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Know more about Maharana Pratap Jayanti celebrated on June 7

On this day, let us remember the legend that was Maharana Pratap Singh

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Aerial view of Kumbhalgarh. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Pratap Singh ascended the throne in 1572. During this time, Akbar acted as the Mughal Ruler in Delhi.
  • In the Battle of Haldighati that took place in 1576, 20,000 Rajputs fought against a Mughal army of 80,000 headed by Raja Man Singh.
  • In the last ten years of his life, Rana fought many wars, retaking control of Mewar.

Born to Maharana Udai Singh II and Rani Jeevant Kanwar on 9 May 1540, Maharana Pratap was the eldest of twenty five sons. Heir to his father’s kingdom, he was destined to rule over Mewar as the 54th ruler in the line of Sisodiya Rajputs.

However, before his death in 1572, Maharana Udai Singh had named his son, Jagammal heir to the throne. Unsatisfied with this wish, the nobles of the deceased Maharana had named his elder son the heir once again.

Pratap Singh ascended the throne in 1572. During this time, Akbar acted as the Mughal Ruler in Delhi. In order to realise his dream of becoming the Jahanpanah of Hindustan, Akbar had taken various measures to seize control of the Rajput kingdoms.

He had sent six emissaries to Mewar to get Pratap Singh to sign a treaty. To his disappointment, Rana refused each time. He was not ready to let a foreigner seize control of his motherland.

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Rana’s constant refusal to sign the treaty angered the Mughal emperor. He declared war on Mewar. He alienated Mewar from all their traditional allies and encouraged the people of Chittor (the capital of Mewar) to rise against their king. Moreover, Rana’s brothers, Shakti Singh and Jagammal Singh had sided with Akbar.

In preparation for the inevitable war, Maharana brought about changes in his administration. He directed his army to head towards the Aravali ranges and leave no resources behind for the Mughal army.

In the Battle of Haldighati that took place in 1576, 20,000 Rajputs fought against a Mughal army of 80,000 headed by Raja Man Singh. To the astonishment of everyone, the result of the battle was indecisive. Even though Rana Pratap was surrounded by the Mughal soldiers, his army was undefeated. Also, in this infamous war, Rana’s beloved horse, Chetak had died protecting his owner.

After the war ended, the Mughal emperor made several attempts to take over Mewar. The attempts proved to be fruitless. However, the relentless attacks by the Mughals left the Rajput army weak. Rana, along with his family, was on the run. They travelled from jungle to jungle, in the mountains and valleys. Food was scarce and they often slept empty stomached.

A painting of Maharana Pratap Singh. Wikimedia Commons.
A painting of Maharana Pratap Singh. Wikimedia Commons.

There also came a time when the Rajput king had almost made truce with Akbar. When his children’s meal of bread made from grass was stolen by a dog, Rana was deeply hurt. He was filled with self doubt and grief. During this time, he had demanded a “mitigation of his hardship” from the Mughal emperor.

In response to this, Pruthviraj, a poet from Akbar’s court wrote to Rana. He boosted his morale and told him not to give up his fight. This filled the Rajput king with inspiration and motivation that was needed to continue with his fight.

During this time, Bhama Shah, a minister of Rana, could not see his king suffer any longer. He gave away all his wealth to his king, so that the army could be sustained. It was because of his contribution that an army of 25,000 sustained for over 12 years.

In the last ten years of his life, Rana fought many wars, retaking control of Mewar. However, he never gained control of Chittor again. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Amar Singh I. He instructed his son to never give up his fight to free their motherland from the clutches of foreigners.

Maharana Pratap Singh is still remembered for his bravery and courage. His valiant nature has been a source of inspiration for many. May his memory never die!

-By Devika Todi, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: devika_todi

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UN: Rise of Private Surveillance Industry Undermining Freedom of Expression

Governments may have a valid and critical need to use surveillance technology in to confront criminal activity

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An Apple employee demonstrates the facial recognition feature of the new iPhone X at the Apple Union Square store in San Francisco. VOA

A United Nations investigator says the rise of the private surveillance industry and the targeting of individuals by digital surveillance technology is undermining freedom of expression and putting the lives of many individuals at risk.  The U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, submitted his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Wednesday.

U.N. investigator David Kaye does not condemn all surveillance activities.  He recognizes that governments may have a valid and critical need to use surveillance technology in to confront criminal activity, such as terrorism.

He says governments should be able to acquire and use the technology to protect their citizens.

But he says he finds the transfer of private digital surveillance technology to governments that use it as a tool of repression very worrisome.

UN, Private Surveillance, Freedom
A United Nations investigator says the rise of the private surveillance industry and the targeting. Pixabay

‘We are witnessing a surveillance free for all, in which states and industry are essentially collaborating in the spread of technology that is causing immediate and regular harm to individuals worldwide, often across borders harming individuals and organizations that are essential to democratic life—journalists, defenders, opposition figures, lawyers, and others,” Kaye said.

In his report, Kaye cites numerous examples. In one case, Ethiopia’s government allegedly spied on an Ethiopian-born man in the U.S.  The technology infected his computer with malware marketed by a German and British company.  The program recorded his emails, Internet video calls and keystrokes.  The data was then sent back to servers in Ethiopia.

In another case, Kaye says credible reporting suggests the Chinese government used facial recognition technology and surveillance cameras to look for ethnic Uighurs based on their appearance.  The government reportedly keeps records of their comings and goings for search and review.  He says some of the technology was produced by private Chinese companies.

Kaye says the technologies are spreading globally without control.  He says the private surveillance industry operates in the shadows, developing and marketing the technologies in highly secretive settings.   He notes that trade is driven by a thirst for profits.

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He warns the failure of states to impose constraints on the export or other transfer of targeted surveillance technology allows the illegitimate, dangerous trade to flourish.

“There is wide recognition that digital surveillance, particularly when conducted in the absence of legal constraint and oversight under cover of secret laws and policies without disclosure of purchase or use, is a threat to freedom of expression,” said Kaye.

Kaye is calling for an immediate moratorium on the global sale, transfer and use of the tools of the private surveillance industry.  He says he is not calling for a permanent ban or an end to all surveillance.

But he says rigorous human rights safeguards must be put in place to assure digital surveillance tools are being used in legitimate ways before business in the technology is allowed to go ahead. (VOA)