Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS | 30th September 2021

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1.  Gurjars, Rajputs stake claim to Mihir

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper I: History
Sub Theme:  Gurjars | Rajputs | UPSC

Gurjars, Rajputs stake claim to Mihir Bhoj

Gurjars and Rajputs staked their claim to the 9th century ruler of the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty.

While Gurjars claim the king belonged to their caste, the Rajputs say ‘Gurjara’ referred to a place, not a caste, and that Mihir Bhoj was a Rajput king. The issue surfaced days before CM Yogi Adityanath unveiled a 12-foot high statute of Mihir Bhoj in Dadri town of Gautam Buddh Nagar in a college named after the ruler on September 22. The plaque referred to the ruler as Gurjar Pratihar Samrat. It offended the Rajputs. Just before the event, the word Gurjar was removed. In his speech, Mr. Adityanath tried to placate both the communities.

TRIPARTITE STRUGGLE (750- 1000 CE):

  • In 647 CE, the fall of the Pushyabhuti Dynasty based at Kanyakubja (modern-day Kannauj city) under Harshavardhana (606-647 CE) led to chaos and political instability.  Many kingdoms rose and fell, and those which came to dominate were those of the Pratiharas, the Palas of eastern India and the Rashtrakutas of southern India.
  • The period from 750 – 1000 CE saw the rise of these three important empires: Gurjara-Pratihara (Western India), Palas (Eastern India) and Rashtrakutas (Deccan).
  • The conflict among these three powers (basically for control over Kannauj area of Ganga valley) is often describes as “tripartite struggle”.
    • Since the days of Harsha, Kanauj was considered the symbol of sovereignty of north India.
    • Control of Kanauj also implied control of the upper Gangetic valley and its rich resources in trade and agriculture . 
    • Kannauj was strategically and commercially very important. It was located on the Ganga trade route and was connected to the Silk route.
  • This tripartite struggle for Kannauj continued for almost two hundred years and its result finally ended in favour of the Gurjara-Pratihara ruler Nagabhata II who made Kannauj the capital of the Gurjara-Pratihara kingdom. This kingdom ruled for nearly three centuries.
  • Foreign traveller Al-Masudi had visited Pratihara empire. Al-Masudi “refers to the Rashtrakuta-Pratihara enmity that was the characteristic feature of the epoch”.

IMPORTANT RULERS:

Dynasty was founded by Harichandra, in and around jodhpur, south western Rajasthan.

Nagabhatta I (730-760) He was the first significant king of the dynasty and because of his achievements that included the defeat of the Arabs
Vatsaraja (780-800)
  • Made Kannauj as his capital.
  • Expansionist policy brought him into conflict with Dharmapala, the Pala king and Rashtrakuta king Dhruv, thus began “tripartite struggle” and continued for about another 350 years.
  • Vatsraja defeated the Pala ruler Dharmapala and Dantidurga, the Rashtrakuta king, for control of Kannauj.
Nagabhata II (805–833)
  • He conquered Kannauj and the Indo-Gangetic Plain as far as Bihar from the Palas.
  • He rebuilt the Shiva temple at Somnath in Gujarat.
Bhoja I/ Mihir Bhoja (836-885) Grandson of Nagabhata II, he ruled for nearly 50 years.

His empire extended from Multan to Bengal and from Kashmir to northern Maharashtra.

Mihir Bhoj had made Kannauj his capital.

He was a devotee of Vishnu, so in honor of Vishnu, he had assumed titles like Varaha and Prabhas.

The achievements of Mihir Bhoj have been described in his Gwalior Prashasti inscription.

ART & CULTURE

  • The nagara style of temple architecture received a big boost under their rule:
    • The architecture is known for their sculptures, carved panels and open pavilion style temples

 

  • The temple was built on a stone platform with steps leading up to it, with many regional variations.
  • The highlight was a shikhara (a mountain-like spire on top, curving in shape).
  • They used most common sandstones for idols that have various shades of red, caused by iron oxide (rust).
  • This style became very popular in northern India in the following centuries.
  • The greatest development of their style of temple building was at Khajuraho, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Under the two centuries of Gurjara-Pratihara rule till 1019 AD, the city of Kanauj became one of the greatest centres of art, culture and commerce in the Indian subcontinent.
  • Sanskrit Poet & Dramatist Rajashekhara was associated with Mahendrapala and Mahipala and left behind many works of note.

Administration

In terms of administration, much of the Gupta Empire’s (3rd century CE – 6th century CE) and Harshavardhana’s ideas and practices were retained.

  • The king was supreme and was aided by a variety of ministers and officials.
  • Many minor kings and dynasties ruled as vassals of the king and were expected to be loyal, pay a fixed tribute to the king, conclude matrimonial alliances with the royal family and supply troops when needed.
  • Some areas were administered directly by the centre and were divided into provinces – bhukti and districts – mandala or vishaya.
  • They were, respectively, governed by a governor – uparika,  and a district head – vishayapati, who were tasked with collecting land revenue and maintaining law and order with the help of the army units stationed in their areas.
  • The village, as in earlier times, remained the basic unit of administration which was carried out by the headman and other officials, all paid through land grants.

2.  Call of the mosque

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper I: ART AND CULTURE   |
Sub Theme:  Federalism | UPSC

CALL OF THE MOSQUE

Even though prayers are no longer held here, the Begumpur Masjid is the second largest mosque of Delhi and has been in the news lately due to its rapidly deteriorating condition.

In the 14th century, Delhi got its fourth city, grandly named Jahanpanah or the ‘Refuge of the World’.

It was built by Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq, who is notorious for his eccentric decisions including the shifting of his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad in the Deccan. This meant that the city was not destined to flourish, even though he returned to it soon after.

Except for a brief period of time under Sher Shah Sur and Humayun, Agra remained the capital till 1648. When it did shift back to Delhi under Shah Jahan, it was to the new city of Shahjahanabad.

It was left to his successor, Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq, to give Delhi its most abiding monument, Begumpur Masjid.

An ardent builder and antiquarian, Sultan Firuz Shah repaired many of the old monuments such as the Surajkund in modern-day Faridabad and the Qutub Minar.

He built baolis (stepwells), schools, hospitals, hospices, hunting lodges and the fifth city of Delhi, named Firozabad, while his minister Khan-i Jahan Jauna Khan built seven mosques spread out over a vast area. Out of these, the largest was in the heart of Jahanpanah.

It was built in 1387 in the village of Begumpur from which it gets its name. Its boldly projecting gateway, double-pillars, tapering turrets, multidomed roofs mark it as a Firuz Shah Tughlaq-era mosque.

The main prayer hall on the west has an imposing entrance gateway with a tall arched pylon in the central frontage and tapering turrets at each of its corners. Clearly inspired by Iranian design, it is the earliest example of a ‘four-iwan (vaulted rectangular hall)’ mosque in India and, in turn, it inspired later mosques such as those in Jaunpur built by the Sharqi sultans.

Since Sultan Firuz Shah had built a new city near the Yamuna and under the Lodi dynasty the capital was shifted to Agra, Jahanpanah was once again neglected.

3.  Army to get 25 Advanced light helicopters at Rs 3,850 Crore

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper I: ART AND CULTURE
Sub Theme:  Defence Acquisition Councils | UPSC

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), in its meeting held under the Chairmanship of Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh on June 04, 2021, has approved proposals concerning Capital Acquisitions of various equipment for modernisation and operational needs of the Armed Forces amounting to approx. Rs 6,000 crore.

In addition, the DAC also approved issue of RFP for construction of six Conventional Submarines under Project P 75 (I) under the Strategic Partnership (SP) Model. This project envisages indigenous construction of six conventional submarines equipped with the state-of-the-art Air Independent Propulsion system at an estimated cost of Rs 43,000 crore.

This is a landmark approval, being the first case processed under the Strategic Partnership model. This would be one of the largest ‘Make in India’ projects and will serve to facilitate faster and more significant absorption of technology and create a tiered industrial ecosystem for submarine construction in India. From a strategic perspective, this will help reduce current dependence on imports and gradually ensure greater self-reliance and dependability of supplies from indigenous sources.

With accord of this approval, the country will be enabled to achieve its 30-year Submarine construction programme envisioned by the Government to acquire national competence in submarine construction and for the Indian industry to independently design and construct submarines in India. The availability of new technologies and advanced manufacturing capabilities to the Industry will be an important step towards enhancing the nation’s quest for self-reliance in modern conventional submarine construction and sustainment activities whilst creating direct and indirect job opportunities in India.

This project under SP Model provides a unique long-term opportunity and planning certainty for the industry to invest and support submarine construction. It will also infuse the latest technology and weaponry for submarines in India through strategic tie up between Indian Industry and leading foreign OEMs.

There was a long pending need of the Indian Army for modernisation of its Air Defence guns. These had been earlier procured only from foreign sources. With the continued thrust of Ministry of Defence towards ‘ÁtmaNirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’, an enthusiastic response from about a dozen Indian companies was received. All of them have expressed their willingness and commitment to manufacture this complex gun system and associated equipment by ensuring technology assimilation in India. Accordingly, the DAC accorded approval of procurement of Air Defence Guns and Ammunition at an approx. cost of Rs 6,000 crore under the Buy & Make (Indian) category.

Further to better equip the Armed Forces to meet the operational challenges and facilitate faster induction of required arms and ammunition, the DAC extended the timelines for progressing urgent Capital Acquisitions under the delegated powers to the Armed Forces up to August 31, 2021.  This will enable the Armed Forces to complete their emergent and critical acquisitions.

4.  Cabinet approves ECGC listing, Rs 6000 crore for export cover

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper III :  Economy|
Sub Theme:  ECGC  | UPSC

Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India Limited

ECGC Ltd. (Formerly known as Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India Ltd.) wholly owned by Government of India, was set up in 1957 with the objective of promoting exports from he country by providing credit risk insurance and related services for exports. Over the years it has designed different export credit risk insurance products to suit the requirements of Indian exporters. ECGC is essentially an export promotion organization, seeking to improve the competitiveness of the Indian exports by providing them with credit insurance covers.

The Corporation has introduced various export credit insurance schemes to meet the requirements of commercial banks extending export credit. The insurance covers enable the banks to extend timely and adequate export credit facilities to the exporters. ECGC keeps its premium rates at the optimal level.

ECGC provides (i) a range of insurance covers to Indian exporters against the risk of non – realization of export proceeds due to commercial or political risks (ii) different types of credit insurance covers to banks and other financial institutions to enable them to extend credit facilities to exporters and (iii) Export Factoring facility for MSME sector which is a package of financial products consisting of working capital financing, credit risk protection, maintenance of sales ledger and collection of export receivables from the buyer located in overseas country.

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