World Heritage Day: How Delhi’s Hindu heritage was eclipsed by foreign invasions

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By Shilpika Srivastava

From becoming the capital city of almost every single dynasty and empire that blossomed in India, Delhi has lineage, history, class and then some more. The seeds of Delhi spread not in the misty myth, but very firmly in the ground – put there by the Hindu pedigree, as the historical texts suggest.

Around 1400 B.C., there existed a powerful and magnificent city of Indraprastha – the city of PandavasMahabharata suggests that the Demon Maya, who was said to be the best architect of his time, built the fabled city of Indraprastha after Dhritarashtra partitioned the Kingdom of Hastinapur into two in order to cut down the enmity between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.

In fact, there are historical evidences that suggest that the area has been settled for around 2500 years. Last year, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) started its excavation at Purana Qila in hope to unearth Painted Grey Wares (PGW), which could have proved the existence of the Mahabharata period. Also, an excavation conducted inside the fort grounds in the early 1970s unveiled Black Polished Ware and PGW that dated back to 300 B.C. The excavation gave boost to ASI and its historians’ belief that the fort’s site was, indeed, a part of the mythological Indraprastha.

Upinder Singh’s book, Ancient Delhi, also makes a reference of a place called ‘Dillika’. Also, the heroic poem, Prithviraj Raso, penned by Chand Bardai, links ‘Dhilli’ with a Rajput king and Mehrauli’s iron pillar.

Pasanaha Chariu of Vibudh Shridhar, an Apabhramsha writer, provides the first reference to the legend of the origin of the name ‘Dhilli’ for Delhi. He says:

हरियाणए देसे असंखगाम, गामियण जणि अणवरथ काम|
परचक्क विहट्टणु सिरिसंघट्टणु, जो सुरव इणा परिगणियं|
रिउ रुहिरावट्टणु बिउलु पवट्टणु, ढिल्ली नामेण जि भणियं|

It literally means: There are countless villages in Haryana. The villagers there work hard. They don’t accept domination of others, and are experts in making the blood of their enemies flow. Indra himself praises this country. The capital of this country is Delhi.

Countless invaders who were attracted to the riches and wealth of India, found their calling in Delhi. Being located on the banks of River Yamuna, the erstwhile city of Indraprastha soon became the Pole Star that every marauder wanted to win over.

Delhi has witnessed the rise and fall of almost eleven cities. Therefore, every dynasty that ruled the area left its distinct streak over the city’s architecture. During the entire hotchpotch, from the decline of Indraprastha to the invasion of Muhammad of Ghor, the Hindu heritage that the city had beautifully preserved faded away gradually in the darkness of time.

The rule of Qutbuddin Aibak, the slave and successor of Mohammed Ghori, saw Sultanate being reinforced, and then began a chapter of cultural experimentation and efflorescence in language, food, and architectural techniques. There ran an anabolism of the cultural traditions of Central and West Asia, and these when synthesized with the indigenous architectural styles of India gave rise to a distinct building style called Indo-Islamic.

The earliest buildings during this time were created using materials from the Hindu and Jain temples. Quwwat-ul-Islam, Delhi’s first congregational mosque was built over the substratum of a Hindu temple, and beams, brackets and columns from 27 temples were utilized in its construction.

From 1526 to 1757, the Mughal Emperors accomplished huge power in India. The Empire sustained in a diluted form, for another hundred years, until 1858 and was slowly grasped by the British presence.

Conspicuously, the Indian architecture during the Mughal period was greatly prejudiced by Persian styles depicting a uniform pattern both in structure and character.

The emergence of Mughal Raj saw the evolution of the Hindustani language, which was the precursor to Hindi and Urdu, however, the Hindustani dance form was hugely affected by the Mughal patronage. It is also notable that the concoction of Persian words into the vocabulary proved to be a long lasting cultural change.

The Western frontier region changed its tune from an “Indian” or Hindu characteristics and progressed more towards an Islamic or Arab identity. This, on the other hand, led to the modern nations of Pakistan and Afghanistan that resonate more with the Arab culture than the Indian culture. Not necessarily bad, but certainly a hard hit for “Indian” heritage.

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Here’s Why China is Predictable and Not Inscrutable

India could’ve easily predicted the Chinese coming on 5 August 2019

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The Chinese actions are far away from being Inscrutable. Pixabay

As the tensions rise between India and China along the borders in Ladakh, Shekhar Gupta in his article for The Print invokes an American political satirist P.J. O’Rourke.

Talking about his works Shekhar points out that in his ‘A Brief History of Man’, P.J. O’Rourke writes a small sentence “Meanwhile, in China, there were the Chinese.”. This sentence is relevant to us today.

Shekhar Gupta believes that the sentence conveys us a sense of resignation about the “inscrutable” Chinese. This thought happens to be familiar thought in the West.

“But we don’t live in the West. We’ve lived next door to China for as long as first civilisations grew.”, writes Shekhar Gupta

Let’s look at the history of Indian interactions with China since independance. What is inscrutable about it? Talking about the military assault across two fronts in 1962, it may have been a surprise to our leaders back then, but that is only because they were delusional.

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Chinese actions in respect to India are predictable now. Pixabay

From Chinese ultimatum to India to “return their stolen yaks and sheep” in 1965, to their appearance along the Ladakh frontier this year, China happens to be completely predictable and far from inscrutable. Especially keeping in mind Chinese actions in respect to India.

The push at Nathu La (Sikkim) in 1967 was probably to check out the resolve from India. Which they saw at its weakest — having fought two recent wars (1962 and 1965), famines, ship-to-mouth existence, political instability and a diminished Indira Gandhi. . The Indian response was a lesson they quickly learnt. What did the Chinese do after that? They have kept the peace for 53 years. Will you call that response evidence of Chinese inscrutability? They probed us, got a rude push-back, and decided to wait and stir the pot in different ways, at different times, says Shekhar Gupta in his artcile for The Print.

The Chinese kept the hold of what they wanted in 1962. According to Shekhar the truth is, they had it in their possession almost fully, barring small, tactically important slivers in Ladakh. They asserted their ownership and let their larger claim, Arunachal Pradesh, fully in Indian control, go militarily uncontested.

The Chinese never gave up claim on it. In 1986-87, they again checked us out at Wangdung-Sumdorong Chu (Arunachal), when they saw Rajiv Gandhi take India’s defence budget to a 4 per cent-plus of GDP. And once more, the response was firm and the Chinese backed off. The lesson we learnt according to Shekhar Gupta is that the Chinese won’t open fire randomly for the sake of it, Or when they are absolutely sure of an easy victory so they could be seen like ‘teaching an upstart a lesson’ as they did in 1962. Predictable.

Each and every action and response of China fits a pattern- Deliver a message, add leverage, and return, according to Shekhar Gupta.

India, China and Pakistan shared this unusual ‘triangulation’ in which China was using Pakistan to keep India preoccupied, said Former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during his tenure.

His idea was to break this ‘triangulation’ by seeking peace with Pakistan. He thought, that a country as big and powerful as China, would see less of an incentive for peace with India than Pakistan.

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Former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s idea was to break this ‘triangulation’ by seeking peace with Pakistan. Wikimedia Commons

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Shekhar Gupta believes that today, that option is not so available, as hostility with Pakistan is central to the Modi-BJP politics. They’d rather make peace with China than Pakistan. That is why the lavish welcomes and frequent meetings with the Chinese leaders. The objective, still, is escaping that triangle.

Another instance of Vajpayee explaining the Chinese negotiating style. “Dekhiye, aap aur hum baithe hain aur vaarta kar rahe hain (see, you and I are sitting and negotiating),” he said. If two people require something and the first person asks to let go of something, the other will say no. Then the first person again asks for something little less, then again the other person might say no. But ultimately the second person will relent and let go of some. The Chinese would never do that.

Both these leaders underlined that the Chinese are consistent, and predictable. And that is why we should not be shoched or surprised by what they have unveiled across Ladakh. We should have anticipated it on 5 August last year when we made the big changes in Jammu & Kashmir. This Chinese move, like all others in 60 years, was fully predictable. Even the timing, says Shekhar Gupta in his article for The Print.

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COVID-19: Samsung Exclusive Stores get ‘Suraksha’ Certified

The initiative is aimed at the security and safety of customers and employees

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Samsung exclusive stores get 'Suraksha' certified in India. Pixabay

Samsung on Friday said all of its exclusive stores have been ‘Suraksha’ certified to ensure consumer safety at a time when social distancing is the new normal.

Suraksha Store is a public private initiative to ensure safe and secure environment for consumers and store employees.

The certification will ensure that consumers feel safe and confident when they visit stores to buy smartphones and other devices.

“The initiative will ensure that consumers and employees working at these Exclusive Stores feel confident about their well-being and safety,” Mohandeep Singh, Senior Vice President, Mobile Business, Samsung India said in a statement.

According to the company, to strictly adhere to government’s social distancing guidelines, the exclusive stores are encouraging consumers to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metre between themselves.

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A distance of 1.5 meters is to be maintained according to social distancing guidelines. (Representational Image). Pixabay

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Meanwhile, customers are encouraged to use digital contactless payments and swiping machines will be sanitized before being given to the customer to ensure the highest standard of hygiene is maintained across our Exclusive Stores.

Only a limited number of customers will be allowed within the store at any given point to avoid crowd formation, said Samsung India. (IANS)

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80% Cases of COVID-19 in India Exhibit Nil or Mild Symptoms: Health Minister

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan says that nearly 80% of COVID cases in India are asymptomatic

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Health MinisterHarsh Vardhan said that almost 80% COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic. Wikimedia Commons

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said almost 80 per cent of the COVID-19 cases in India are asymptomatic or at best with very mild symptoms, according to Covid-19 pandemic in India updates.

In an exclusive interview to IANS, the Health Minister said, “Even today, in almost 80 per cent of the cases of COVID-19, which are being reported in India, the patients tend to exhibit either nil or mild symptoms. These patients are mostly contacts of confirmed cases. Interestingly, had it not been for our contact tracing efforts, and if left to their own in isolation, these patients may not have even remembered or reported their infection.”

Harsh Vardhan, who has recently been elected the chief of WHO’s Executive Board, was answering a query on whether asymptomatic patients who are potential virus carriers and who can take the virus deeper into rural India are causing worry to the government.

He said, “I am aware about WHO’s mention of some laboratory-confirmed cases that are truly asymptomatic. It is equally true, that as on date, there has been no documented asymptomatic transmission.”

However, he added that recently, more symptoms like headache, muscle pain, pink eye, loss of smell, or loss of taste, intense chills, rigors and sore throat have been included in the list of COVID-19 symptoms by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States. “It will require more studies before these symptoms are finally included in our list in India,” he quipped.

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Recently, more symptoms like headache have been included in the list of COVID-19 symptoms. Pixabay

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He added that the new symptoms were very subjective and vague which might go unnoticed, might not be remembered by the patient and, thus, might even go unreported. “Moreover, if for a moment we talk of testing such asymptotic patients, identification of all these asymptomatic cases will require repeated testing of 1.3 billion population which is a resource expensive exercise for any country and is neither possible nor recommended,” the Health Minister said.

He emphasized on priority-based and targeted testing and said that it will be helpful in detecting more cases of COVID-19 and curbing the disease. “With our efforts at sustained and quality assured scaling up of the testing facilities, I am sure, we shall be better placed for maximum case detection,” he concluded. (IANS)