism for delaying it till after Mr. Modi had made two more visits to Gujarat to inaugurate projects and announce new schemes. The argument that flood relief work in the State would have been affected if the schedule had been announced along with that of the election in Himachal Pradesh, which is ruled by the Congress, was not very convincing. One, relief work had been mostly completed, and two, the Model Code of Conduct would not have stood in the way of such works.


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