International News – June-August 2016

Current Affairs – International News General Awareness – June-August 2016 – for general awareness paper of various competitive exams

ARMS RACE

The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) has officially declared India’s membership, stating that as a new member India will be entitled to “full participation” in organisational activities. India had firmed up its claim to MTCR by joining The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC). MTCR membership will enable India to buy high-end missile technology and also enhance its joint ventures with Russia. MTCR aims at restricting the proliferation of missiles, complete rocket systems, unmanned air vehicles and related technology for those systems capable of carrying a 500 kilogram payload for at least 300 kilometres, as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

ENVIRONMENT

A two-day meeting of BRICS Parliamentarians on disaster management was held in Udaipur, India, in August 2016. The meeting laid bare the common thread of challenges on disaster issues faced by all the BRICS nations. The member nations agreed to move away from relief-centric to a holistic approach to disasters with a greater emphasis on prevention, mitigation and preparedness. The roadmap for implementation of three-year joint action plan (JAP) for BRICS emergency services (2016-18) was also finalized. The JAP had been agreed upon at the first meeting of BRICS ministers for disaster management at St. Petersburg in Russia.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

EU-BRITAIN: on 23 June 2016, Britain voted to end its 43-year old association with the European Union in a landmark referendum. The country voted 52%-48% in favour of ‘Leave’ to become the first member State to exit the 28-nation European Union. Nigel Farage, leader of the euro-sceptic UK Independence Party called for June 23 “to go down in history as independence day.”

TURKEY-ISRAEL: On 27 June 2016, Turkey announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel after a six-year rupture and expressed regret to Russia over the downing of a warplane, seeking to mend strained alliances and ease a sense of isolation on the world stage. The deal with Israel after years of negotiation was a rare rapprochement in the divided Middle East, driven by the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals as well as mutual fears over growing security risks. Relations between Israel and what was once its principle Muslim ally had crumbled after Israeli marines stormed an activist ship in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and killed 10 Turks on board.

WORLD ECONOMY

India has surpassed Japan to become the world’s third-largest oil consumer, with its oil demand galloping 8.1% in 2015, according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy. With demand of 4.1 million barrels per day, India is the third-largest consumer behind US (19.39 million bpd) and China (11.96 million bpd). India accounted for 4.5% of world oil consumption in 2015.

COUNTRY SPECIFIC

BRAZIL: On 31 August 2016, President Dilma Rousseff was stripped of her office in the culmination of a political crisis that has left Latin America’s largest nation adrift. Rousseff was impeached on arcane charges having to do with violating budget laws. The 61-to-20 Senate vote closed out an extraordinary 13-year rule by the leftist Workers’ Party, which boasted of lifting tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty before the economy began to nose-dive and its political fortunes soured. Rousseff was replaced by her former Vice-President and coalition partner, Michel Temer, who had been running Brazil as interim president since she was suspended to face the impeachment trial. He belongs to the more conservative Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB, and is trying to introduce austerity measures to right the economy. Brazil has now impeached two of the four presidents it has elected since returning to democracy in 1985 after two decades of military dictatorship.

RUSSIA: The Russian Parliament has passed the “Yarovaya law”, which are anti-terrorism laws that critics allege compromise on privacy and personal freedoms. The new legislations state that telephone and internet companies must keep all communication records for six months and must also help intelligence agencies to decode encrypted messages. The laws also restrict missionary work to designated areas.

General Knowledge – Awards – June-August 2016

Current General Knowledge for General Awareness Paper of competitive exams

Arjuna Award 2016
Rajat Chauhan (archery), Lalita Babar (athletics), Sourav Kothari (billiards and snooker), Shiva Thapa (boxing), Ajinkya Rahane (cricket), Subrata Paul (football), Rani (hockey), VR Raghunath (hockey), Gurpreet Singh (shooting), Apurvi Chandela (shooting), Soumyajit Ghosh (table tennis), Vinesh (wrestling), Amit Kumar (wrestling), Sandeep Singh Mann (para-athletics), Virender Singh (wrestling, deaf).

Ashok Chakra 2016
Havildar Hangpan Dada, 36, who died in Kupwara on 27 May 2016, after killing three terrorists, has been awarded Ashok Chakra 2016. He hailed from Boduria village in Arunachal Pradesh.

Dhyan Chand Award 2016
Satti Geetha (athletics), Sylvanus Dung Dung (hockey) and Rajendra Prahlad Shelke (rowing).

Dronacharya Award 2016
Dipa Karmakar’s coach, Bishweshwar Nandi, Nagapuri Ramesh (athletics), Sagar Mal Dhayal (boxing), Raj Kumar Sharma (cricket), S. Pradeep Kumar (swimming-lifetime) and Mahabir Singh (wrestling-lifetime).

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy 2015-16
Punjabi University of Patiala has been awarded the trophy.

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award 2016
Olympic medallists P.V. Sindhu and Sakshi Malik; ace gymnast Dipa Karmakar, who lost a medal by a whisker; and shooter Jitu Rai. This was for the first time the nation’s highest sporting award was conferred on four athletes.

Ramon Magsaysay Award 2016
Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers for “building a world of genuine solidarity”; Bezwada Wilson (India) for “asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity”. He was born to a dalit family in Kolar Gold Fields township in Karnataka. Although his family had been engaged in manual scavenging for generations, he was spared the labour to be the first in his family to pursue higher education. Treated as an outcast in school and acutely aware of his family’s lot, he was filled with great anger, but he channelled this anger to a crusade to eradicate manual scavenging; Dompet Dhuafa (Indonesia), for “redefining the landscape of zakat-based philanthropy in Indonesia, unleashing the potential of the Islamic faith to uplift, irrespective of their creed, the lives of millions”. Zakat (“charity”) is the obligatory tax on an adult Muslim’s wealth, that is dedicated every year to helping the poor and needy. DD’s (short for “Dompet Dhuafa”) economic projects have included building public facilities, support for small and medium enterprises, farm production and marketing assistance, a bank providing preferential loans to the poor, and a training-and-support program that has upgraded the capacities of hundreds of microfinance groups in Indonesia;  Conchita Carpio-Morales (Philippines), for “her moral courage and commitment to justice in taking head-on one of the most intractable problems in the Philippines, promoting by her example of incorruptibility, diligence, vision and leadership, the highest ethical standards in public service”; Vientiane Rescue (Laos), for “its heroic work in saving Laotian lives in a time and place of great need, under the most deprived of circumstances, inspiring by their passionate humanitarianism a similar generosity of spirit in many others”; T.M. Krishna (India), for his forceful commitment as artist and advocate to art’s power to heal India’s deep social divisions, breaking barriers of caste and class to unleash what music has to offer not just for some but for all”.

 

India’s Foreign Relations – June-August 2016

INDIA-AFGHANISTAN: Marking the completion of a landmark Afghan development project, , built on river Chist-e-Sharif in western Herat, during his visit to Afghanistan in June 2016. The Dam will irrigate 75,000 hectares of farmland in arid parts of western Afghanistan, besides generating 42-MW electricity. Originally constructed in 1976, the reservoir was damaged in the Afghanistan civil war. The Afghanistan government in 2015 changed the name of the project from Salma dam to Afghan-India Friendship Dam.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred with Amir Amanullah Khan Award, Afghanistan’s highest civilian honour.

INDIA-BANGLADESH: On 31 July 2016, Indian Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and his Bangladeshi counterpart Mazibul Hoque jointly laid the foundation stone for the 15 km Agartala (India) – Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway project. The Agartala-Akhaura railway project was finalised in January 2010 when Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina met then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during her visit to New Delhi. The project, which was sanctioned in the 2012-13 railway budget, would be a part of the Trans-Asian Railway network and would provide a much shorter connectivity from north-eastern States of India to Kolkata, via Bangladesh.

INDIA-GHANA:  In June 2016, Pranab Mukherjee became the first Indian President to visit Ghana. He addressed a joint business forum meeting in the country, and also held delegation-level talks on agreements on visa waiver. The tour came as a part of India’s ‘Outreach to Africa’ initiative.

INDIA-IVORY COST: President Pranab Mukherjee, during his official visit to Ivory Coast in June 2016, was accorded honorary citizenship of Abidjan when he was given a key to Ivory Coast’s economic capital. The honour is bestowed upon visiting Heads of States. He was also given a traditional tribal name ‘Asito’ which means ‘example’ that should be followed by younger generations.

INDIA-KENYA: During the visit to Kenya, in July 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta which led to the two sides deciding to deepen and expand cooperation in a wide range of areas as they signed seven pacts, including in the field of defence and security and avoidance of double taxation.

INDIA-MEXICO: During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Mexico, in June 2016, bilateral investments were a major focus during the talks. Both countries agreed to elevate their ‘Privileged Partnership’ into a strategic one and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto extended support for India’s NSG bid. Mexico also extended support to India’s International Solar Alliance initiative, which was launched at the Paris climate talks in 2015. Two-way trade between India and Mexico stands at around $6 billion. Within Asia, India is the largest importer of crude oil from Mexico.

INDIA-MOROCCO: During the visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari to Morocco, the two countries signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for improving bilateral relations in different areas, including cultural exchange, water and information technology.

INDIA-MOZAMBIQUE:  During the visit to Mozambique in July 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with President Filipe Nyusi. The two countries signed three pacts, including a significant “long-term agreement” under which India will buy pulses from this African nation to meet its recurring shortfall and contain prices of this commodity.

INDIA-MYANMAR: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Myanmar in August 2016 as part of the “Act East” policy of engaging with countries in Southeast Asia to drive an agenda of cooperative development. She held talks with Myanmar’s de facto ruler Aung San Suu Kyi, the first high-level contact between the two countries since the National League for Democracy came to power in 2015. Swaraj also met President Htin Kyaw. Talks between the two sides focussed on bilateral relations, the forthcoming BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit in India, and security cooperation aimed at countering the activities of Myanmar-based militant groups from north-eastern States such as Nagaland, Manipur and Assam.

Security and connectivity issues dominated talks during the visit of President Htin Kyaw of Myanmar. Among the deals signed were two pacts to speed up construction of the Asian Trilateral Highway and agreeing to cooperate in efforts to fight insurgency. India also offered full support and backing to the new government in Myanmar, installed in March 2016, for its efforts to improve infrastructure.

INDIA-QATAR: During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Qatar, in June 2016, India and Qatar signed seven agreements and agreed to share intelligence to combat ‘hawala’ transactions (illegal money movement) and terror financing. The two countries also agreed to move beyond “trading relationship” and get into “strategic investments”.

INDIA-SOUTH AFRICA:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his official visit to South Africa in July 2016, signed four pacts with South African President Jacob Zuma, which are linked to the fields of information and communications technology, tourism, arts and culture, and science and technology. He also sought deeper collaboration with South Africa in the defence sector. Mr Modi also relived Mahatma Gandhi’s 1893 train journey between Pentrich and Pietermaritzburg. Business leaders from India and South Africa also signed eight MoUs at a CEO forum on the side-lines of Prime Minister Modi’s visit—in sectors including mining, railways, defence and education.

INDIA-SWITZERLAND: Prime Minister Narendra Modi scored a big win for India’s bid to be admitted to the Nuclear Suppliers Group or NSG, a 48-member club of nuclear trading nations, during his visit to Switzerland in June 2016. After a meeting with Mr Modi in Geneva, Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann, said, “We have promised India support in its efforts to become a member of NSG.” India has remained shut out for decades from the NSG because of its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while it developed its nuclear technology. Switzerland also promised to work with Indian authorities to tackle tax dodgers who stash money in Swiss bank accounts to avoid Indian taxes.

INDIA-TANZANIA:  India and Tanzania signed five bilateral agreements during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the African country in July 2016. These included the extension of a $92 million line of credit by India for the rehabilitation of the water supply system in Tanzania’s Zanzibar region, an MoUs on water resource management and visa waiver for diplomatic passport holders.

INDIA-TUNISIA: During the visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari to Tunisia, in June 2016, both countries signed two MoUs on promotion of handicrafts and IT and communication and digital economy and discussed a range of issues of mutual and regional interests, including issue of spreading tide of extremism and terrorism which is a threat faced by both the nations.

INDIA-USA:  During the three-day visit to USA in June 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with President Barack Obama, who reiterated America’s support for India’s entry to the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group), which currently has 48 countries who trade in sophisticated nuclear technology and material while ensuring it is not used for weapons. Prime Minister Modi also became the fifth Indian leader since 1985 to address a joint session of the US Congress, and the first foreign leader to be invited to do so in 2016.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker visited Delhi in August 2016 to chair the annual strategic and commercial dialogue that was co-chaired by the External Affairs Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj and Commerce and Industry Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman. The dialogue reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relationship. India made a strong push for greater US support in getting a membership to the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Business ties, defence cooperation and clean energy initiatives were also focussed. The two sides also explored means for greater US participation in the Make in India flagship in the defence sector. Progress in the establishment of the Working Groups on Aircraft Carrier Technology and Jet Engine was reviewed.

In August 2016, India signed the bilateral Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) that will give the militaries of both countries access to each other’s facilities for supplies and repairs. The agreement will allow the Indian and US navies to have an easier time supporting each other in joint operations and exercises and when providing humanitarian assistance. While it is an enabling agreement, LEMOA does not make logistical support automatic or obligatory for either party. LEMOA is one of the four ‘foundational agreements’ that the USA enters into with its defence partners. With LEMOA, India has signed two of the four. The first one was signed in 2002—the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).

Current General Knowledge – Days & Years

World Oceans Day is observed on June 8. The 2016 theme was “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet” to encourage individuals and organizations across the planet to take action for prevention of plastic pollution in our oceans.

15 June is observed as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

World Refugee Day, a day dedicated by the United Nations to increase awareness about the situation of refugees, is celebrated worldwide on June 20 every year.

World Public Service Day, a day dedicated by the United Nations to “celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community”, is observed on 23 June.

International Widows’ Day, a day dedicated by the United Nations “to give special recognition to the situation of widows of all ages and across regions and cultures”, is observed on 23 June.

August 7 has been declared as National Handloom Day to mark the Swadeshi movement, which was launched on this day in 1905. The movement involved revival of domestic products and production processes.

World Photo Day is observed annually on 19 August to acknowledge passion for photography.  World’s first photograph made in a camera was taken by French scientist Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1820s.

SSB Interview Defence Services Recruitment

Armed forces offer very exciting career to young men and women in several fields. Career in the forces, in addition as a career, is also an adventure in itself. To ensure that appropriate candidates are chosen, a comprehensive selection process is adopted by the armed forces through Service Selection Board (SSB) interview. This system of selection is based on the “trait theory” of leadership which assumes that every leader must have some specific and pre-determined leadership traits. It also presumes that such traits can be acquired by a candidate with the passage of time meaning thereby that a person once rejected in an SSB interview is likely to succeed if he acquires some of the traits with the passage of time. The present system of selection, although is long and takes four to five days, is thus based on an objective assessment of each candidate in which the qualities like initiative, alertness, judgement, courage, physical fitness endurance, cooperation, group planning, decisiveness, knowledge, etc. are judged. In addition, psychological and mental robustness of the candidate vis-a-vis requirements of the Armed Forces is judged and finally an overall assessment of the personality of a candidate is made by way of an exhaustive personal interview.

Scheme of Selection
The existing scheme of selection was initially designed in the US army, after the second World War. The system was adopted in the selection of officers in Army, Navy and Air Force for induction through National Defence Academy, Army Cadet Corps, Officers Training Academy, Indian Military Academy, Air Force Academy or Naval Academy.

The selection process has the following stages/components.

(a) Psychological/Intelligence Test.
(b) Group Testing Officer’s (GTO’s) Test.
(c) Personal Interview.
(d) Medical Examination.

It is evident that the interview is mainly confined to first three stages of examination while the fourth one concerns the medical examination of only those who get through in the SSB interview comprising of first three components. Evaluation of a candidate is made by three independent examiners. The psychological test is carried out by a psychologist and GTO test is given by a Group Testing Officer (GTO). Personal interview is carried out by the interviewing officer who usually is also the President of the Board.

The interview being an integrated process, culminates with the conference on the final day when all the three examiners get together to give the final assessment of the candidate. If there is any doubt on any aspect of the personality of the candidate, a few questions are put to him/her and the evaluation is done accordingly. All the candidates who manage to obtain minimum prescribed marks are declared selected. There is no quota or percentage fixed about the number of candidates to be selected and the selection purely depends on the performance of the individuals. The selected candidates then have to undergo a comprehensive medical examination to be finally recommended for selection.

Through this series of features on careers an effort is being made to acquaint the candidates, particularly the fresh candidates, with the techniques of SSB interviews and strategy to be adopted to overcome this final hurdle to a challenging career in the defence forces. In the first part of this series, psychological tests are being dealt with in detail.

The scheme of selection is almost same for Army, Navy and Air Force with the only difference that in case of interviews for the flying branch of Air Force, an additional aptitude test is given to the candidates right at the beginning. The interview usually lasts for four to five days and the arrangements for free boarding and lodging are made for the candidates. Moreover, the candidates appearing before the Board for the first time are entitled to claim travelling allowance for to-and-fro journey up to the selection centre.

Questionnaire
Immediately on arrival at the Selection Board a questionnaire is given to all the candidates in which, in addition to personal details, including educational qualifications and details of family, hobbies, games and other extra curricular activities, details about other important happenings in life, friends, ambitions, etc are also sought from the candidates. This questionnaire usually forms the basis for interview. This part also assumes importance, considering the fact that it is of importance to a psychologist to know what a candidate thinks of oneself.

Psychological Tests
(a) Intelligence Tests: First and important part of psychological tests is the intelligence test. There are two types of intelligence tests. In the first, usually 80 questions are required to be answered within 30 or 35 minutes. The time is lesser for the second in which 60 questions on figures are required to be answered in 20 to 25 minutes. This test presumes that even under adverse circumstances an intelligent person will be able to answer more number of questions accurately. The questions are objective type with multiple choice answers.

To attempt maximum number of questions correctly, the candidates are advised to attempt those questions to start with, about which they are fully sure. The questions which need some more time to answer, must be skipped initially and if after attempting other questions there is some time left, it can then be devoted to the left-out questions. Exhaustive practice in these tests, which appear regularly in the Competition Master, can be of great help in attempting the intelligence tests effectively. A candidate who achieves a good score in these tests may get the benefit of being placed higher in the order of merit if he/she finally makes it in the interview.

(b) Word Association Test:This test aims at judging the personality traits and basic psychology of a candidate. It brings out attitudes, thoughts, desires, feelings and even negative aspects of one’s personality. For testing the word association, candidates are shown a word of common usage for about 15 seconds, during which time candidates are supposed to write a sentence. After 15 seconds are over, another word is exposed for 15 seconds, the process continues and candidates are asked to write 50 sentences. The words are easy and of day-to-day usage. Time given to the candidates is so short that they have to write down the very first thought that comes after seeing the word. The psychologists analyse the personality traits, attitudes and feelings on the basis of these natural reactions of the candidates to specific words.

There can be no ready-made solutions to the word association test. However, with a little bit of practice the candidates can choose correct sentence. The pessimistic, negative, pervert and counter-productive feelings must be avoided whereas positive feelings of success, honesty, respectfulness, uprightness, optimism, humanism, etc should be highlighted. For example, the word “failure”, can be used as “Failure cannot always be avoided”, or “Failures are the pillars of success”. Whereas the former sentence depicts pessimism and defeat, the latter sentence shows how a negative word can also be used in a positive manner. On similar lines the candidates must prepare himself beforehand for words like defeat, death, disease wrong, etc. It must be ensured that the sentences used are small and convey some positive aspect of one’s psyche. Due care must be taken to ensure that the sentences do not depict the feeling of fear, insecurity, anxiety, cowardice, etc. To do well in this test the candidates must practice with several sets of words and do the self appraisal.

(c) Thematic Apperception Test (TAT): This technique, also called picture story writing, is one of the most important aspects of psychological test at SSBs. This technique aims at judging the overall personality of a candidate by judging the traits like fearlessness, positive frame of mind, initiative, judgement, courage, temperament, ambitions, and more particularly candidates’ suitability for the armed forces. This test is conducted by showing several slides/pictures (usually ten) to the candidate for a short while. Then he is asked to write a small story on the picture. The picture is shown for 30 seconds and the candidate is given a time of 3 minutes for writing a brief story. Needless to say that the time duration is very less and the candidates must think and write fast to complete the story within the stipulated time.

The candidates need special practice to attempt this test successfully. It must be clearly understood that the story which is written by the candidates, depicts their own thoughts, perceptions and imaginations. Hence the initial 30-second time while the picture is displayed, must be utilised in most useful manner. After devoting minimum possible time for understanding the picture, the candidate should appreciate the situation, identify the hero of the story and prepare a simple but well thought of plot for the story. The plot should be simple considering the fact that the story has to be written within 3-minutes. The planned story should depict the feelings of courage, success, hard-work, initiative, ambition, achievement, helpfulness, patriotism and positive bent of mind. It should be ensured that no unnecessary time is wasted in describing the picture. The picture only depicts one of the situations which could form part of the story. It is pertinent to add that candidates may expect at least one picture each about hospital scene, war, road accident, a captive lady, a frustrated youth, a river, a thief, a graveyard, etc. There may be a few vague pictures also. Practice on writing stories on above situation/pictures would assist the candidates to do well in this test.

(d) Situation Reaction Test (SRT): This is last in the series of psychological tests. In the SRT, the candidates are given 4 to 5 reactions to a particular day-to-day situation and the candidates are asked to choose the most appropriate one. This test aims at judging a candidate’s aptitude towards cooperation, group interests and positive thinking. No answer is out-rightly incorrect or correct. The candidates get weighted marks depending on the degree of correctness of an answer. In all 50 to 60 situations have to be reacted upon in 25 to 30 minutes. The candidates must exercise due care while choosing the alternatives as two to three alternatives may appear to be correct. The answer which appears to be the best in a real life situation must be chosen. Initially, questions appearing easier to answer should be chosen and the candidates should avoid conflicting replies and be considered.

The second part of the interview contains Group Testing Officer’s (GTO’s) Test. While the first part aims at testing the intelligence and frame of mind of a candidate, the GTO’s test is a complete test of one’s personality, including physical fitness, mental obtuseness, leadership qualities, planning flexibility, expression, knowledge, argumentative capabilities, etc. In other words, the performance of every candidate is gauged as a member of a group, and leader of the group, so that his/her behaviour as equal, superior or subordinate is keenly observed and assessed. The group worthiness of a candidate is tested.

The GTO’s test includes the following six broad sub-tests:
Group discussion
Group planning exercise
Group obstacles
Command Task
Individual obstacles
Lecturette

Group Discussion
Candidates are divided in groups of 8 to 10 and each group is tested by a GTO. Usually two topics of general interest are given by the GTO to the group and the group is asked to choose one of the topics, on the basis of which the group is asked to proceed with discussion. Every candidate is supposed to express his opinion and views on the topic given. The time for discussion is approximately 20 minutes. After the discussion on the first topic is closed, GTO gives the second topic. During the discussion, the GTO quietly observes the performance and behaviour of the candidates and makes his own assessment.

The group discussion tests the expression, argumentative capabilities, depth of knowledge, initiative, flexibility, participation and authenticity of a candidate. The candidates must comprehend the topic properly, carry out a mental framework of line of discussion to be pursued and plan the discussion quickly. It is always better to take the initiative to start the discussion. Self confidence, clarity in expression, appreciation of opinion of others, keen interest, flexibility and knowledge are some of the properties which are sought by the GTO. Proper tone, volume and level of voice are other important aspects of a good candidate. To do well at group discussions, it is suggested that the candidates should prepare well by selecting certain topics of general interest like role of science, democracy, role of women, sports, evils of dowry, family planning, compulsory military training, students and politics, status of Indian women, etc.

Group Planning Exercise
Under the group planning exercise, a situation is given to the candidates usually on a sand model or cloth model. Each candidate is given the situation in which some problem like taking a patient to hospital within stipulated time, reporting the matter to the police or any other situation is depicted and certain facilities as well as limitations are explained. Considering these given limitations and facilities, the candidates are required to prepare a plan to successfully accomplish the task. The time allotted to the candidates, to write down the solution, is about 10 minutes. Soon after writing down the solution, the group is asked to discuss the solutions and arrive at a group plan. The group then nominates a leader who gets up and gives the group plan. After this, others are also asked to give their plans if there is some material difference in the plan. For this exercise a further time of about 20 minutes is given. The test is planned to test the understanding and analytical capability of the candidates. In addition, in a group where no one is nominated a group leader, opportunity is provided to the natural leaders to emerge as leaders and take over the reins of the group. The individual plan tests the analytical ability and the discussion of the group plan sees whether the candidate is prepared to accept a superior plan over his plan or he is able to convince the group about superiority of his plan against an inferior plan being considered by the group. The candidates must properly appreciate the problem, take stock of the resources available with them and then try to generate some alternatives in the given situation. After considering the pros and cons of every alternative, best alternative should be accepted. By actively participating in the group plan discussion, the candidates should try to get themselves nominated as the group leader to get an edge over the other candidates.

Group Obstacles
Next part of GTO’s fest is the group obstacles. It has four sub-parts including Progressive Group Task, Group Obstacle Race, Half Group Task and Final Group Task. These tasks are designed to test the behaviour of a candidate in a group where there are no group leaders nominated. The GTO, therefore, keenly observes the candidates for their qualities like cooperation, group belonging feelings, natural leadership qualities, planning, initiative and task orientation. Group obstacles in all the four sub-parts are in the form of obstacles which cannot be negotiated by an individual and need a group of persons to cross it. The group is explained that within the obstacle area, in which particular parts are “out of bounds”, the entire group has to cross the obstacle within a given period of time with the assistance of tools like ropes, planks, wooden logs, etc. The progressive group task has four tasks with each successive task getting tougher and final group task is the repeat exercise to facilitate the GTO to observe only the potential candidates.

The group obstacle race is in the form of an inter-group race in which they also have to carry a sack type of load while crossing the obstacles. Half group task is given by dividing the group into two sub-groups, facilitating the GTO in observing the candidates in a better manner. While crossing these obstacles, or planning to cross these, the candidates should think objectively to negotiate the obstacles with the help of given material. There are usually more than one solution to each obstacle. Immediately on getting the solution, the candidates must start asserting themselves by also seeking advice and suggestions of other candidates. Even if the candidate is unable to arrive at any solution he should try to assume the role of a mediator between several candidates having diverse solutions. Even while actually negotiating the obstacle endeavour should be to take on the most difficult tasks so that an impression of task orientation and leading by example is created in the mind of the GTO.

Command Task
Command Task is aimed at testing the leadership and command capabilities of candidates. In all the earlier exercises, the natural leaders are allowed to emerge. But in some cases, where there are more than one natural leaders, the strongest one will overshadow rest of them. Similarly, a person who is shy by nature, may not be able to exhibit his leadership qualities in a group of equals and hence an opportunity is given to such candidates to show their worth in a formalised situation, where they are declared leaders. In the command task the nature of obstacles and facilitating material remain the same. The only change is that one candidate is nominated as a formal leader, asked to choose his team, plans to negotiate the obstacle and finally executes the plan. The candidate’s judgement, planning and analytical capabilities are checked and his capabilities to get a task executed are also tested. The candidate must, therefore, choose his team carefully, choosing the best candidates who are cooperative and physically strong. This reflects his objective assessment of subordinates. Then the leader must explain to his men the objective or task, the facilitating material available to them and spell out the plan as to how he planned to accomplish the task. The plan should be clear and spelt out in clear and commanding manner. After explaining the task to his men, the leader should go ahead with the proper execution of the task by properly supervising and giving supplementary instructions if required. Normally, the work should be got executed from the chosen candidates, but in case some part of obstacle negotiation needs his assistance, he should be ready to do so. At times, the commander may find it difficult to plan a solution to the obstacle. Under such a situation, the commander may ask the members of the group to suggest to him the possible solution.

Individual Obstacles
There are 10 obstacles which are required to be negotiated by every individual within a stipulated period of 3 minutes. The obstacles are not very tough and can be negotiated by any candidate with average physical fitness. These obstacles include climbing ropes, jumping, swinging on ropes, climbing wall, walking over a beam and parallel ropes, etc. The relatively difficult obstacles carry higher marks and easier ones have lesser. In case a candidate can repeat some of the obstacles, after completing all in the given time period, such a candidate gets more than maximum marks to the extent of repetition of obstacles. To do well at this test, the candidate must try to achieve a particular level of physical fitness before proceeding to the SSB interviews. Easier obstacles should be attempted first and even if one is unable to complete all the obstacles within three minutes, one should be satisfied as in the words of one GTO “armed forces need officers, not monkeys”. Nevertheless, this test aims at looking for bare minimum level of physical fitness, which can be built up by rigorous pre-commission training in the Training Acadmeies.

Lecturette
Lecturette is last in the series of GTO’s tests and is aimed at testing the speech of a candidate. A leader should be able to speak effectively, attract attention while he is talking, have a clear head and clear line of thinking. These qualities are tested by giving a small test to the candidates known as lecturette. This candidate is given about four topic of general nature which do not need any specialised knowledge. The candidates are required to select one topic, prepare for three minutes and then deliver a speech to the group for a period of three minutes. While taking this test, the candidate must select the subject/topic on which he is fully confident of having enough knowledge and material to speak for three minutes. Unnecessary movements of hands, legs, fingers etc should be avoided and the speech should be delivered in a pleasant but authoritative voice. The views expressed should be balanced and extreme positions in views should be avoided. The clarity of thoughts and ideas must be insured.

It is evident from the above that the GTO’s test is a comprehensive test of one’s personality. An objective assessment of personality of the candidates is made by observing their behaviour in a group and as a leader as well. Capabilities of the candidates like knowledge, expression, leadership, initiative, physical fitness, planning capabilities, understanding, disposition, grasp and task orientation, etc are tested by following a comprehensive and objective method of personality test. The GTO makes the assessment by assigning marks in each of the six exercises and then finally allots the aggregate marks on the basis of overall average assessment.

Personal interview is the last hurdle in the selection process to the defence forces through SSB Interviews, apart from the medical examination. Every candidate is tested by a psychologist, G.T.O. and finally by the President or Deputy President of the Selection Board.

The aim of the personal interview is to have a closer look at the personality of every candidate through conversation in friendly discussion. To keep the interview formal and the candidate at ease, only one interviewer interacts with the candidate. The information given by the candidate, on the very first day in the questionnaire, forms the initial basis for questions during the course of interview.

Conduct
At an average, every interview lasts about 30-40 minutes. The President of the Board begins in a very friendly manner by asking very personal questions from the candidates like name, detail of the brothers and sisters, occupation of parents, names of good friends, place to which the candidate belonged. About 10 minutes-time is devoted on these questions so that the candidate is put at ease. Name of the educational institutions where one studied, subjects offered, marks obtained etc are a few other questions that may be initially expected. In addition to putting a candidate at ease, the President also observes the qualities of friendliness and the ease with which one can handle simple and personal questions. Other questions in the interview may be about games played, hobbies, girl/boy friends and the means adopted by the candidate to remain fit. As a young and educated person, one is expected to either play or have keen interest in some games. Similarly, every person is expected to have a hobby, be it reading, playing games, swimming, driving, gardening, philately, riding, photography or travelling. Every young candidate, aspiring to become an officer in the armed forces, is also expected to have friendship with the opposite sex. Hence all these questions must be answered accordingly.

Final part of the personal interview may include a few questions on current topics, general knowledge, some imaginary situation for reaction and small simple problems for judging the administrative planning capabilities of the candidate. Problem solving may be judged by depicting a simple real-life imaginary situation involving the brothers, sisters, parents or friends to which reaction of the candidate is judged. Similarly, a small administrative problem may be given to a candidate including organisation of a match or a picnic. The candidate is then asked to give his/her step by step planning and execution and perception of happening of the event, without its actually taking place.

How to tackle?
As has been hinted above, the questions in the interview must be tackled very carefully. The candidates should not be in a hurry to reply the questions. The questions should be properly understood and after considering the contents for a while, reply should be given. Regarding personal questions, the candidates should be careful that they do not hide material facts or try to give wrong facts. It must be understood clearly that the President conducting the inverview handles several candidates every day and does the same thing over the years. Moreover, he is trained to interview candidates in such a manner as the truth comes out. Any attempt to hide some facts or give wrong facts will be certainly picked up by the experienced President and they usually make the candidate realise during the interview itself that he/she was trying to bluff. Moreover, no candidate is expected to be perfect, as every human being does have some weaknesses. However, it should also be ensured that no unnecessary details are given by the candidate. The replies should be to the point and relevant to the questions asked.

The same principle applies to the other questions like games played, hobbies pursued and friends (particularly from the opposite sex) held. The games which are stated to be played by the candidate should be ones about which the candidate has complete knowledge and is able to reply to most of the questions. Similarly, the interviewer devotes a lot of time to the hobby named by the candidate. The candidates must, therefore, make sure that the hobbies and games they name must be fully known to them. Rather than bluffing in this regard, it is better to give a negative reply. Moreover, as earlier pointed out it is good to have friends from the opposite sex with healthy and friendly relations. But in case there is no such friend, the fact should be admitted without hesitation.

Finally, the questions on current affairs and general knowledge need a little-bit of brushing up of knowledge in this field. Candidates who feel less confident in this part are advised to consult the General Knowledge Refresher by O.P. Khanna.

The questions on the reactions in given situations have to be handled very carefully. The candidates must grasp situation completely, clarify the doubts if any and after taking some time to think, come out clearly with the course of action. Choosing a right course of action is not very difficult. The candidates must imagine themselves in similar situation and consider the most probable course of action which would be taken by them, which invariably is also the right solution to the problem. In their reactions, the candidates must not bring in any artificiality and unnecessary heroism. They should react as if they would have done in a similar real life situation. Due care, therefore, must be exercised as this is one of the most crucial aspects of the interview. Two more questions which must be prepared properly are (a) “Why do you want to join the Defence Forces?”; (b) “If you are not selected what would you do?” These are often-repeated questions and must be answered very honestly and correctly, without any exaggeration.

Balanced Behaviour
While proper replies to the questions are important balanced conduct of the candidates is still more important. The candidates should avoid use of slangs and be very respectful to interviewer. Use of language and expression are the plus points but the candidates are usually not penalised for weak expression, as it is believed that the problems of fluency and expression are overcome during the training period. The candidates must be composed and maintain their poise. Lack of confidence in replying to the questions reflects lack of knowledge and self-confidence. At the same time one must not be over confident or arrogant.

The interviewers are trained to identify the signals sent by the body language along with the spoken word. Whatever is spoken from the mouth must be reflected from the eyes of the candidate as well the tone of his/her voice. Hence, body language must be controlled to convey the same meaning as the word of the mouth. Any contradiction reveals the untruthful intention of the candidate. It should, however, be kept in mind that no unnecessary gesticulations are made with hands and sitting posture is also proper, as recommended for the interviews.

The appearance and bearing of the candidate helps in making a good first impression. The clothes need not be new or highly fashionable and bright, but should be sober and properly cleaned. Hair should be properly groomed and hands should be properly cleaned with the nails cleanly cut. While describing their achievements, the candidates should be modest without being boastful and while admitting weaknesses and failures, they should not be ashamed or evasive. There must be eye-contact with the interviewer for most part of the interview.

Conference
The last stage in the selection process is the conference which takes place on the last day. During the earlier three stages, three selectors i.e. the psychologist, G.T.O. and the President carry out their tests independently. At the conference all the three selectors sit together, call the interviewee and ask two-three formal and routine questions. Candidates who qualify in all the three tests independently are declared successful. All those failing in all or any two are declared unsuccessful. A few candidates marginally failing in one of the tests, may expect a couple of more absorbing questions, including a situation, and on the basis of reply offered by the candidate, final decision about his/her selection is taken. The result is announced soon after the conclusion of the conference and all those who are selected are required to stay back for the medical examination, which takes another three to four days.

Medical Examination
The selected candidates are then required to undergo medical examination. Prior to the medical examination, a form is given to the candidates to be filled which mainly relates to the past medical history of the candidate as well as his/her members of the family. The candidates who pass all the medical tests are finally declared as successful and may expect a call to join the training academy concerned within a month or two of the selection. However, the call letters are issued after clubbing the marks obtained in the written examination of the UPSC as well as marks obtained in the interview. At times it may so happen that even a candidate getting through in the interview finally, may not get a call to join at the concerned training academy if the number of vacancies is less or the candidate is very low in the order of merit. Hence, the candidates are advised not to leave their studies or jobs till they receive a call to join at the training academy concerned.

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History: Maghad and Beyond Quick Revision Notes

IAS Prelims History of India

The following revision notes of Indian history, of Maghad era and beyond, are helpful while preparing for General Awareness preparation of IAS Prelims History of India and for other competitive exams held in India

Magadh kingdom’s most remarkable king was Srenika or Bimbisara, who was anointed king by his father at the young age of 15.

The capital of Bimbi­sara’s kingdom was Giriv­raja. It was girded with stone walls which are among the oldest extant stone struc­tures in India.

The most notable achievement of Bimbisara was the annexation of neigh­bouring kingdom of Anga or East Bihar. He also entered into matrimonial alliances with ruling families of Kosala and Vaishali. The Vaishali marriage paved the way for expansion of Maga­dha north-ward to the bor­ders of Nepal.

Gautama Buddha and Vardhaman Mahavira prea­ched their doctrines during the reign of Bimbisara.

The modern town of Rajgir in the Patna district was built by Bimbisara. He had named it Rajagriha or the king’s house.

Bimbisara was suc­ceeded by his son Ajatsha­tru. Tradition affirms that Bim­bisara was murdered by Ajat­shatru.

To repel the attacks of the Vrijis of Vaishali, Ajat­shatru fortified the village of Pataligrama, which stood at the confluence of Ganga and Sona rivers. This fortress, within a generation, devel­oped into the stately city of Pataliputra (modern day Patna).

According to the Puranas, the immediate suc­cessor of Ajatshatru was Darsaka, after whom came his son Udayi.

The name of Darsaka also occurs in a play named Svapna-Vasavadatta, attri­buted to Bhasa, which repre­sents him as a brother-in-law and contemporary of Uday­ana, king of Kausambi. However, Jain and Buddhist writers assert that Udayi was son of Ajatshatru.

Bimbisara’s dynastic lineage ended with the Nan­da dynasty taking over the reigns of Magadha. The first king of Nanda dynasty was Mahapadma or Mahapamapati Nanda. He was succeeded by his eight sons, of whom the last was named Dhana-Nanda.

Dhana-Nanda was overthrown by Chan­dragupta Maurya, the founder of a new and more illustrious dynasty.

Among the State functionaries, the Purohit was of special importance in Kasi-Kosala, as we learn from Ramayan and several Jatakas. In Kuru-Panchal and Matsya countries it was the Senapati who held the spe­cial place.

The armies of the period usually consisted of infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants. While rulers of delta regions were known to maintain small naval fleets, a big naval department came into being only during the reign of Chan­dragupta Maurya.

The Indian infantry usually carried long bows and iron-tipped arrows made of cane. They used to wear cotton garments. The chariots of the cavalry were drawn by horses or wild asses and carried six soldiers apiece—two bowmen, two shield bearers and two charioteers.

Greek writers bear testimony to the fact that in the art of war Indians were far superior to other peoples of Asia. Their failure against foreign invaders was often due to inferiority in cavalry. Indian commanders pinned their faith more in elephants than horses.

The oldest source of revenues was the bali. Bha­ga, the king’s share of reaped corn, became the most important source of State revenue in course of time. Among the most important revenue officials was the Grama-bhojaka or village head-man.

The early Buddhist texts refer to six big cities that flourished during the days of the Buddha. These were: Champa (near Bha­galpur), Rajagriha (in Patna district), Sravasti (Saheth-Maheth), Saketa (Oudh), Kausambi (near Allahabad) and Benaras (Varanasi).

The usual recrea­tions of women during the Magadhan era were singing, dancing and music. Little princesses used to play with dolls called panchalikas.

The chief pastimes of knights were gambling, hunting, listening to tales of war and tournaments in amphitheaters. Buddhist texts refer to acrobatic feats, combats of animals and a kind of primitive chess play.

The principal sea­ports of the period were: Bhrigukachcha (Broach), Surparaka (Sopara, north of Mumbai), and Tamralipti (Tamluk in West Bengal).

The chief articles of trade during the Magadhan era were: silk, muslin, embroidery, ivory, jewellery and gold. The standard unit of value was the copper Karshapana, weighing a lit­tle more than 146 grains. Sil­ver coins, called Purana or Dharana, were also in circu­lation. The weight of a silver coin was a little more than 58 grains, which is one-tenth of that of the Nishka known to the Vedic texts.

The first undoubted historical reference to image-worship by an Aryan tribe occurs in passage of Curtis, who states that an image of Herakles was car­ried in front of Paurava army as it advanced against Alexander.

The early Magad­han period saw develop­ment of variant languages from Sanskrit. In the towns and the villages a popular form of Sanskrit, Prakrit, was spoken. This had local variations; the chief west­ern variety was called Shauraseni and the eastern variety Magadhi. Pali was another local language. The Buddha, wishing to reach wider audience, taught in Magadhi.

Persian and Macedonian Invasions
Cyrus, the founder of the Achaemenian empire of Persia, destroyed the famous city of Kapisa near the junction of the Ghorband and Panjshir rivers north­east of Kabul.

The successor of Cyrus, Darius sent a naval expedition to the Indus under the command of Sky-lax. This expedition paved the way for the annexation of the Indus valley as far as the deserts of Rajputana. The area became the most populous satrapy of the Persian empire and paid a tribute pro­portionately larger than all the rest—360 Eubic talents of gold dust, equivalent to more than a million sterling.

Once the Persian hold over Indian possessions became weak, the old territo­ry of Gandhara was divided into two parts. To the west of Indus river lay the kingdom of Pushkalavati in the mod­ern district of Peshawar; to the east was Takshasila in present district of Rawalpin­di. Tradition affirms that Mahabharata was first recited in Takshasila.

In 331 B.C., Alexan­der inflicted heavy blows on the king of Persia and occupied his realm. In 327 B.C. Alexander crossed the Hindukush and resolved to recover the Indian sat­rapies that had once been under his Persian prede­cessors.

To secure his com­munications, Alexander gar­risoned a number of strong­holds near modern Kabul and passed the winter of 327-326 B.C. in warfare with fierce tribes of Kunar and Swat valleys.

Alexander finally crossed Indus river in 326 B.C. using a bridge of boats. Ambhi, the king of Taxila gave him valuable help in this. Alexander’s march faced a major hurdle when it reached the banks of Hydaspes (modern Jhelum) river, near the town of Jhelum. Here he faced stiff resistance from Paurava king (Porus).

After crossing the Akesines (Chenab) and the Hydraotes (Ravi), Alexander stormed Sangala, the strong­hold of the Kathaioi, and moved on to the Hyphasis (Beas). He wished to press forward to the Ganga valley, but his war-worn troops refused. Alexander erected 12 towering altars to mark the utmost limit of his march, and then retraced his steps to Jhelum.

During the return journey, Alexander received a dangerous wound while storming a citadel of the powerful tribe of the Malawas. He returned to Babylon after a long and treacherous journey and died soon after in 323 B.C.

The Persian con­quest unveiled India for the first time to the Western world and established con­tact between the people of both regions.

The introduction of new scripts—Aramaic, Kharoshti and the alphabet style Yavanani by Panini— can be traced to Greek source.

The Macedonian garrisons were swept away by Chandragupta Maurya. However, these were not wiped out completely. Colonies like Yavana contin­ued to serve the king of Magadha just as they served the Macedonians, and carved out an independent kingdom only after the sun set of Magadha.

One positive out­come of Alexander’s inva­sion was that Greeks of later ages got to learn lessons in philosophy and religion from Indian Buddhists and Bhagavatas and Indians learned use of coins, hon­oured Greek astronomers and learned to appreciate Hellenistic art.

One of the most remarkable things in the foreign policy of Alexander was his encour­agement of inter-racial marriages. He was the first ruler known to history who contemplated the brother­hood of man and the unity of mankind. The White Kafirs of Kafiristan, classed in Ashoka’s edicts as definitely Greeks, are said to be descended from Alexander’s men. Of the ruling Frontier families, eight claim direct lineage from the son born to Alexander by Cleophis queen of the Assakenoi.

Other Revision Notes

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History: Pre-historic times Quick Revision Notes

The following Revision Notes will help in preparation for General Awareness paper of competitive exams held in India

Ancient geographers referred to Himalayas, as also their less elevated off­shoot—the Patkai, Lushai and Chittagong hills in the east and the Sulaiman and Kirthar ranges in the west— as Himavat.

Jambu-dvipa was considered to be the inner­most of seven concentric island-continents into which the earth, as per Hindu cos­mographers, was supposed to have been divided. The Indian sub-continent is said to part of Jambu-dvipa.

Sapta sindhavah is the name of the country of the Aryans in the Vedas.

In the ancient litera­ture, there are references of India being divided into five divisions. In the centre of the Indo-Gangetic plains was the Madhya-desh, stretching from river Saraswati, which flowed past Thanesar and Pehowa (present-day Haryana) to Allahabad and Varanasi. The western part of this area was known as Brahamrishi-desh, and the entire region was roughly equivalent to Aryavrata as described in the grammar of Patanjali. To the north of Madhya-desh lay Uttarap­atha and to its west Aparan­ta (Western India), to its south Dakshinapath or Dec­can and to its east Purva­desh. The term Dakshinapath was in some ancient works restricted to the upper Dec­can, north of river Krishna and far south was termed as Tamilakam or the Tamil country.

The Negritos were the first human inhabitants of India. Originally, they came from Africa through Arabia, Iran and Baluchistan. They have practically disappeared from the soil of India, except in Andaman Islands.

The Munda languages belong to the Austro-Asiatic family and are to be found at present in the eastern half of Central India, southern bor­der of the Himalayas and Kashmir and the territory east of Nepal.

Prakit was the single language of Indian sub-con­tinent in third century B.C. Sanskrit came into being a few centuries later.

The term Paleolithic is derived from two Greek words meaning Old Stone. This name is applied to the earliest people as the only evidence of their existence is furnished by a number of rude stone implements.

Paleolithic men in India are also known as Quartzite men from the fact that majority of chipped stones found in different parts of India are made of hard rock called quartzite.

Paleolithic paintings have been found in caverns at Singanpur near Raigarh in Madhya Pradesh, as also in Kaimur ranges and some places in Mirzapur district.

With the advent of age of metals, in Northern India, copper replaced stone as ordinary material for tools and weapons. And, it took several centuries for iron to replace copper. In Southern India, however, the Iron Age immediately succeeded the Stone Age.

The Indus civiliza­tion existed in the same peri­od as those of Egypt, Assyria and Babylonia.

Mohenjodaro was discovered by R.D. Banerjee in 1922 and Harappa by R.B. Dayaram Sahni. Later on, the work was taken over by Sir John Marshall, Director-General of Archeology.

The fertile surround­ing region of Mohenjodaro is called Nakhlistan or the Garden of Sind.

It is presumed that Iron was not known to the Indus Valley civilisation as not a single scrap of iron has been found in the excava­tions at various sites.

Developed city-life, use of potter’s wheel, kiln-burnt bricks, and vessels made of copper and bronze are some common and dis­tinctive features of all the civilizations of the pre-his­toric period.

The use of mud mor­tar was common during Indus Valley civilisation. Gypsum and mud were used for plaster. In case of drains, gypsum and lime mortar was used.

The most important feature of houses of Mohen­jodaro is the presence in them of one or more bath­rooms, the floors of which were fully laid and connect­ed by means of drainage channels with the main street.

More than 500 seals have been discovered at var­ious places inhabited by peo­ple of Indus Valley civiliza­tions. These were made of terra-cota.

The seals and paint­ed pottery of the Indus Val­ley show the figures of Pipal and Acacia trees. They were regarded as celestial plants and were supposed to be inhabited by divine spirits.

The people of Indus Valley also practiced the worship of Lings and Yoni symbols. The likelihood that both Shiva and Ling worship have been inherited by Hindus from the Indus Valley is rein­forced by the prevalence of the bull (the vehicle of Shiva) or bull-like animals amongst the seal-symbols.

The pottery of Indus Valley was generally wheel-made and was painted red and black.

The Dravadians are thought to have come to India from eastern Mediter­ranean. At one time the Dravadian culture was spread throughout India.

Puja ceremonies along with flowers, leaves, fruits and water were per­formed by Dravadians.

Aryans were accustomed to Homa rites or sacrificial fire. In fact, the word puja has been derived from a Drava­dian root called Puru, which means “to smear”.

The Dravadian lan­guage is still spoken by the Brahui people of Baluchis­tan.

As per the theory propagated by late Bal Gangadhar Tilak the original home of Aryans was the Arc­tic region. However, the most widely accepted view is that the Aryans originated from Central Asia. The view which is accepted in West is that original home of Aryans was in South-East Europe.

In the early vedic period river Ravi was known as Parushni, river Jhelum as Vitasta, Chenab as Asikni, Beas as Vipas and Sutlej as Sutudri.

The word Veda comes from the root vid, to know. It means knowledge in general. It is specially applied to branch of litera­ture which has been handed down by verbal transmis­sion and is declared to be sacred knowledge or Sruti.

Hindus consider the Vedas to be revealed books and give them the titles of Apaurusheya (not made by man) and nitya (Eternal).

According to Kau­tilya, “The three Vedas, Sama, Rig and Yajus consti­tute the triple Vedas. These together with Atharvaveda and the Itihasa Veda are known as the Vedas.” The ordinary definition of the Veda does not include Itihasa.

The Veda consists of four different classes of liter­ary compositions: (a) the Mantra constitutes the old­est division of Vedic litera­ture and is distributed in four Samhitas or collections known as the Rik, Sama, Yajus and the Atharva; (b) Brahmanas are the second class of Vedic works. They are mainly prose texts con­taining observations on sac­rifice; (c) Aranyakas or forest texts are books of instruction to be given in the forest or writings meant for wood-dwelling hermits; (d) Lastly there are the Upnishads which are either imbedded in the Aranyakas or form their supplements. The above named literary works are classed as Sruti, or reve­lation, and constitute the Vedic literature proper.

The Brahamanas are the first specimens of praise in the world. They mark the transition from the Vedic to later Brahmanical social order.

The Vedangas are class of compositions that are regarded less authorita­tive than Sruti and are styled Smriti. The Vedangas are six in number: Siksha (phonet­ics), Kalpa (ritual), Vyakaran (grammar), Nirukt (etymolo­gy), Chhand (metrics) and Jyotish (astronomy).

In Vyakarana, Nirukt and Chhand we have the great work of Panini, Yask and Pingal.

The Nyaya Darsana was written by Gautam. According to it, Tarka or log­ic is the basis of all studies. Knowledge can be acquired by four methods: Pratyaksha or intuition, Anumana or inference, Upma or compari­son and sadba or verbal testi­mony.

The basis of the political and social organisa­tion of the Rig Vedic people was patriarchal family. The successive higher units were styled gram, vis and jan.

The Purus and the Tritsus were two of the most famous Rig-Vedic clans. The names of their prominent rulers are recorded in Rik-Samhita.

In the Rig-Vedic period the foot soldiers were called Patti and warriors who fought from chariots were called Rathins.

The foundation of the political and social struc­ture in the Rig-Vedic age was the family.

Visvavara, Ghosha and Apala were some lead­ing women seers of Rig-Vedic times.

Agriculture was the principal occupation of the villagers in Rig-Vedic times.

The standard unit of value in Vedic period was a cow, but necklets of gold (nishka) also served as a means of exchange.

Rik Samgita is a col­lection of lyrics from early vedic age which consists of hymns in praise of different gods. These are grouped into books termed as ashtakas or mandalas.

Rig Vedic people did not possess the art of writing and early literature of Aryans was known to be transmitted orally.

The early Vedic reli­gion has been designated by the name of henotheism or kathenotheism (a belief in single gods, each standing out as the highest). Father Dyaus, the shinning god of heaven, and mother Prithvi, the earth goddess, are among the old­est of the vedic deities.

The worship of Varuna, the encompassing sky, in the early Vedic age is one of the first roots of the later doctrine of Bhakti.

An important char­acteristic of Vedic mythology is the pre-dominance of the male element. Thus, Vedic civilisation presents a con­trast to the prehistoric cul­ture of Indus Valley, where the mother goddess is co­equal with her male partner.

Sacrifices occupied a prominent place in Vedic rit­uals. These included offer­ings of milk, grain, ghee and juice of the Soma plant.

Before the close of the later Vedic period, the Aryans had thoroughly sub­dued the fertile plains of Yamuna, upper Ganga and the Gandak. The centre of the Aryan world was the areas stretching from Saraswati to the Gangetic plains and occupied by Kurus, the Pan­chals and some adjoining tribes. It was from this region that Brahmanical civilisation spread to the out­er provinces, to the land of the Kosalas and the Kasis drained by the Sarayu and the Varnavati, to the swamps of east of Gandak colonised by the Videhas, and to the valley of Wardha occupied by the Vidarbhas.

The Aryan culture was taken to South India by Agastya.

Most important tribe of Rigvedic period was the Bharatas, after whom India has been named in the Con­stitution. The two most important rulers of Bharatas were Divodas and Sudas. Sudas is famous for his victo­ry in the Battle of Ten Kings.

The most distin­guished among the tribes of later Vedic period were the Kurus and Panchals, with their capitals at Asandivat and Kampila, respectively.

Balhika-Pratipiya, Parikshit and Janamejaya were powerful Kuru kings who figure prominently in early epic legends.

The reign of Pan­chals was home to several theologians and philoso­phers like king Pravahana-Jaivali and sages like Aruni and Svetaketu.

The fame of the land of the Panchals as centre of Brahmanical learning was eclipsed by the Videhas, whose king Janak won the title of Samrat. The Videhan monarchy fell shortly before the rise of Buddhism. Its overthrow was followed by the rise of the Vajjian Con­federacy.

The kings of several regions gave themselves var­ious titles. While the kings of middle country were called raja, the eastern kings were titled Samrat, the southern Bhoj, those in the west Svarat, and the rulers of the northern realms were called Virat.

The taxes collected from people in the later Vedic age were referred to as bali and sulka.

During late Vedic period, Vratyas and the Nishads were two important bodies of men outside the regular castes. The Vratyas were Aryans outside the pale of Brahminism. They appear to have had some special connection with the people of Magadha and the cult of Shiv. The Nishads were non-Aryan people who lived in their own villages and had their own rulers. They were probably identi­cal with modern Bhils.

Shortly before the rise of Buddhism there were sixteen great nations that occupied the territory from Kabul valley to the banks of Godavari. These were: Anga (East Bihar), Magadha (South Bihar), Kasi (Benaras), Kosala (Oudh), Vriji (North Bihar), Malla (Gorakhpur district), Chedi (between Yamuna and Nar­mada), Vatsa (Allahabad region), Kuru (Thanesar, Delhi and Meerut districts), Panchal (Bareilly, Buduan and Farrukhabad districts), Matsya (Jaipur), Surasena (Mathura), Asmak (on the Godavari), Avanti (in Mal­wa), Gandhara (Peshawar and Rawalpindi districts) and Kamboj (South-west Kashmir and parts of Kafiristan).

The Vriji people were regarded by the Bra­haman law-givers as Vratyas or degraded Ksha­triyas. The Vrijis had no monarch, but a popular assembly of elders who car­ried on the business of the State. This type of polity was known as Gana or republic. The Mallas also had a simi­lar constitution.

The four kingdoms of later Vedic age who grew most powerful were: Avanti, Vatsa, Kosala and Magadha.

The kingdom of Avanti had its capital at Ujjain in modern Malwa.

One prominent ruler of Vatsa territory was Udayana, a scion of the Bharat race.

Kosala had its capi­tal at Ayodhya and was ruled by a dynasty that claimed descent from illus­trious Ishvaku, famed in Vedic and epic traditions.

The Kosalas extend­ed their boundaries in sever­al directions, including Nepalese Tarai, but their ambitious designs were frus­trated by Magadha power.

Gargi and Maitreyi were two prominent intellec­tual women of late Vedic period.

Magadha and Anga were two kingdoms which the Aryans could not Brah­manise thoroughly and came to possess a mixed population. Kikatas were prominent non-Aryans who lived in Magadha. They were known for their wealth. There was a dislike for Mag­adha in the Rigveda and the same dislike was continued even during the period of later Vedic civilisation.

In the sixth and fifth century B.C. the throne of Magadha was occupied by a line of kings styled Saisuna­gas in the Purans, an appella­tion derived from Sisunaga, the first king of the line in the Puranic list.

The Buddhist writ­ers, however, put Sisunaga much lower in the list of Magadha kings and split the line into two distinct groups. To the earlier of the two groups they give the name Haryanka, whose most remarkable king was Sreni­ka or Bimbisara.

The Ashtadhyayi of Panini is a book on Sanskrit grammar.

Khari, Patra, Vista, Satamana, Adhaka, Achita, Purusha and Dishta were different kinds of weights and measures used in later Vedic age.

Taxila or Tak­shashila was a great centre of learning in late Vedic peri­od. It was famous for the teaching of medicine, law and military science.

India and Persia have very ancient relations. There are many common gods in the Rig Veda and the Zinda Avesta. The Iranian gods Mithra, Yima and Vere­traghna have their counter­part in the Indian Mitra, Yama and Indra Vritrahan.

The Boghaz-Koi inscriptions of about 1400 B.C. refer to certain contracts made between the King of the Hittites (in Persia) and the King of Mitani. In those inscriptions same gods are mentioned as the protectors of these contracts.

The continuance of strong influence of Persia upon India in the Vedic age is indicated by prevalence of the Kharoshti script, a vari­ety of Aramaic, in the provinces near the Frontier, by the long continued use of the Persian title Satrap, by the form of the Ashoka inscriptions and by the architecture.

Sanskrit is a branch of a linguistic tree known as Indo-European. The trunk of the tree was a common tongue probably spoken in the region north-west of the Black Sea about 2500 B.C.

The Upanishads probe into the nature of universe and the human soul, and the relation of each to the other. They make no absolute state­ments of right and wrong, of creation, the gods or man; instead, they specu­late, seeking always to find truth, as opposed to stating it, and offering a wide range of possibilities.

A rudimentary administrative system was prevalent during the Vedic period. The tribal kingdom (rashtra) contained tribes (jana), tribal units (vish) and villages (grama). The nucle­us was the family (kula), with the eldest male member as its head (kulapa).

Other Revision Notes