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Gupta Empire/Gupta Administration


Gupta EmpireGupta Administration

Gupta Empire

• Both Satvahana and Kushan empires came to an end in the middle of the third century A D and on the ruins of the Kushan empire arose a new empire, which established its sway over a good part of the former dominions of both the Kushans and Satavahanas.
• Although the Gupta empire was not as large as the Maurya empire, it kept north India politically united for more than a century, from 335 to 455 A.D.
• The original kingdom of the Guptas comprised Uttar Pradesh and Bihar at the end of the third century A.D.
• Uttar Pradesh seems to have been a more important province for the Guptas than Bihar, because early Gupta coins and inscriptions have been mainly found in that state.
• The Guptas enjoyed certain material advantages. The centre of their operations lay in the fertile land of Madhyadesa covering Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. They could exploit the iron ores of central India and south Bihar.
• Further, they took advantage of their proximity to the areas in north India which carried on silk trade with the Eastern Roman empire, also known as the Byzantine empire.
• On account above mentioned favourable factors the Guptas set up their rule over Anuganga (the middle Gangetic basin), Prayag (modern Allahabad), Saketa (modern Ayodhya) and Magadha.
Sources
• There source materials to reconstruct the history of the Gupta period include literary, epigraphical and numismatic sources.
• The Puranas throw light on the royal genealogy of the Gupta kings.
• Contemporary literary works like the Devichandraguptam and the Mudhrakshasam written by Visakadatta provide information regarding the rise of the Guptas.
• The Chinese traveler Fahien, who visited India during the reign of Chandragupta II, has left a valuable account of the social, economic and religious conditions of the Gupta empire.
• Apart from these literary sources, there are inscriptions like the Meherauli Iron Pillar Inscription and the Allahabad Pillar inscription. Meherauli Iron Pillar Inscription refers to the achievements of Chandragupta II.
• The most important source for the reign of Samudragupta is the Allahabad Pillar inscription. It describes his personality and achievements. This inscription is engraved on an Asokan pillar. It is written in classical Sanskrit, using the Nagari script. It consists of 33 lines composed by Harisena. It describes the circumstances of Samudragupta’s accession, his military campaigns in north India and the Deccan, his relationship with other contemporary rulers, and his accomplishments as a poet and scholar.
• The coins issued by Gupta kings contain legends and figures. These coins provide interesting details about the titles and sacrifices performed by the Gupta monarchs.
GUPTA EMPIRE CHRONOLOGY
Chandragupta I (320 – 330 A.D.)
• The founder of the Gupta dynasty was Sri Gupta.
• The first important king of the Gupta dynasty was Chandragupta I.
• He married a Lichchhavi princess from Nepal, which strengthened his position.
• The Guptas were possibly vaisyas, and hence marriage in a kshatriya family gave them prestige. Chandragupta I can be regarded as a ruler of considerable importance because he started the Gupta era in A.D. 319-20, which marked the date of his accession.
• Later many inscriptions came to be dated in the Gupta era.
Samudragupta (330-380 A.D.)
• Samudragupta called the ‘Napoleon of India’ by Vincent Smith, was the greatest of the rulers of the Gupta dynasty.
• The Gupta kingdom was enlarged enormously by Chandragupta I’s son and successor Samudragupta.
• His court poet Harishena wrote a glowing account of the military exploits of his patron.
• The inscription is engraved at Allahabad on the same pillar as carries an inscription of the peace-loving Asoka.
• The Allahabad Pillar inscription contains a long list of states, kings and tribes which were conquered and brought under various degrees of subjugation.
• This list can be divided into four categories.
– The first one includes the 12 states of Dakshinapaths with the names of their kings, who were captured and then liberated and reinstated. They were Kosala, Pistapura, Kanchi, Vengi, Erandapalli, Devarashtra, Avamukta, Dusthalapura, Mahakantara, Kurala, Kothura and Palakka.
– The second one contains the names of the eight kings of Aryavarta who were exterminated.
– The third one consists of the rulers of forest states who were reduced to servitude and the chiefs of the five pratyantas or border states, and also nine tribal republics, that were forced to pay all kinds of taxes, obey his orders and come to perform obeisance. The five border states were Samtata (East Bengal), Davaka (Assam), Kamarupa (Assam), Nepal, and Kartipura (Kashmir). The nine tribal republics were the Malavas, Arjunayanas, Yaudheyas, Madrakas, Abhiras, Prarjunas, Sarakinakas, Kavas, and Kharaparikas.
– The fourth one includes the Daivaputra Shahanushahs (Kushanas), Saka Murundas and the dwellers of Sinhala and all other islands who offered their own person for service to Samudragupta.
• After these military victories, Samudragupta performed the asvamedha sacrifice.
• He issued gold and silver coins with the legend ‘restorer of the asvamedha’.
• It is because of his military achievements Samudragupta was hailed as ‘Indian Napoleon’.
Extent of Samudragupta’s Empire
• After these conquests, Samudragupta’s rule extended over the upper Gangetic valley, the greater part of modern U.P., a portion of central India and the south-western part of Bengal.
• Above mentioned territories were directly administered by him.
• In the south there were tributary states.
• The Saka and Kushana principalities on the west and north-west were within the sphere of his influence.
• The kingdoms on the east coast of the Deccan, as far as the Pallava Kingdom, acknowledged his suzerainty.
Estimate of Samudragupta
• Samudragupta’s military achievements remain remarkable in the annals of history and was equally great in his other personal accomplishments.
• The Allahabad Pillar inscription speaks of his magnanimity to his foes, his polished intellect, his poetic skill and his proficiency in music. It calls him Kaviraja because of his ability in composing verses.
• His image depicting him with Veena is found in the coins issued by him. It is the proof of his proficiency and interest in music.
• He was also a patron of many poets and scholars, one of whom was Harisena.
• Thus he must be credited with a share in the promotion of Sanskrit literature and learning, characteristic of his dynasty.
• He was an ardent follower of Vaishnavism but was tolerant of other creeds.
• He evinced keen interest in Buddhism and was the patron of the great Buddhist scholar Vasubandu.
• He granted permission to Buddhist king of Cylon, Meghavarman to build a monastry at Bodh Gaya; so, he was called ‘Anukampavav’.
Chandragupta II (380-415 A.D.)
• Samudragupta was succeeded by his son Chandragupta II Vikramaditya.
• But according to some scholars, the immediate successor of Samudragupta was Ramagupta, the elder brother of Chandragupta II, but there is little historical proof for this.
• The reign of Chandragupta II saw the high watermark of the Gupta empire.
• Chandragupta II inherited the military genius of his father and extended the Gupta Empire by a judicious combination of the policy of diplomacy and warfare.
• Through matrimonial alliances he strengthened his political power. He married Kuberanaga, a Naga princess of central India.
• He gave his daughter Prabhavati in marriage to the Vakataka prince Rudrasena II. The political importance of this marriage lies in the fact that the Vakatakas occupied a geographically strategic position in the Deccan.
• When the Vatakas prince died, then he was succeeded by his young son. So Prabhavati became the virtual ruler. As shown by some of her land charters, she managed the affairs of her kingdom with the help of an official sent by her father Chandragupta. Thus Chandragupta exercised indirect control over the Vakataka kingdom in central India. This afforded a great advantage to him.
• Passing through this area Chandragupta II conquered western Malwa and Gujarat, which had been under the rule of the Sakas for about four centuries by that time.
Conquest of Chandragupta II in Western India
• The greatest of the military achievements of Chandragupta II was his war against the Saka satraps of western India.
• Rudrasimha III, the last ruler of the Saka satrap was defeated, dethroned and killed. His territories in western Malwa and the Kathiawar Peninsula were annexed into the Gupta Empire.
• After victory over Rudrasimha III, Chandragupta II performed the horse sacrifice and assumed the title Sakari, meaning, ‘destroyer of Sakas’.
• He also took the title of Vikramaditya.
• As a result of the conquest of western India, the western boundary of the Empire reached to the Arabian Sea gaining access to Broach, Sopara, Cambay and other sea ports which enabled the Gupta empire to control trade with the western countries.
• Ujjain became an important commercial city and soon became the alternative capital of the Guptas.
• The fine cotton clothes of Bengal, Indigo from Bihar, silk from Banaras, the scents of the Himalayas and the sandal and species from the south were brought to the ports without any interference.
• The western traders poured Roman gold into India in return for Indian products.
• The great wealth of the Gupta Empire was manifest in the variety of gold coins issued by Chandragupta II.
Other Conquests
• Chandragupta II defeated a confederacy of enemy chiefs in Vanga.
• In the northwest Chandragupta II kingdom extended beyond the Hindukush up to Bactria. He crossed the river Sindh and conquered Bactria and the Kushanas ruling in this region were subdued by him.
• The Gupta empire extended in the west as far as western Malwa, Gujarat and Kathiawar.
• In the east, it included even eastern Bengal and in the south the Narmada river formed the boundary.
• The exploits of a king called Chandra are glorified in an iron pillar inscription fixed near Qutb Minar in Delhi. If Chandra is considered to be identical with Chandragupta II, it appears that he established Gupta authority in north-western India and in a good portion of Bengal.
• Chandragupta II adopted the title of Vikramaditya, which had been first used by an Ujjain ruler in 58 B.C. as a mark of victory over the Sakas.
• The court of Chandragupta II at Ujjain was adorned by numerous scholars including Kalidasa and Amarashnha.
Estimate of Chandragupta II
• The power and glory of Gupta empire reached its peak under the rule of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya.
• He also contributed to the general cultural progress of the age and patronized great literary figures like Kalidasa.
• He promoted artistic activity.
• Because of the high level of cultural progress that was achieved during this period, the Gupta period is generally referred to as a golden age.

Successors of Chandragupta II
• Kumaragupta was the son and successor of Chandragupta II and his reign was marked by general peace and prosperity.
• He issued a number of coins and his inscriptions are found all over the Gupta empire.
• He also performed an asvamedha sacrifice.
• Most importantly, he laid the foundation of the Nalanda University which emerged as an institution of international reputation.
• At the end of his reign, a powerful wealthy tribe called the ‘Pushyamitras’ defeated the Gupta army.
• A branch of the Huns from Central Asia made attempts to cross the Hindukush mountains and invade India.
• But it was his successor Skandagupta who really faced the Hun invasion. He fought successfully against the Huns and saved the empire. The war with Huns must have been a great strain on the government’s resources.
• After Skandagupta’s death, many of his successors like Purugupta, Narasimhagupta, Buddhagupta and Baladitya could not save the Gupta empire from the Huns.
• Ultimately, the Gupta power totally disappeared due to the Hun invasions and later by the rise of Yasodharman in Malwa.


Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative

Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative

Sugarcane is an important crop in India, being cultivated by 45 million farmers. About 50 million people depend on this crop, including the employment generated by around 570 sugar factories and other related industries. Sugar is used in many products and its use is growing. The sugarcane crop is also contributing to our ever-increasing thirst for energy, becoming a substitute for oil. It is a crop with a future. But, sugarcane cultivation in India is in crisis. During the last 10 years, sugarcane production has been fluctuating widely, between 233 and 355 million tonnes. At the same time, productivity at the farm level has been stagnant over the last two decades, at around 65–70 tonnes/ha. With low yields, high input costs, lack of labour availability, water scarcity, climate-induced uncertainties, pest and diseases, and so many other factors, the sugarcane farmers are indeed in a bad state. Those who are producing the raw material for sugar production are bitter. They are shifting to other crops.
The Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI) is a step in that direction of addressing the fundamental problems of sugarcane cultivation.
The Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI) aims at providing practical options to the farmers in improving the productivity of land, water and labour, all at the same time. SSI is also expected to reduce the overall pressure on water resources and contribute to recovery of ecosystems. Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative is an innovative method of sugarcane production using less seeds, less water and optimum utilization of fertilizers and land to achieve more yields.
The major principles that govern SSI
• Raising nursery in portrays using single budded chips
• Transplanting young seedlings (25-35 days old)
• Maintaining wider spacing (5×2 feet) in the main field
• Providing sufficient moisture through efficient water management technologies viz., drip fertigation (sub or sub surface)
• Encouraging organic method of nutrient and plant protection measures
• Practicing intercropping with effective utilization of land
SSI methods have received an overwhelming response from the farmers, industries and researchers. The important thing about SSI or any other farm based approaches are that it has to be modified to suite the local conditions while retaining the main principles.
The SRI in rice and SSI in sugarcane have proved the potential of addressing the water crisis while improving the productivity and profitability. India needs to invest in these methods to upscale to see the full positive impact of such approaches at the national level. It is also time for civil society, government agencies to work together to support the farmers in adopting these methods in a big way.
Overall benefits
• Improved water use efficiency
• Optimum use of fertilizers favour balanced availability of nutrients
• Better aeration and more penetration of sunlight favours higher sugar content
• Reduced cost of cultivation and increased returns  through intercropping

Climate Change Performance Index


Climate Change Performance Index

The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) is an annual publication by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe. It evaluates the climate protection performance of 58 countries, responsible for over 90% of global energy-related CO2 emissions.
The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) compares countries in the areas of emissions trends and levels, expansion and use of renewable energies, energy efficiency and climate policies.
The CCPI is a tool designed to enhance transparency in international climate politics.
Its aim is to encourage political and social pressure on those countries which have, up to now, failed to take ambitious actions on climate protection as well as to highlight  countries with best-practice climate policies.
On the basis of standardised criteria, the index evaluates and compares the climate protection performance of 58 countries that are, together, responsible for more than 90 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions. 80 percent of the evaluation is based on objective indicators of emissions trend and emissions level. 20 percent of the index results are built upon national and international climate policy assessments by about 300 experts from the respective countries.
Key highlights
The first three ranks in the list of 2017 CCPI rankings are left free because up to now no country is acting enough to prevent dangerous climate change.
France was placed at 4th place, thus leads list for the first time. It was followed by Sweden (5th) and UK (6th).
India was placed at the 20th rank among the 58 countries on the 2017 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI).
The index underlines that countries like India are making “great efforts” in the fields of renewable and energy efficiency.
The 2015 Paris Agreement has helped in encouraging the trends in switching towards the renewable energy, but the revolution in switching is very slow at the global level.

Plant Quarantine


Plant Quarantine

Plant quarantine is a technique for ensuring disease- and pest-free plants, whereby a plant is isolated while tests are performed to detect the presence of a problem.
Plant Quarantine regulatory measures are operative through the ‘Destructive Insects & Pests Act, 1914 (Act 2 of 1914) in the country.
The purpose and intent of this Act is to prevent the introduction of any insect, fungus or other pest, which is or may be destructive to crops.
The import of agricultural commodities is presently regulated through the Plant Quarantine (Regulation of Import into India) Order, 2003 the provisions of New Policy on Seed Development, 1988.
Further, the significance of Plant Quarantine has increased in view of Globalization and liberalization in International trade of plants and plant material in the wake of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS)
Agreement under WTO. The phytosanitary certification of agricultural commodities being exported is also undertaken as per International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), 1951.
Objectives
• Inspection of imported agricultural commodities for preventing the introduction of exotic pests and diseases inimical to Indian fauna and flora through implementation of DIP Act, 1914 and the Plant Quarantine (Regulation of Import into India) Order, 2003 issued there under.
• Inspection of plants and plant material meant for export as per the requirements under International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) 1951 of FAO to facilitate pest free trade.
• Detection of exotic pests and diseases for their containment by adopting domestic quarantine regulations, if introduced.
The ongoing activities assigned under the scheme include:
• To issue import permits with additional declarations and special conditions to facilitate   safe imports of agricultural products.
• To undertake quarantine inspection and laboratory testing of plants and plant material to ensure freedom from exotic pests.
• To undertake phytosanitary certification (for issuance of Phytosanitary Certificates (PSCs); 150 Nos. of Officers from Central/ State/ UT Governments have been authorized for this purpose.
• To undertake fumigation/disinfestations/disinfections of commodities to control infestation/infection.
• To undertake certification of post-entry quarantine facilities and inspection of imported growing plants and plant material; 41 Nos. of Inspection Authorities have been designated.
• To support Export market access for India’s Agriculture products from the phytosanitary point of view.
• To facilitate safe global trade in agriculture by assisting the producers and exporters by providing a technically competent and reliable phytosanitary certificate system to meet the requirements of trading partners.

International Conventions on Biodiversity Conservation


International Conventions on Biodiversity Conservation

International Conventions on Biodiversity Conservation

Conserving biodiversity is not an issue confined to any one country or community. It is a crucial global concern. Several international treaties and agreements are in place in the attempt to strengthen international participation and commitment towards conserving biodiversity. Some of these are:
1. The Convention on Biological Diversity:
This was signed during the Earth Summit in 1992. It focuses not only on conserving biodiversity but also on sustainable use of biological resources and equitable sharing of benefits arising from its use.
2. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES):
This is an international treaty which is designed to protect wild plants and animals affected by international trade. The treaty, in force since 1975, controls the export, import and re-export of endangered and threatened wildlife.
3. The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention):
This Convention, also known as the Ramsar Convention, was signed in Ramsar (Iran) in 1971 and came into force in December 1975. It provides a framework for international cooperation for the conservation of wetland habitats which have been designated to the ‘List of Wetlands of International Importance’.
4. Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
The CMS, or the Bonn Convention aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. Parties to the CMS work together to conserve migratory species and their habitats by providing strict protection for the most endangered migratory species, by concluding regional multilateral agreements for the conservation and management of specific species or categories of species, and by undertaking co-operative research and conservation activities.
5. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
The objectives of the Treaty are the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their use, in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, for sustainable agriculture and food security. The Treaty covers all plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, while its Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing covers a specific list of 64 crops and forages. The Treaty also includes provisions on Farmers’ Rights.
6. World Heritage Convention (WHC)
The primary mission of the WHC is to identify and conserve the world’s cultural and natural heritage, by drawing up a list of sites whose outstanding values should be preserved for all humanity and to ensure their protection through a closer co-operation among nations.
7. International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)
The IPPC aims to protect world plant resources, including cultivated and wild plants by preventing the introduction and spread of plant pests and promoting the appropriate measures for their control. The convention provides the mechanisms to develop the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs), and to help countries to implement the ISPMs and the other obligations under the IPPC, by facilitating the national capacity development, national reporting and dispute settlement. The Secretariat of the IPPC is hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
8. Basel Convention
It is designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries (LDCs).

Sai Praveen

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