Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ACK-060, 061 & 062: Pinocchio, Valmiki; Shringabhuja

This past year has been an exciting one for me and for ACKnowledge blog. Many changes.........

I want to take a moment and say THANK YOU to all of you who have contributed & visited over the past 1 year.

Special thanks to those friends who come forward with scans to survive ACKnowledge blog. Only due to such selfless friends, it is running regularly & celebrating first anniversary today.

An out of print ACK #9 (Hindi)
An Italian author, Carlo Lorenzini (November 24, 1826 – October 26, 1890) pen name Carlo Collodi, wrote the famous children’s story Storia di un burattino ("The story of a marionette"), also called Le Avventure di Pinocchio ( The Adventures of Pinocchio) toward the end of his life. It is an archetypal fairy tale of the inward conflict associated with the process of change, growth, and development. It is also noteworthy that Pinocchio contains the prescription to remedy these human dilemmas.
The entire story of Pinocchio symbolises a transition, via voluntary effort, from a purely material life to one incorporating the intangible, but more rewarding, spiritual dimension. The wooden boy, lacking a moral outlook, (crafted out of wood: a substance incorporating low-level life) is naturally prone to misjudgments which then require additional opportunities to prove himself. He returns again and again to his material condition, each time with a new set of surroundings and characters and opportunities.
Like many classic stories, fables, and myths that have weathered the passage of time, it carries the symbolic blueprint for social and emotional conflict and the potential for resolution: Pinocchio has many unhappy adventures as he progresses from his wooden and dependent state to true independence as a real boy. He finally attains fulfillment and happiness when he completes his symbolic quest for the psychological foundations of courage.

Read The Adventures of Pinocchio online.

ACK #46 (579)

The Great Sage & Author of The Ramayana

Maharshi Valmiki, the author of the great Indian epic Ramayana, was a Hindu sage who lived around the beginning of the first millennium B.C. He is referred to as the 'adikavi', the original creator of the Hindu 'sloka' - a verse form in which most of the great epics such as Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas, and other works are composed.

How Valmiki Got His Name

He was a Brahman*** by birth belonging to the lineage of Bhrigu. Fate consigned him to a family of robbers which brought him up. Accidental contact with the Saptarsis - the Seven Sages and with the sage Narada changed his life. By the repetition of Ramanama or the name of Ram, he attained the supreme state of a 'maharshi' or great sage. Since a 'valmika' or an anthill had grown over his body during his long period of austerities and poised state of penance, he came to be known as Valmiki.

The Epic Vision

When the mythical sage Narada came to his hermitage, Valmiki who received him with due honor, posed a question - who was an ideal man? The reply came from Narada in the form of Samkshepa Ramayana which formed the foundation on which the magnificent 24,000 verse edifice was built by Valmiki. Then, immersed deep into this story, Valmiki left for the river Tamasa with his disciple Bharadwaj. The pleasant and placid river reminded the seer of the mature and modest quality of his hero. He visualized a pure and pious man's mind reflected in the deep waters. In the next instant he witnessed a heartless hunter mercilessly killing a male bird that was in love with its mate. The piteous wailing of the distressed female moved the heart of the sage so much that he spontaneously uttered a curse on the hunter. However, this curse came out of his mouth in the form of a 'sloka', a perfectly metrical composition, which surprised the sage himself: "No - You shall not command any respect in society for a long time as you have shot dead an innocent bird engrossed in love". The sage had turned into a poet.

Lord Brahma's Command

His powerful emotions found equally powerful medium for their manifestation. It was a spontaneous outburst of his inner voice motivated by divine will. When he returned to his hermitage, Brahma (the fourfaced God, the creator), appeared to him and commanded him to compose an epic poem on the story of Ram as he had heard it from the great sage Narada, in his newly discovered metre. He also gave him the boon of the visions of all the incidents and the revelation of all the secrets connected with the story. Accordingly, Valmiki composed the epic, named it The Ramayana - the way or the conduct or the lifestory of Ram - the story of Ram's march in search of truth and righteousness.
A contemporary of the heroes of the Ramayana, Maharshi Valmiki gives very little information about himself since he was a sage who had completely dedicated his life to contemplation on God and service to humanity. History has no account of his life except that he figures briefly and modestly on two occasions in the course of the epic he wrote:

Valmiki's Cameo in Ramayana

He is one of the first sages whose hermitage Ram visits along with his wife and brother on his way to Chitrakoot after leaving Ayuodhya. Valmiki welcomes them with love, affection and reverence and utters just one word 'asyatam' (be seated). He feels honored when Ram accepts his request and sits a while.
The other occasion is when Ram banishes Sita, it is Valmiki that shelters her and rears up her twin sons Luv and Kush. When they recite the epic poem in his royal court, Ram invites Valmiki and requests him to bring Sita along so she can prove her chastity before the elders and sages. Valmiki is offended yet keeps his composure and says Sita would comply with Ram's wishes for he is her husband. While presenting Sita in the Mandapa (prayer hall) Valmiki utters words that highlight the penance and perseverance which Valmiki practiced his entire life.

In His Own Words

"I am the tenth son of the sage Prachetas. You belong to the great dynasty of Raghu. I do not remember to have uttered any lie so far in my life. I say that these two boys are your sons. I performed penance for thousands of years. I shall not accept the fruit of all my penance if there is any blemish in Maithili (Sita). I never entertained any ignoble thought, I never wronged any person, and I never spoke any vulgar word - I shall derive the benefit thereof only if Maithili is void of sin."

A True Sage

Valmiki was truly a Maharshi. I Panduranga Rao describes Valmiki in these words: "He was purity, penance, benevolence and meditation personified and the sole object of his dedication and contemplation was Man, a man leaves his selfish existence and lives for others identifying himself with the composite culture of the cosmic creation." The only work available of the great sage-poet, The Ramayana, has established the poet's timeless fame.


  • Makers of Indian Literature: Valmiki by I Panduranga Rao (Sahitya Akademi) 1994
  • Studes on Valmiki's Ramayana by GS Altekar (Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute) 1987
  • Maharshi Valmiki by Chalasani Subbaro (Machilipatnam) 1988
(~Author Subhamoy Das of this article published at

*** According to Dr. Nandini Sahu, Valmiki was from Kirata Bhil (a tribal) community. Many other sources also say that he was from tribal community. As there is very little information available about him, point of view differs. But he was first poet of Sanskit mostly specialists agree.

An out of print ACK #378

Read about author & Kathasritsagara in earlier post.


ACK #9 - Ajay Misra
ACK # 46 - Anon ( our old ACK conrtibutor friend who requested to not reveal his identity)
ACK #378 - Apoorva Chandar

All thanks & credits go these three friends.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

ACK-057,058 & 059: Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das; The March to Freedom (2: A Nation Awakes & 3: The Saga of Indian Revolutionaries)

Happy Republic Day

28 States & 7 Union Territories,
18 major languages,
More than 6 religions,
More than 6 ethnic groups,
29 major festivals &
1 country!

Be proud to be an Indian!
Happy Republic Day!

On the eve of 60th Republic day (26 January) of India, like to recall some informations & facts about India:

Few countries in the world have such an ancient and diverse culture as India's, stretching back in an unbroken sweep over 5000 years.

India is the largest democracy, the second-most populous country, and the seventh-largest country by geographical area in the world.

Capital: New Delhi

Population : Over 1 billion (2001 Census)

Area : 32,87,263 square kilometers

Geographical Location : Lies between latitudes 8 ° 4' and 37 ° 6 ' north and longitudes 68 ° 7 ' and 97 ° 25' east

Coastal Length : 7,600 kilometers

Languages : 18 major languages, 1,652 dialects

Religions : India is a secular country and has no state religion. Religions represented in India include Hinduism (80.456%), Islam (13.434%), Christianity (2.341%), Sikhism ( 1.868%), Buddhism ( 0.773%), Jainism (0.411%) and religion not stated (0.07%).

National Anthem : Jan gana mana written by Rabindranath Tagore

Natioanl Emblem : Replica of the Lion Capital of Sarnath

National Flag : Horizontal tricolor in equal proportion of deep saffron on the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom. In the center of the white band is a wheel in navy blue color.

National Animal : Tiger, Panthera tigris

National Bird : Peacock

National Flower : Lotus

National Tree : Banyan

National Fruit : Mango

National Currency : Rupees (One Rupees=100 paise)

Political Structure : Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic

Indian Union : 28 States and seven centrally administered Union Territories

Legislature : Parliament, consists of President and the two Houses, known as Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and Lok Sabha (House of the People )

Executive : Consists of President, Vice-President and Council of Ministers led by the Prime Minister

Judiciary : Independent of executive


Physical Features
Lying entirely in the northern hemisphere, the mainland extends between latitudes 8°4' and 37°6' north, longitudes 68°7' and 97°25' east, and measures about 3,214 km from north to south between the extreme latitudes and about 2,933 km from east to west between the extreme longitudes. It has a land frontier of about 15,200 km. The total length of the coastline of the mainland, Lakshadweep Islands, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is 7,516.6 km. Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea are parts of India. It is bounded on the south west by the Arabian Sea and on the south east by the Bay of Bengal. On the north, north east and north west lie the Himalayan ranges. Kanyakumari constitutes the southern tip of the Indian peninsula where it gets narrower and narrower, loses itself into the Indian Ocean.

Coastline: Claims and Boundaries
Coastline: 7,516.6 km
Maritime claims (Contiguous zone): 24 NM
Territorial sea: 12 NM
Continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
Exclusive economic zone: 200 NM

India shares its political borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan on the west and Bangladesh and Burma on the east. The northern boundary is made up of the Sinkiang province of China, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. India is seperated from Sri Lanka by a narrow channel of sea formed by the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar.

Total Land boundaries 14,103 km.

Border Shared With Countries
  1. Bangladesh 4,053 km
  2. Bhutan 605 km
  3. Burma 1,463 km
  4. China 3,380 km
  5. Nepal 1,690 km
  6. Pakistan 2,912 km

Physiographic regions
The mainland comprises seven regions. (1) Northern Mountains including the Himalayas and the North Eastern mountain ranges, (2) The Indo Gangetic plain, (3) The Desert, (4) Central highlands and Peninsular plateau, (5) East Coast, (6) West Coast, (7) Bordering seas and islands.

Mountain ranges
They are seven.
The Himalayas, the Patkai and other ranges bordering India in the north and north east, the Vindhyas, which separate the Indo Gangetic plain from the Deccan Plateau, the Satpura, the Aravalli, the Sahyadri, which covers the eastern fringe of the West Coast plains and the Eastern Ghats, irregularly scattered on the East Coast and forming the boundary of the East Coast plains.

Seas/Oceans: Arabian Sea (West), Bay of Bengal (East), Indian Ocean (South)

Islands: Lakshadweep Islands in Arabian Sea, Andaman and Nicobar Islands in Bay of Bengal


Upland Plain (Deccan Plateau) in South,
Flat to Rolling Plain along the Ganges,
Deserts in West,
Himalayas in North.

Elevation extremes

Lowest point Indian Ocean: 0 m
Highest point Kanchenjunga:
8,598 m

Natural resources
Coal (fourth-largest reserves in the world), Iron Ore, Manganese, Mica, Bauxite, Titanium Ore, Chromite, Natural Gas, Diamonds, Petroleum, Limestone, Arable Land

Textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery.

principal crops- rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugar cane, potatoes;
livestock–cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, poultry;
fish catch of about 3 million metric tons ranks India among the world's top 10 fishing nations.

Climate: Varies from tropical monsoon in south to temperate in north Terrain Upland Plain (Deccan Plateau) in South, Flat to Rolling Plain along the Ganges, Deserts in West, Himalayas in North.

Mainly tropical in Southern India but temperatures in the north range from sub-zero degrees to 50 degrees Celsius.

There are well defined seasons in the northern region :

Winter (Dec – Feb),

Spring (Mar – Apr),

Summer (May – Jun),

Monsoons (Jul – Sep) and

Autumn (Oct – Nov).

Time zone: GMT +5,5 hours.


With a billion people, with a population nearly four times that of the United States, India modeled its government on the British parliamentary system, with a healthy dose of influences from the United States and the rest of Europe.

The Constitution of India is the longest written constitution of any sovereign nation in the world, containing 395 articles, 12 schedules and 94 amendments, for a total of 117,369 words in the English language version.

It was the Lahore Session of the Indian National Congress at midnight of December 31, 1929 - January 1, 1930, that the Tri-Colour Flag was unfurled by the nationalists and a pledge taken that every year on January 26, the "Republic Day" would be celebrated and that the people would unceasingly strive for the establishment of a Sovereign Democratic Republic of India. The professed pledge was successfully redeemed on 26 January, 1950, when the Constitution of India framed by the Constituent Assembly of India came into force, although the Independence from the British rule was achieved on August 15, 1947.

The National Flag of India is in tricolour ( TIRANGA) of deep saffron (Kesari) at the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom in equal propotions.

The Indian flag is a horizontal tricolour in equal proportion of deep saffron on the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom. The ratio of the width to the length of the flag is two is to three. In the centre of the white band, there is a wheel in navy blue to indicate the Dharma Chakra, the wheel of law (a Buddhist symbol dating back to 200th century BC) in the Sarnath Lion Capital.

Its diameter approximates the width of the white band and it has 24 spokes, which intends to show that there is life in movement and death in stagnation. The saffron stands for courage, sacrifice and the spirit of renunciation; the white, for purity and truth; the green for faith and fertility.

The twenty four spokes in this chakra (wheel) represent twenty four virtues:

  • Love
  • Courage
  • Patience
  • Peacefulness
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-control
  • Selflessness
  • Self sacrifice
  • Truthfulness
  • Righteousness
  • Justice
  • Mercy
  • Graciousness
  • Humility
  • Empathy
  • Sympathy
  • Godly knowledge
  • Godly wisdom
  • Godly moral
  • Reverential fear of God
  • Hope/trust/faith in the goodness of God.

The design of the National Flag of India was adopted by India's constituent assembly on 22nd july, 1947. It's use and display are regulated by a code.

The late Prime Minister Pandit Nehru called it a flag not only of freedom for Indians, but a symbol of freedom for all people.

The National Symbol of India comes from the Sarnath Lion Capital of Emperor Ashoka. Ashoka ruled the land from 272 BCE to 232 BCE. The original sculpture shows four lions on a pillar with an elephant, horse, bull, and lion separated by a lotus on the base. A Dharma Chakra (wheel of law) is also carved into the stone.

The emblem was adopted on January 26, 1950 by the Indian Government. The official symbol now shows three of the four lions with the Dharma Chakra ( the Wheel of Dharma) in the center of the base and a bull and horse on either side. The base is also engraved with the phrase "Satyameva Jayate" in the Devanagari script of India. This simple phrase represents a powerful idea for the Indian people: "Truth alone triumphs".

The origin of the motto is a well-known mantra 3.1.6 from the Mundaka Upanishad. Full mantra as follows.

satyameva jayate naanritam
satyena pantha vitato devayanah
yenaa kramantyarishayo hyaaptakaamaa
yatra tat satyasya paramam nidhaanam

Truth alone triumphs; not falsehood.
Through truth the divine path is spread out by which
the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled,
reach where that supreme treasure of Truth resides

Indian national anthem :"Jana gana mana adhinayak jayahe" was first sung by Rabindra Nath Tagor in 1911. The song is adopted as national song in 24 January 1950.There are total five stanza in this anthem and total duration is 52 seconds.

The National Bird is the Indian peacock (Pavo cristatus). Peacocks symbolize grace, pride, and beauty. They are a sign of joy for all who see them. Peacocks are often used in Indian mythology and folk stories. This bird is about the size of a swan, with a long neck and a fan-shaped array of feathers. Male peacocks are brightly colored, with blue fronts and green-bronze feathers. The female (peahen) is smaller and brown in color. The

peacock may be found throughout India, especially south and east of the Indus River. It is heavily protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. It also enjoys great sentimental protection from the nation at large.

The National Animal is the tiger, officially known as Panthera tigris. It is respected in India for its strength and grace, as well as its incredible power. The Indian tiger is also called the Royal Bengal Tiger.

Indians are conscious of the threat that hunters and others pose to this special animal. Although once popularly killed for its skin, there is now a movement to protect the tiger population. To this end, the government began "Project Tiger" in 1973. The project is also supported by the World Wildlife Federation. This project has created a network of tiger reserves throughout the country and implemented a plan to help tigers and humans coexist. India is working hard to preserve its national animal, but sadly, only 2,000 to 2,500 tigers remain.

The lotus (Nelumbo Nucifera) is the official flower of India. It represents long life, honor, and good fortune. It is also a symbol of triumph, since the lotus is rooted in the mud and can survive to regerminate for thousands of years. Even though it grows in mud, it remains pure and produces beautiful flowers. Thus, it symbolizes purity of heart and mind.

The lotus holds additional significance for Hindus, as it is a symbol of God and used often in religious practices.

The National Tree of India is the banyan. This huge tree towers over its neighbors and has the widest reaching roots of all known trees, easily covering several acres. It sends off new shoots from its roots, so that one tree is really a tangle of branches, roots, and trunks. The banyan tree regenerates and lives for an incredible length of time - thus it is thought of as the immortal tree.

Its size and leafy shelter are valued in India as a place of rest and reflection, not to mention protection from the hot sun! It is still the focal point and gathering place for local councils and meetings. India has a long history of honoring this tree; it figures prominently in many of the oldest stories of the nation.

The mango is the national fruit. It has been cultivated in India since time immemorial. There are over 100 varieties of mangos in India, in a range of colors, sizes, and shapes. Common in the tropical part of the world, mangos are savored for their sweet juice and bright colors.

People in India eat mangos ripe, or prepare them green as pickles or chutneys. They are rich in vitamin A, C, and D.

The Polity: India, a Union of States, is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic. The Constitution of India, which came into force on January 26, 1950, provides for a parliamentary system of Government and a federal structure. India comprises 28 States and 7 Union Territories. There is a bicameral parliament and three independent branches of Government: the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The President of India is the Constitutional Head of Executive of the Union. The Constitution provides for a Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President who shall in exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice. The real executive power thus vests in the Council of Ministers which is collectively responsible to the lower house of Parliament (Lok Sabha). Similarly, in states, Governor is the head of the executive, but it is the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister in whom the real executive power vests. The Council of Ministers of a State is collectively responsible to the State Legislative Assembly.


Presidents of India

Took office - Left office
Vice PresidentNote
1 Dr. Rajendra Prasad 26 January 1950 - 13 May 1962 Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Bharat Ratna (1962) Dr. Rajendra Prasad was the first President of independent India. A lawyer turned journalist, He was also an independence activist of the Indian Independence Movement. He served as President of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the constitution India. He was unanimously elected president in 1950 and, after the first general election (1952), was chosen by an overwhelming majority of the new electoral college; in 1957 he was elected to a third term. Prasad was the only president who took oath 26 January & elected for three terms in office.
2 Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan 13 May 1962 -13 May 1967 Dr. Zakir Hussain Bharat Ratna (1954) Dr. Radhakrishnan was a prominent philosopher, writer, a Knight of the Realm and also held the position of vice chancellor of the Andhra University and Banaras Hindu University. He was also made a Knight of the Golden Army of Angels by Pope Paul VI.
3 Dr. Zakir Hussain 13 May 1967 - 3 May 1969 Varahagiri Venkata Giri Bharat Ratna (1963) Dr. Zakir Hussain was vice chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University and a recipient of Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratna. He died before his term of office was ended.

Varahagiri Venkata Giri * 3 May 1969 - 20 July 1969
Giri was appointed as acting president following the death of Hussain. He resigned in a few months to take part in the presidential elections.

Muhammad Hidayatullah * 20 July 1969 - 24 August 1969
Hidayatullah served as the Chief Justice of India, and was a recipient of the Order of the British Empire. He served as acting president until the election of Giri as the President of India. He was also the Vice-President of India for one complete term.
4 Varahagiri Venkata Giri 24 August 1969 - 24 August 1974 Gopal Swarup Pathak Bharat Ratna (1975) Varahagiri Venkata Giri is the only person to have served as both an acting president and president of India. He was a recipient of the Bharat Ratna, and has functioned as Indian Minister of Labour and High Commissioner to Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
5 Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed 24 August 1974 - 11 February 1977 Basappa Danappa Jatti Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed served as a Minister before being elected as president. He died in 1977 before his term of office ended, and was the second Indian president to have died during a term of office.

Basappa Danappa Jatti * 11 February 1977 - 25 July 1977
Jatti was the vice president of India during Ahmed's term of office, and was sworn in as acting president upon Ahmed's death. He earlier functioned as the Chief Minister for the State of Mysore.
6 Neelam Sanjiva Reddy 25 July 1977 - 25 July 1982 Muhammad Hidayatullah Reddy was the only Member of Parliament from the Janata Party to get elected from Andhra President of India. He was unanimously elected Speaker of the Lok Sabha on 26 March 1977 and relinquished this office on 13 July 1977 to become the 6
7 Giani Zail Singh 25 July 1982 - 25 July 1987 Ramaswamy Venkataraman In March 1972, Singh assumed the position of chief Minister of Punjab, and in 1980, he became Union Home Minister.
8 Ramaswamy Venkataraman 25 July 1987 - 25 July 1992 Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma In 1942, Venkataraman was jailed by the British for his involvement in the India's independence movement. After his release, he was elected to independent India’s Provisional Parliament as a member of the Congress Party in 1950 and eventually joined the central government, where he first served as Minister of Finance and Industry and later as Minister of Defence.
9 Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma 25 July 1992 - 25 July 1997 Kocheril Raman Narayanan Dr. Sharma was Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, and the Indian Minister for Communications. He has also served as the governor of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra.
10 Kocheril Raman Narayanan 25 July 1997 - 25 July 2002 Krishan Kant Narayanan served as India's ambassador to Thailand, Turkey, China and United States of America. He received doctorates in Science and Law and was also a chancellor in several universities. He was also the vice-chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University.
11 Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam 25 July 2002 - 25 July 2007 Bhairon Singh Shekhawat Bharat Ratna (1997) Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is a scientist who played a leading role in the development of India's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.
12 Pratibha Patil 25 July 2007 ~ till today
Mohammad Hamid Ansari Patil is the first woman to become the President of India. She was also the first female Governor of Rajasthan.
  • The symbol (*) with a light brown background indicates an acting president (therefore not numbered.).
(~ Based on information from Wikipedia & Government of India sources.)


Top present functionaries of Government of India are:

President: Mrs. Pratibha Patil
Vice-President: Mr. Mohammad Hamid Ansari
Prime Minister: Dr. Manmohan Singh
Speaker (Lower House): Mr. Somnath Chatterjee
Chief Justice of India: Mr. Justice K.G. Balakrishnan


Civilian Awards in India

1. Bharat Ratna
Bharat Ratna (translates to Jewel of India or Gem of India in English) is India’s highest civilian award, awarded for the highest degrees of national service. This service includes artistic, literary, and scientific achievements, as well as “recognition of public service of the highest order.” The award was established by the first President of India, Rajendra Prasad, on January 2, 1954. The honour has been awarded to forty persons, a list which includes two non-Indians and a naturalized Indian citizen. Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh are the states with the most number of awardees (8 each). The actual award is designed in the shape of a peepul leaf and carries the Hindi-written words “Bharat Ratna” on the front. The reverse side of the medal carries the state emblem and motto. The original statutes of January 1954 did not make allowance for posthumous awards (and this perhaps explains why the decoration was never awarded to Mahatma Gandhi), though this provision was added in the January 1955 statute. Subsequently, there have been ten posthumous awards, including the award to Subhash Chandra Bose in 1992, which was later withdrawn due to a legal technicality, the only case of an award being withdrawn. While there was no formal provision that recipients of the Bharat Ratna should be Indian citizens, this seems to have been the general assumption. There has been one award to a naturalized Indian citizen — Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa (1980); and two to non-Indians — Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1987) and Nelson Mandela (1990). No one has been conferred with Bharat Ratna since 2001.

2.Padma Vibhushan
The Padma Vibhushan is India’s second highest civilian honour. It consists of a medal and a citation and is awarded by the President of India. It was established on January 2, 1954. It is awarded to recognize exceptional and distinguished service to the nation in any field, including government service. As of Feb 2008, 235 people have received the award.
3.Padma Bhushan
This is awarded to recognize distinguished service of a high order to the nation, in any field. It stands third in the hierarchy of civilian awards. As of 2008 Feb, 1003 people have received the award.

4. Padma Shri
This award is given by the Government of India generally to Indian citizens to recognize their distinguished contribution in various spheres of activity including the Arts, Education, Industry, Literature, Science, Sports, Social Service and public life. (Padma = Lotus, in Sanskrit). As of 2008 Feb, 2095 people have received the award.


Indian Armed Forces

India maintains the world's third largest armed forces (after China & USA). The President of India serves as the de jure commander-in-chief of the armed forces while the de facto executive power is held by the Union Government headed by the Prime Minister of India.


  • Indian Army (second largest army in terms of military personnel after China)
  • Indian Air Force (fourth largest air force in the world)
  • Indian Navy (world's fifth largest navy)
  • Indian Coast Guard
  • Paramilitary Forces of India (PMF)
  • Strategic Nuclear Command
  • Integrated Space Cell

Gallantry awards

The highest wartime gallantry award given by the Military of India is the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), followed by the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) and the Vir Chakra (VrC). Its peacetime equivalent is the Ashoka Chakra.

The highest decoration for meritorious service is the Param Vishisht Seva Medal.


States & Union Territories (administered directly by the central Government) of India:

  • Andaman & Nicobar (UT)
  • Haryana
  • Mizoram
  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Himachal Pradesh
  • Nagaland
  • Arunachal Pradesh
  • Jammu and Kashmir
  • Orissa
  • Assam
  • Jharkhand
  • Puducherry (UT)
  • Bihar
  • Karnataka
  • Punjab
  • Chandigarh (UT)
  • Kerala
  • Rajasthan
  • Chhattisgarh
  • Lakshadweep (UT)
  • Sikkim
  • Dadra and Nagar Haveli (UT)
  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Daman and Diu (UT)
  • Maharashtra
  • Tripura
  • Delhi (UT)
  • Manipur
  • Uttar Pradesh
  • Goa
  • Meghalaya
  • Uttarakhand
  • Gujarat

  • West Bengal

  • (~ from
    GOI Directory)

    Some more facts about
    States & Union Territories of India:
    • Rajasthan is the biggest state.
    • Uttar Pradesh is the highest populated state.
    • West Bengal is the most dense state.
    • The highest per capita income in Maharashtra.
    • The fastest growth per capita income in Gujarat
    • Chandigarh is both the capital of Haryana and Punjab, and a separate Union Territory of itself.

    There are many diverse ethnic groups among the people of India. The 6 main ethnic groups are as follows.

    1. Negrito

    2. Proto - Australoids or Austrics

    3. Mongoloids

    4. Mediterranean or Dravidian

    5. Western Brachycephals

    6. Nordic Aryans

    Also read more about Ethnic groups in South Asia: Wikipedia



    The population in India as at 0:00 hours on 1st March 2001 stood at 102,70 ,15, 247 persons. With this, India became only the second country in the world after China to cross the one billion mark. ( India is the 2nd most populated country in the world). Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area, it supports over 15% of the world's population.

    Population growth rate: 1.95 per cent (1991 – 2001)

    Population density: 324 persons per square kilometre

    India's estimated population in July 2007: 1,129,866,154 .

    India's population rose by 21.34 % between 1991 - 2001. The sex ratio (i.e., number of females per thousand males) of population was 933, rising from 927 as at the 1991 Census. Total literacy rate in India was returned as 65.38%.

    Life expectancy: 60.4 years (male: 61.8 years, female: 59 years)

    Literacy rate: 65.38 %

    (Kerala has the highest literacy rate of 90.92 %. As per 2001 census all state and Union Territories have achieved a male literacy rate of 60 % and most of the states have attained a female literacy rate of over 50 %).

    (Source: Provisional Population Totals : India . Census of India 2001, Paper 1 of 2001)


    Languages spoken: The official language of the Republic of India is Hindi, and its subsidiary official language is English. The individual states can legislate their own official languages, depending on their linguistic demographics.

    India is a multilingual society with 18 principal languages recognised by the constitution. Hindi is the language of a large percentage of people (40 percent), while English is the preferred business language.

    Languages recognised by the Indian constitution:

    1. Assamese.
    2. Bengali.
    3. Gujarati.
    4. Hindi.
    5. Kannada.
    6. Kashmiri.
    7. Konkani.
    8. Malayalam.
    9. Manipuri.
    10. Marathi.
    11. Nepali.
    12. Oriya.
    13. Punjabi.
    14. Sanskrit.
    15. Sindhi.
    16. Tamil.
    17. Telugu.
    18. Urdu.

    Classic Dances of India

    Kathak Dance

    Bharata Natyam Dance

    Kathakali Dance

    Kuchipudi Dance

    Odissi Dance

    Chau Dance

    Folk Dances of India

    Dances of Rajasthan
    - Kalbelia Dance
    - Chari Dance
    - Ghoomar Dance
    - Fire Dance
    - Kachhi Gori

    Dances of Gujarat
    - Garba Dance
    - Dandiya Dance

    Dances of Punjab
    - Bhangra
    - Gidda

    Dances of Manipur
    - Manipuri Dance

    Dances of Maharashtara
    - Tamasha/Lavani Dance
    - Dindi Dance

    Dances of Assam
    - Bihu Dance


    International airports: Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram, Ahmedabad, Goa, Amritsar, Guwahati.

    Major ports of entry: Kandla, Mumbai, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Kochi, Tuticorin, Chennai, Vishakhapatnam, Paradip, Kolkata, and Haldia.



    India is today the second fastest growing economy of the world. The country ranked fourth in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) in 2005. The business and regulatory environment is evolving and moving towards constant improvement. A highly talented, skilled and English-speaking human resource base forms its backbone. Far-reaching measures introduced by the government over the past few years to liberalise the Indian market and integrate it with the global economy are widely acknowledged. The tenth five year plan document targets a healthy growth rate of above 8% for the Indian economy during the plan period 2002 – 07. According to some experts, the share of the US in world GDP is expected to fall (from 21 per cent to 18 per cent) and that of India to rise (from 6 per cent to 11 per cent in 2025), and hence the latter will emerge as the third pole in the global economy after the US and China. By 2025, the Indian economy is projected to be about 60 per cent the size of the US economy. The transformation into a tripolar economy will be complete by 2035, and India is likely to be a larger growth driver than the six largest countries in the EU to become the third largest economy with a share of 14.3 per cent of global economy by 2015 and graduate to become the “third pole” and growth driver by 2035.

    A growth rate of above 9 % was achieved by the Indian economy during the year 2006-07 and 8.6 % in 2007-08. Many factors are behind this robust performance of the Indian economy since in 2001. High growth rates in Industry & Services sector and a benign world economic environment provided a backdrop conducive to the Indian economy. Another positive feature was that the growth was accompanied by continued maintenance of relative stability of prices.

    GDP at current prices: US$ 1005 billion (2007-08)
    Composition of GDP: Services 56%, Agriculture 22% and Industry 22%
    Estimate of GDP growth: 8.8 percent (2007-08)
    Cumulative FDI inflow: US$ 38.9 million (upto March 2006)
    Foreign exchange reserves: US$ 262.4 billion (October 2007)
    Exchange rate: Rs 39.32 per US$ (November 2007)
    Foodgrain production: 211.8 million tonnes (2006-2007)
    Buffer foodgrain stock: 17.73 million tones (March 2007)

    Principal exports: Traditional exports include cotton yarn and textiles, readymade garments, leather goods, gems and jewellery and agricultural and processed food products. However, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, automotive components, transport equipment, software, electronic goods and manufactured metals constitute the rapidly growing export segments.

    Principal markets for exports: USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Japan, Russia, Belgium, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

    Imports: US$ 140 billion (2007-08)

    Principal imports: Capital goods, crude oil, lubricants and other petroleum products, precious and semi-precious stones, chemicals, edible oils and fertilizers.

    Principal markets of imports: USA, UK, Japan, Germany, Nigeria, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.



    Many ACKs were published which reflects about British period of India. Some of these are already posted, many are coming soon. To understand why these people or movements were so important for Indians, read following article by Vinay Lal (ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UCLA Department of History, Los Angeles). Do you find any similarity with contemporary period? Is it history of only old India? Is it history of only India?

    Think about it.



    The British presence in India dates back to the early part of the seventeenth century. On 31 December 1600, Elizabeth, then the monarch of the United Kingdom, acceded to the demand of a large body of merchants that a royal charter be given to a new trading company, "The Governor and Company of Merchants of London, Trading into the East-Indies." Between 1601-13, merchants of the East India Company took twelve voyages to India, and in 1609 William Hawkins arrived at the court of Jahangir to seek permission to establish a British presence in India. Hawkins was rebuffed by Jahangir, but Sir Thomas Roe, who presented himself before the Mughal Emperor in 1617, was rather more successful. Two years later, Roe gained Jahangir's permission to build a British factory in Surat, and in 1639, this was followed by the founding of Fort St. George (Madras). Despite some setbacks, such as the Company's utter humiliation at the hands of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, with whom the Company went to war between 1688-91, the Company never really looked back.

    In 1757, on account of the British victory at Plassey, where a military force led by Robert Clive defeated the forces of the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-daulah, the East India Company found itself transformed from an association of traders to rulers exercising political sovereignty over a largely unknown land and people. Less than ten years later, in 1765, the Company acquired the Diwani of Bengal, or the right to collect revenues on behalf of the Mughal Emperor, in Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. The consolidation of British rule after the initial military victories fell to Warren Hastings, who did much to dispense with the fiction that the Mughal Emperor was still the sovereign to whom the Company was responsible. Hastings also set about to make the British more acquainted with Indian history, culture, and social customs; but upon his return to England, he would be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. His numerous successors, though fired by the ambition to expand British territories in India, were also faced with the task of governance. British rule was justified, in part, by the claims that the Indians required to be civilized, and that British rule would introduce in place of Oriental despotism and anarchy a reliable system of justice, the rule of law, and the notion of 'fair play'. Certain Indian social or religious practices that the British found to be abhorrent were outlawed, such as sati in 1829, and an ethic of 'improvement' was said to dictate British social policies. In the 1840s and 1850s, under the governal-generalship of Dalhousie and then Canning, more territories were absorbed into British India, either on the grounds that the native rulers were corrupt, inept, and notoriously indifferent about the welfare of their subjects, or that since the native ruler had failed to produce a biological male heir to the throne, the territory was bound to "lapse" into British India upon the death of the ruler. Such was the fate of Sambalpur (1849), Baghat (1850), Jhansi (1853), Nagpur (1854), and - most tragically - Awadh (1856). The Nawab of Awadh [also spelled as Oudh], Wajid Ali Shah, was especially reviled by the British as the worst specimen of the Oriental Despot, more interested in nautch girls, frivolous amusements - kite-flying, cock-fighting, and the like - and sheer indolence than in the difficult task of governance. The British annexation of Awadh, and the character of the Nawab, were made the subjects of an extraordinary film by Satyajit Ray, entitled The Chess Players ("Shatranj ke Khilari").

    Shortly after the annexation of Awadh, the Sepoy Mutiny, more appropriately described as the Indian Rebellion of 1857-58, broke out. This was by far the greatest threat posed to the British since the beginnings of their acquisition of an empire in India in 1757, and within the space of a few weeks in May large swathes of territory in the Gangetic plains had fallen to the rebels. Atrocities were committed on both sides, and conventionally the rebellion is viewed as marking the moment when the British would always understand themselves as besieged by hostile natives, just as the Indians understood that they could not forever be held in submission. If in the early days of the Company's rule a legend was constructed around the Black Hole of Calcutta, so signifying the villainy of Indians, the Rebellion of 1857-58 gave rise to an elaborate mythography on both sides. Delhi was recaptured by British troops in late 1857, the Emperor Bahadur Shah, last of the Mughals, was put on trial for sedition and predictably convicted, and by mid-1858 the Rebellion had been entirely crushed. The East India Company was abolished, though John Stuart Mill, the Commissioner of Correspondence at India House, London, and the unacknowledged formulator of British policy with respect to the native states, furnished an elaborate but ultimately unsuccessful plea on behalf of the Company. India became a Crown colony, to be governed directly by Parliament, and henceforth responsibility for Indian affairs would fall upon a member of the British cabinet, the Secretary of State for India, while in India itself the man at the helm of affairs would continue to be the Governor-General, known otherwise in his capacity as the representative of the monarch as the Viceroy of India.

    The proclamation of Queen Victoria, in which she promised that she and her officers would work for the welfare of their Indian subjects, ushered in the final phase of the British Raj. Among Indians, there were debates surrounding female education, widow remarriage, the age of consent for marriage, and more generally the status of women; and in the meanwhile, with increasing emphasis on English education, and the expansion of the government, larger numbers of Indians joined government service. There was, similarly, a considerable increase in both English-language and vernacular journalism, and in 1885 the Indian National Congress, at first an association comprised largely of lawyers and some other professionals, was founded in order that educated Indians might gain something of a voice in the governance of their own country. However, nationalist sentiments could not be confined within the parameters set by a gentlemanly organization such as the Congress, and both in Maharashtra, where the radicals were led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and in Bengal armed revolutionaries attempted to carry out a campaign of terror and assassination directed at British officials and institutions. In 1905, on the grounds that the governance of Bengal had become impossible owing to the large size of the presidency, the British partitioned Bengal, and so provoked the first major resistance to British rule and administrative policies in the aftermath of the Rebellion of 1857-58. It is during the Swadeshi movement that Indians deployed various strategies of non-violent resistance, boycott, strike and non-cooperation, and eventually the British had to agree to revoke the partition of Bengal. The partition itself had been attempted partly with a view to dividing the largely Muslim area of East Bengal from the western part of Bengal, which was predominantly Hindu, and the communalist designs of the British were clearly demonstrated as well in their encouragement of the Muslim League, a political formation that came into existence in 1907, on the supposition that the interests of the Muslims could not be served by the Indian National Congress. The capital of the country was shifted as well from Calcutta to Delhi, where a new set of official buildings designed to reflect imperial splendor led to the creation of New Delhi.

    During World War I, when Britain declared that India was at war with Germany as well, large number of Indian troops served overseas, and the declaration by the Secretary of State Montagu in 1917 to the effect that it would be the intent of the Government of India to increase gradually Indian participation in the administration of the country was seen as an encouragement of Indian ambitions of eventual self-rule. But following the conclusion of the war, the British sought to introduce draconian legislation to contain the activity of people presumed to be political extremists, and the Punjab disturbances of 1919, including the notorious massacre by General Dyer of nearly 400 unarmed Indians at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in April, marked the emergence of a nation-wide movement against British rule. The events of 1919 also brought to the fore Mahatma Gandhi, who would henceforth be the uncrowned king of the Indian nationalist movement. Gandhi led the non-cooperation movement against the British in 1920-22, as well as a campaign of civil disobedience in 1930-31, and in 1942 he issued the call to the British to 'Quit India'. Negotiations for some degree of Indian independence, led by Gandhi, first took place in 1930 at the Round Table Conferences in London, but shortly thereafter the Congress decided to adopt a resolution calling for purna swaraj, or complete independence from British rule. Meanwhile, relations between the Hindus and Muslims had deteriorated, and during the latter years of World War II, when the leaders of the Congress, including Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Sardar Patel were incarcerated, the Muslim League, which declared itself in support of the British war effort, had a free hand to spread the message of Muslim separatism. When, in the aftermath of the war, and the triumph of the Labor party, the British Prime Minister Clement Atlee declared that the British would grant India its independence, negotiations were commenced with all the major political parties and communities, including the Sikhs, the Congress, and the Muslim League. In launching Direct Action Day in 1946, which led to immense communal killings in Calcutta, the Muslim League sought to convey the idea that an undivided India was no longer a possibility; and the eventual attainment of independence from British rule on 15 August 1947 was accompanied not only by the creation of the new state of Pakistan, comprised of Muslim-majority areas in both the eastern and western parts of India, but by the unprecedented horrors of partition. At least 500,000 people are estimated to have been killed, and many women were abducted or raped; and it is estimated that no fewer than 11 million Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs crossed borders, which to this day remains the single largest episode of migration in history.

    ACK # 344 (#738)

    Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das (1870-1925)

    Chittaranjan Das, a revolutionary freedom fighter, was endearingly called ‘Deshabandhu’ (Friend of the Nation). Born on 5 November 1870 in Calcutta, he belonged to an upper middle-class family of Telirbagh, in Dacca district.

    Chittaranjan’s patriotic ideas were greatly influenced by his father, Bhuban Mohan Das, a reputed Solicitor of the Calcutta High Court. It was Bankim Chandra who influenced him in his political ideas. It was not before 1917 that Das came to the forefront of nationalist politics. In that year he was invited to preside over the Bengal Provincial Conference held at Bhowanipore. His political career was brief but meteoric. In the course of only eight years he rose to all-India fame by virtue of his intense patriotism, sincerity and oratorical power.

    He wanted "Swaraj for the masses, not for the classes". To him, "Swaraj is government by the people and for the people". An advocate of communal harmony and Hindu-Muslim unity, Das effected, in 1923, the Bengal Pact between the Hindus and Muslims of Bengal, though opposed by a section of the Congress. A champion of national education and the vernacular medium, he felt that the masses should be properly educated to participate in the nationalist movement. He deprecated the prevalent western system of education that would only promote "a kind of soulless culture". His religious and social outlook was liberal. He was against caste-discrimination and untouchability. A believer in women’s emancipation and widow re-marriage, he supported the spread of female education and widow remarriage.

    Great as a jurist, and dynamic as a leader of Bengal, Chittaranjan was an apostle of Indian nationalism. In the words of Rabindranath Tagore (1913 Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature), " the best gift that Chittaranjan left for his countrymen is not any particular political or social programme but the creative force of a great aspiration that has taken a deathless form in the sacrifice which his life represented".

    The country lost one of its great sons in the passing away of C.R. Das on 16 June 1925. The funeral procession in Calcutta was led by Mahatma Gandhi, who said:

    "Deshbandhu was one of the greatest of men... He dreamed... and talked of freedom of India and of nothing else... His heart knew no difference between Hindus and Mussalmans and I should like to tell Englishmen, too, that he bore no ill-will to them."

    Read some more details at Wikipedia


    Out of print ACKs #356 & #360

    Many many thanks to “Apoorva Chandar” for providing all these ACK scans.

    Saturday, January 24, 2009

    ACK-056: Mangal Pandey

    ACK #334 (#675)

    Acknowledged as one of the first freedom fighter and martyr of India, Mangal Pandey was born on 19 July 1827 in the village of Nagwa in the Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh. A sepoy (soldier) in the 34th Regiment of the Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) of the English East India Company, he entered the annals of Indian history for attacking his British officers, sparking off the First War of Indian Independence or as the British termed it, the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. At Barrackpore near Kolkata on March 29, 1857, Pandey attacked and injured his British sergeant, besides wounding an adjutant. A native soldier prevented him from killing the adjutant and the sergant-major. He was arrested and sentenced to death. He was hanged on April 8, 1857.

    The primary reason behind Mangal Pandey's behavior was because of a new type of bullet cartridge used in the Enfield P-53 rifle. It was rumoured that the cartridge was greased with animal fat (pig and cow fat), which neither Hindus nor Muslims consumed. The cartridges had to be bitten off to remove the cover, which was detested by both the Hindu and Muslim soldiers in the army. The general feeling was that British intentionally did it. What added to the discontent was that the Commandant of the 34th BNI (Bengal Native Infantry) was a known Christian preacher.

    A stamp issued by the Government of India on October 5, 1984 commemorating the 'freedom fighter' Mangal Pandey.

    Read more: Wikipedia

    Many many thanks to “Apoorva Chandar” for providing ACK scan.