This Day in History (20-Feb-1947) – Lord Mountbatten appointed as last viceroy of India

In October 1943, Lord Mountbatten became the supreme allied commander, South East Asia Command (SEAC), a position he held until 1946. He achieved the defeat of the Japanese offensive towards India and the reconquest of Burma. In September 1945, he received the Japanese surrender at Singapore. In 1947, Mountbatten was appointed as the Viceroy of India. He mainly administered the British withdrawal from India with minimal reputation damage and the transition from British India to independent states of India and Pakistan.

Mountbatten was fond of Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru and his liberal outlook for the country. Though Mountbatten emphasized on the united, independent India, he could not influence Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who demanded a separate Muslim state of Pakistan, despite being aware of the difficulties that would arise while meeting the demands.  Unable to sway away Jinnah from his modus operandi of a separate Muslim state, Mountbatten adapted himself to the changing situation and concluded that his vision for a united India was an unachievable dream. He then resigned himself to a plan for partition, creating the independent nations of India and Pakistan.

He worked towards setting a fixed date for the transfer of power from British India to the Indians. At the stroke of midnight on August 14-15, 1947, India and Pakistan attained independence. Mountbatten served as the country’s first Governor General for ten months until June 1948.

Mountbatten also developed a strong relationship with the Indian princes, who ruled those portions of India not directly under British rule. His intervention was decisive in persuading the vast majority of them to see advantages in opting to join the Indian Union. Thus the integration of the princely states can be viewed as one of the positive aspects of his legacy.

In 1953, Mountbatten returned to the Royal Navy, becoming commander of a new NATO Mediterranean command. Finally, he retired from the navy in 1965 as a Chief of the defence staff. In 1979, Mountbatten was murdered when IRA terrorists blew up his boat off the coast of County Sligo, Ireland.

 

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/february/20

http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/lord-mountbatten-15.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Mountbatten,_1st_Earl_Mountbatten_of_Burma

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/mountbatten_lord_louis.shtml

This Day in History (29-Jan-1967) – The “ultimate high” of the hippie era, the Mantra-Rock Dance, takes place in San Francisco

Hippie (or hippy) subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The word ‘hippie’ came from hipster, and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into New York City’s Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. The Beats adopted the term hip, and early hippies inherited the language and countercultural values of the Beat Generation; children of the road who believed they should make love, not war. Their vocal opposition to the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and the increasingly rocky road to shared civil rights among all Americans led to this new, alternative form of activism. Hippies created their own communities, listened to psychedelic music, embraced the sexual revolution, and used drugs such as cannabis,  marijuana, LSD, peyote and psilocybin mushrooms to explore altered states of consciousness.

Donning psychedelic floral clothing and growing beards, all became part of the evolving counter-culture. With this also came a new epoch of fashion, film and literature; one which would grow out of the San Francisco valley and spill into the daily lives of the masses at home and abroad within the span of a couple of years. Hippies often chose brightly colored clothing and wore unusual styles, such as bell-bottom pants, vests, tie-dyed garments, dashikis, peasant blouses, and long, full skirts; non-Western inspired clothing were also popular.

Hippies tended to travel light, and could pick up and go wherever the action was at any time. One travel experience, undertaken by hundreds of thousands of hippies between 1969 and 1971, was the Hippie trail overland route to India. Carrying little or no luggage, and with small amounts of cash, almost all followed the same route, hitch-hiking across Europe to the Indian frontier. Once in India, hippies went to many different destinations, but gathered in large numbers on the beaches of Goa and Kovalam in Trivandrum (Kerala), or crossed the border into Nepal to spend months in Kathmandu. By the mid-1970s, the hippie movement began to slow.

Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/January_29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippie

http://all-that-is-interesting.com/a-brief-history-of-hippies

This Day in History (27-Jan-1921) – The Imperial Bank of India (State Bank of India) came into existence

The evolution of State Bank of India can be traced back to the first decade of the 19th century. It began with the establishment of the Bank of Calcutta in Calcutta, in 1806. The bank was redesigned as the Bank of Bengal, three years later. It was the first ever joint-stock bank of the British India, established under the sponsorship of the Government of Bengal. Subsequently, the Bank of Bombay (established in 1840) and the Bank of Madras (established in 1843) followed the Bank of Bengal. These three banks dominated the modern banking scenario in India, until when they were amalgamated to form the Imperial Bank of India, on 27 January 1921, with combined role of a commercial bank and a central bank.

However, with the establishment of the Reserve Bank of India in 1935, the Imperial Bank ceased to have a central banking function. It now became a purely commercial bank and certain business restrictions on it were removed. An important turning point in the history of State Bank of India is the launch of the first Five Year Plan of independent India, in 1951. The Plan aimed at serving the Indian economy in general and the rural sector of the country, in particular. Until the Plan, the commercial banks of the country, including the Imperial Bank of India, confined their services to the urban sector. Moreover, they were not equipped to respond to the growing needs of the economic revival taking shape in the rural areas of the country. Therefore, in order to serve the economy as a whole and rural sector in particular, the All India Rural Credit Survey Committee recommended the formation of a state-partnered and state-sponsored bank. The committee proposed the take over of the Imperial Bank of India, and integrating with it, the former state-owned or state-associate banks.

Subsequently, an Act was passed in the Parliament of India in May 1955. As a result, the State Bank of India (SBI) was established on 1 July 1955.  Later on, the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act was passed in 1959. The Act enabled the State Bank of India to make the eight former State-associated banks as its subsidiaries, with the State Bank of Hyderabad becoming the first subsidiary of the SBI.

Reference:

http://www.mapsofindia.com/on-this-day/27-january-1921-the-imperial-bank-of-india-came-into-existence

http://www.iloveindia.com/finance/bank/nationalised-banks/state-bank-of-india.html

This Day in History (25-Jan-1565) – Battle at Talikota – the Deccan sultanate destroy Vijayanagar’s army and the last Hindu kingdom of Southern India

The Vijayanagar Empire was a South Indian dynasty based in the Deccan spanning across all present South Indian states. It was founded by Harihara I and his sibling Bukka Raya in 1336, the empire ruled untill 1646. The ruling dynasty declined in the 1565 after a key military defeat by the Deccan Sultanates. The empire is named after its capital city of Vijayanagar, the remarkable ruins of which surround modern World Heritage site Hampi is in modern Karnataka, India, till today. The Vijayanagara Empire`s support facilitated fine arts and literature in order to attain new-fangled pinnacles in the languages of Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit, while Carnatic Music advanced into its existing structure. The Empire shaped an era in South Indian history thereby surpassing regionalism with the promotion of Hinduism as a coalescing feature.

After the death of Krishna Deva Raya the fall of Vijayanagar Empire began. Two rulers Achyuta Raya and Sadasiva Raya were weak. At the time of Sadasiva Raya his minister Rama Raya captured all the royal authorities. He tried to capital the difference amongst Muslim sultans of Bijapur, Bidar, Ahmadnagar, and Golconda of South India and crush them. But they soon understood his plan and joined hands with each other. Then jointly they attacked Vijayanagar. Battle of Talikota, was a confrontation between the forces of the Hindu raja of Vijayanagar and the four Muslim sultans in the Indian Deccan. The armies numbered several hundred thousand, with large contingents of elephants. The battle seems to have been decided by the Muslim artillery and the capture and execution of the ruling minister Rama Raya. The capital city of Vijayanagar was captured, destroyed over a period of five months, and never reoccupied. The raja and Rama Raya’s brother Tirumala retired to Penukonda, where the latter usurped the throne in 1570. The battle was decisive in breaking up the Vijayanagar empire, a Telugu domination over the Tamil and Kannada south. It also began a final Muslim penetration lasting until the end of the 18th century.

 

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/january/25

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/581480/Battle-of-Talikota

http://www.indianmirror.com/dynasty/vijayanagaradynasty.html

 http://www.importantindia.com/11629/battle-of-talikota-1565/

This Day in History (23-Jan-1977) – Janata Party was formed

In 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of national emergency. Thousands of opposition political activists, as well as leaders were arrested. Calling elections in 1977 the government released political prisoners and weakened restrictions and censorship on the press. When opposition leaders sought the support of Jayaprakash Narayan for the forthcoming election, he insisted that all opposition parties form a united front.

The Janata party was officially launched on 23 January 1977 when the Janata Morcha, Charan Singh’s Bharatiya Lok Dal, Swatantra Party, the Socialist Party of India of Raj Narain and George Fernandes, and the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) joined together, dissolving their separate identities. Although the political ideologies of Janata Party constituents were diverse and conflicting, the party was able to unite under the over-reaching appeal of Jayaprakash Narayan, who had been seen as the ideological leader of the anti-Emergency movement and now the Janata party. Morarji Desai was elected the first party chairman. Ramakrishna Hegde became the party general secretary, and Jana Sangh politician Lal Krishna Advani became the party spokesperson.

As it became clear that Indira’s Emergency rule had been widely unpopular, defections from the Congress (R) government increased. A former Minister of Defence, Jagjivan Ram left the Congress (R) and formed the Congress for Democracy along with the former Chief Minister of Orissa Nandini Satpathy, former Union Minister of State for Finance K. R. Ganesh, former M.P. D. N. Tiwari and Bihar politician Raj Mangal Pandey. Congress for Democracy contested the election with the same manifesto as the Janata party and subsequently merged.

Janata party won a sweeping victory, securing 43.2% of the popular vote and 271 seats. With the support of the Akali Dal and the Congress for Democracy, it had amassed a two-thirds, or absolute majority of 345 seats. Raj Narain defeated Indira in Rae Bareilly constituency. The first non-Congress Government was formed with Moraraji Desai as a Prime Minister. However continuous in-fighting and ideological differences made the Janata government unable to effectively address national problem and was defragmented losing elections in 1980.

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janata_Party

This Day in History (19-Jan-1977) – World’s largest crowd–12.7 million–gather for Indian religious festival ‘Kumbh Mela’

Held every 4th years, the Kumbh Mela is one of the biggest events for the Indian Hindu community. The exact origin of the Kumbh Mela is very hard to pinpoint. The fair is a primitive one and the reason it is held can be traced back to the ancient episode of ‘Sagar Manthan’. Kumbh Mela derives its name from the immortal – Pot of Nectar – described in ancient Vedic scriptures known as the Puranas. Kumbha in Sanskrit language means ‘pot or pitcher’. Mela means ‘festival’. Thus Kumbh Mela literally means festival of the pot. It is not exactly known since when did people begin to hold Kumbh Mela; it is widely known how this spectacle of faith has attracted the curiosity of foreigners across the world. The famous Chinese traveler Hiuen-Tsang was probably the first person to mention Kumbh Mela in his diary.

In the 8th century, the great Indian saint Shankara popularized the Kumbh Mela among the common people. With each passing year the fair began to be attended by more and more people. By 1977, the number of pilgrims attending Kumbh Mela had grown to a record 12 million! By 1989, the attendance was approximately 29 million!! More than 60 million people is said to attend the Maha Kumbh Mela, making it the largest gathering anywhere in the world.

Maha Kumbh Mela occurrs every 144th years and is held in Allahabad (Prayag), last one being in 2013. Purna Kumbh Mela occurs every 12th years in Prayag, last one took place in 2001.  Ardh Kumbh Mela is held every 6th year at Haridwar and Prayag. Kumbh Mela occurs every 3rd years, rotating through Prayag, Nasik, Haridwar and Ujjain.  As per Hindu mythologies, this is the only time and place in the world where you can unburden your sins and achieve ‘Nirvana’ from the vicious cycle of birth and re birth.

After visiting the Kumbh Mela of 1895, Mark Twain wrote: “It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining.”

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://kumbhmela.co.in/kumbhmela.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumbh_Mela

This Day in History (18-Jan-1886) – Modern field hockey is born with the formation of The Hockey Association in England

A game called hockey was played in English public schools in the early 19th century.  A version of the game played in south-east London was rougher than the modern version, played on a very large field (247m by 64m), and used a cube of black rubber and rough sticks. The modern game was developed on the other side of London by Middlesex cricket clubs. In 1870, members of the Teddington cricket club, experimented with a ‘stick’ game, on the smooth outfield of their cricket pitch and used a cricket ball, so allowing smooth and predictable motion. By 1874 they had begun to draw up rules for their game, including banning the raising of the stick above shoulder height and stipulating that a shot at goal must take place within the circle in front of it. An association was formed in 1875, which dissolved after seven years, but in 1886 the Hockey Association was formed by seven London clubs and representatives from Trinity College, Cambridge.

In the late 19th century, largely due to the British Army, the game spread throughout the British Empire. The International Rules Board was founded in 1895, and hockey first appeared at the Olympic Games at 1908 Olympic Games in London, with only three teams: England, Ireland and Scotland. The first step towards an international structuring occurred in 1909, when England and Belgium agreed to recognize each other for international competitions. In 1924, the International Hockey Federation (FIH, Fédération Internationale de Hockey) was founded in Paris, under the initiative of the French man, Paul Léautey, as a response to hockey’s omission from the 1924 Paris Game.

Hockey became a permanent fixture at the Olympics at the 1928 Olympic Games, at Amsterdam, where India made its Olympic debut. Indian hockey team cruised home to its first Olympic gold, without conceding a single goal. The hallmark of this ruthless domination was the wizardry of Indian hockey legend – Dhyan Chand. From 1928 to 1956, the Indian hockey juggernaut won six straight Olympic gold medals, while winning 24 consecutive matches. During this time, India scored 178 goals conceding only 7 in the process. The record created by India is likely to stand strong through ages.
Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/january/18

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_field_hockey

http://www.iloveindia.com/sports/hockey/history.html