1. Amar Jawan Jyoti now merged with War Memorial flame: govt.
Congress and some veterans oppose removal of tribute to 1971 Bangladesh war
The iconic Amar Jawan Jyoti, which was inaugurated after the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was removed on Friday, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the construction of a statue of Subhas Chandra Bose, restructuring the symbolism around the India Gate.
In the face of protests from the Congress and some veterans, the Centre said the Jyoti was “not extinguished” and only “merged” with the flame at the National War Memorial (NWM). Mr. Modi said that after Independence, new things were constructed only for a “few families” but now, monuments of national importance were being built.
At a ceremony presided over by Air Marshal B.R. Krishna, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, a torch with the flame at the Jyoti was carried with full military honours and merged with the NWM flame.
The NWM, inaugurated in February 2019, is located at the ‘C’ Hexagon near India Gate and was built in memory of the soldiers who laid down their lives for the country in the post-Independence period. Names of over 26,000 soldiers are inscribed on it.
In a change of tradition, before the commencement of the Republic Day parade in 2020, Mr. Modi paid homage to the fallen soldiers by laying a wreath at the NWM, instead of at the Jyoti.
Since the inauguration of the NWM, all homage ceremonies are being conducted only there. However, defence officials had stated that the Jyoti would be kept burning and used for ceremonial occasions and official visits.
‘No names mentioned’
Downplaying the controversy that emerged on the issue, a government source said it was odd to see that the Jyoti paid homage to the martyrs of 1971 and other wars but none of their names were present. “The names of all Indian martyrs from all the wars, including those in 1971 and others before and after it, are at the NWM. Hence it is a true shraddhanjali to have the flame paying tribute to martyrs there,” the source said.
India Gate was a “symbol of our colonial past” as it has only some of those who fought for the British in the First World War and the Anglo Afghan War, the source noted. “It is ironic that people who did not make an NWM for seven decades are now making a hue and cry when a permanent and fitting tribute is being made to our martyrs.”
Mr. Modi said on social media: “At a time when the entire nation is marking the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, I am glad to share that his grand statue, made of granite, will be installed at India Gate. This would be a symbol of India’s indebtedness to him.”
The 1971 Indo-Pakistani War
The 1971 Indo-Pakistani War was the first war between nations that did not include fighting over the territory of Kashmir. The Dominion of Pakistan was split into West Pakistan and East Pakistan (initially East Bengal) at this time. The Indo-Pak War of 1971 results in the birth of Bangladesh as a new country.
BACKGROUND OF 1971 INDIA PAKISTAN WAR:
- The country was partitioned into India and Pakistan at the time of Indian independence from Britain in 1947, the latter as a Muslim country.
- Pakistan was composed of two divisions at the time, West Pakistan and East Pakistan. East Pakistanis were popularly known as “Pakistani Bengalis”; to distinguish this region from India’s state West Bengal (which is also known as “Indian Bengal”). However, soon after Pakistan’s establishment, the Bengalis were under-represented in the national government and ethnic tensions between both groups were said to exist.
- Bengalis thought that the national government was belittling their community. In Pakistan, there have been campaigns to designate Bengali as an official language, along with Urdu.
- The Bengali nationalist leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, announced his six-point program for regional autonomy for East Pakistan.
- Mujibur’s East Pakistani Awami League party secured a landslide win in Pakistan’s 1970 election, losing just 2 of the 169 seats in the East Pakistan Assembly. In the central Pakistani assembly, the victory also gave the party a simple majority.
- Instead of allowing Mujibur to form the government, the West Pakistani establishment called on the military to suppress dissenters in East Pakistan.
- Protests in support of Mujibur were held in East Pakistan and a violent crackdown was launched in March 1971 by West Pakistan, led by Tikka Khan. In East Pakistan, his army launched a reign of terror, committing systematic atrocities against dissenters. This gained him the nickname of the Butcher of Bengal.
- Mujibur was arrested and taken to West Pakistan. During that time, many Awami leaders fled to India to seek safety. The influx of refugees to India was also enormous and this proved to be an economic burden on India.
- On 26 March 1971, a veteran of the Pakistani army, Major Ziaur Rahman, announced Bangladesh’s independence on the radio.
- In support of the nationalist leaders of East Pakistan, the government of India under Indira Gandhi was vocal and appealed to the international community for assistance in the crisis.
- In East Pakistan, GOI also sponsored the Mukti Bahini. India provided training in refugee camps to East Pakistani Bengali nationals.
- The West Bengal, Tripura, Bihar, Assam, and Meghalaya state governments had also set up refugee camps along the frontier.
WHY DID INDIA INTERVENE IN THE WAR FOR THE LIBERATION OF BANGLADESH?
Due to different strategic, domestic, economic, and humanitarian factors, India was compelled to intervene in the Bangladesh War of 1971.
Strategic Fcators:It was a strategic problem for India to have a hostile West Pakistan and East Pakistan on both sides of its borders. This was intensified by the uncertainty in Sino-Indian relations that resulted in the 1962 war. The intervention in 1971 was therefore appropriate to preserve long-term strategic interests.
Problem of Migrants:The persistent influx of migrants from East Pakistan on the domestic front has generated various problems in the border states. The resources were scarce and there was a constant struggle over the use of these resources between locals and refugees. Also, due to this inflow of refugees, there were numerous other ethnic and social issues.
Economic Factors:The country was spending immense resources on the economic front to accommodate those refugees. As a closed economy, India was not in a position to seek long-term spending capital and therefore needed a long-term solution to the issue. Besides, because of poor connectivity, having a hostile East Pakistan hindered the growth of the north-eastern part of the country. Attacks by West Pakistan toward north-western India and assistance sought by Mukti Vahini compelled India to enter the war to liberate Bangladesh.
Humanitarian Reason: Finally, the atrocities committed against the citizens of East Pakistan forced India to intervene on humanitarian grounds in the conflict to avoid a crisis on a large scale.
WHAT WAS THE MAJOR POINT OF CONFLICT THAT RESULTED IN THE WAR?
West Pakistan, which retained the bulk of political influence, felt oppressed by East Pakistan. An East Pakistan political party won the election in March of 1971, and West Pakistan decided not to accept the outcome. In East Pakistan, this decision led to political instability and West Pakistan reacted with military force. The Bangladesh Liberation War started with independence being proclaimed as Bangladesh by East Pakistan.
- India, through both direct and indirect interventions, played an important role in establishing Bangladesh. It was a humanitarian crisis due to the Pakistani army’s brutality against East Pakistani civilians, including arson, rape, and murder. The increasing refugee crisis was also unmanageable due to the migration of people to escape persecution, the Indian government allowed leaders of the Awami League to form a government in exile (Calcutta), gave military training to Mukti Vahini Sena on Indian soil, provided refugees with food, shelter, clothing and medical assistance despite the enormous strain on their finances, and in December 1971 India defeated Pakistan and more than 93000 Pakistani soldiers were arrested.
HOW DID THE WAR END?
- Pakistan conducted pre-emptive attacks on Indian airfields, including those in Agra, on 3 December 1971. Indira Gandhi said on the radio the same evening that the strikes were seen as a declaration of war against India. This was an entry of India into the war.
- India replied with retaliatory airstrikes against Pakistan the same night. Coordinated air, land, and sea assaults were conducted on Pakistan from all fronts.
- The war lasted just 13 days and ended on 16 December 1971 with the surrender of the Pakistani army to the Eastern front.
- An Instrument of Surrender was signed between Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the commanding officer of the Indian Eastern Command, and his Pakistani counterpart, Lieutenant-General A.A.K. Niazi.
- Over 90000 POWs were taken over by India after the surrender, the largest surrender since the Second World War. Some Bengali nationals who had been faithful to West Pakistan were also among them. For India, the war was a decisive victory and it established India’s military supremacy over Pakistan.
- Pakistan suffered a crushing defeat and it also led to over half of its population being deprived of the region. Bangladesh, the new nation, was created. Mujibur, who became the first President of Bangladesh, was liberated by Pakistan.
- In 1972, the Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan was signed, acknowledging the independence of Bangladesh.
- In July 2011, Indira Gandhi was awarded the Bangladesh Freedom Award posthumously by the Bangladesh government.
WHAT IS THE SHIMLA AGREEMENT?
Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the President of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on 2nd July 1972 signed the Shilma Agreement to withdraw soldiers. Both countries undertook, under the Simla Agreement, to abjure conflict and confrontation that had in the past marred relationships and to work towards the establishment of permanent peace, friendship, and cooperation. The Simla Agreement comprises a set of guiding principles agreed by India and Pakistan on a reciprocal basis, to be adhered to by both parties while maintaining relations with each other.
These underline the following:
- Respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of each other.
- Non-interference with the internal affairs of one another.
- Respect for solidarity with each other and political freedom.
- Sovereign equality and abjuring violence
IMPORTANT PROVISIONS IN THE SHIMLA AGREEMENT:
The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan have decided following to achieve this objective:—
- That the relations between the two countries shall be regulated by the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.
- That the two countries are determined, by bilateral agreements or through some other peaceful means mutually agreed between them, to resolve their differences by peaceful means. Until all of the problems between the two countries are eventually resolved, neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation and both shall prevent all actions detrimental to the preservation of friendly and harmonious relations from coordinating, assisting, or encouraging them.
- That a commitment by both countries to peaceful coexistence, respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, based on equality and mutual gain, is the precondition for reconciliation, good neighborliness, and lasting peace between them.
- That the fundamental problems and causes of conflict that have plagued the relations between the two countries over the past 25 years must be resolved by peaceful means.
- That they value the national unity, territorial integrity, political freedom, and sovereign equality of each other at all times.
- That they would refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of each other, in compliance with the Charter of the United Nations.
- To avoid aggressive rhetoric directed towards each other, both governments will take all measures within their control. The dissemination of such information would be encouraged by both countries to promote the establishment of friendly ties between them.
In order to begin the process of creating a permanent peace, both governments accept that:
- Indian and Pakistani forces are to be separated from their side of the international border.
- In Jammu and Kashmir, without regard to the recognized status of either side, the line of control resulting from the cease-fire of 17 December 1971 shall be respected by both parties. Neither side shall, irrespective of common disagreements and legal interpretations, attempt to modify it unilaterally. Furthermore, in breach of this line, all sides pledge to refrain from the threat or use of force.
- Withdrawals shall begin upon the entry into force of this Agreement and shall be finished within 30 days after such withdrawal.
- In accordance with their respective constitutional procedures, this Agreement shall be subject to ratification by both countries and shall enter into force with effect from the date of exchange of the Instruments of Ratification.
- Both governments agree that their respective heads will meet again in the future at a time of mutual convenience and that, in the meantime, representatives of both sides will meet to negotiate further the modalities and arrangements for the establishment of permanent peace and the normalization of relations, including the repatriation of prisoners of war and civilian internees. Moreover, it also states that both the nations will continue to work towards the settlement of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir to establish lasting peace and the normalization of diplomatic relations.
2. Researchers find anti-cancer activity in marine seagrass
Ethyl acetate fraction of Halodule uninervis has strong anti-cancer activity
Researchers have found scientific evidence of a strong anti-cancer activity in the ethyl acetate fraction of Halodule uninervis, a species of seagrass found in the coastal region of Mandapam close to Rameswaram in southern Tamil Nadu.
The study, claimed to be the first of its kind, was aimed at evaluating the in-vitro anti-cancer activity of ethyl acetate fraction of this seagrass species against various human cancer cell lines, including malignant melanoma, lung, cervix, carcinoma and colorectal cancers.
The findings, which confirmed the anti-cancer activity in the chemically processed Halodule uninervis, which is abundantly available in the Gulf of Mannar, was published in the latest issue of International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Research. The study was done by a team of researchers, comprising Perumal Parthasarathy and Arthanari Umamaheswari, of the Department of Biology and Plant Biotechnology, Presidency College, and Ravichandran Banupriya and Sanniyasi Elumalai of the Department of Biotechnology, University of Madras. According to Dr. Elumalai, cancer was the second largest cause of death globally. Going by World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, the deaths due to cancer were higher in developed countries than in developing countries. In 2050, the number of new cases was estimated to increase by 24 million and the number of cancer-related deaths by 17 million worldwide. While the options available for treatment included surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy, these methods had severe side-effects. As much as 60% of the drugs used for cancer treatment were derived from natural products.
Quoting scientific data and evidence, Dr. Elumalai said marine natural products, including seagrass, micro- and macro-algae, sponges and corals, played a major role in the discovery of novel biologically active compounds.
“Seagrass is one of the groups of marine angiosperms that often lives entirely submerged and are capable of completing their life cycle in a coastal environment. In traditional medicine, seagrass has frequently been used for a variety of therapeutic purposes such as wound-healing, fever, stomach aches, muscle pains and skin diseases. In addition, they have been used in biomedical applications such as anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral activities,” he said.
Halodule uninervis could generate phytoconstituents, including phenols, flavonoids, tannins, steroids and alkaloids, which are reported to possess promising biological applications, including anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic activities.
Dr. Elumalai said the particular species of seagrass, collected from the Mandapam coastal region, was authenticated by the Botanical Survey of India’s Southern Regional Centre, Coimbatore. The collected seagrass was washed well with running water and then by distilled water. It was allowed to be shade-dried and powdered in a grinder. The powder was then fractionated with ethyl acetate by gentle mixing on a shaker for 72 hours. The ethyl acetate fraction of Halodule uninervis was put through qualitative phytochemical screening, quantitative phytochemical analysis and in-vitro anti-cancer activity, besides other chemical processes.
“Our present study found that the seagrass contains a wide variety of secondary metabolites that hold a strong anti-cancer activity against the A549 cell line. Further, purification of the specific active phytoconstituents and preclinical studies need to be conducted for the discovery of anti-cancer drugs…,” to treat lung cancer and reduced side effects,” Dr. Elumalai said. The next step would be to study the impact on animals, followed by clinical trials.
3. Stop import of Iranian apples: dealers to Ministry
The illegal sale poses quarantine pest threat to local fruit producing regions, says a joint forum
A joint forum of apple dealers from Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand chapters has written a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture to stop “the illegal sale of Iranian apples which is posing quarantine pest threat” to local apple producing regions of the country.
“We demand an immediate ban should be imposed on the import of apples from Iran and the duty for other imported apples be raised to 100% with a minimum billing of $1/kg for calculation of duty to avoid dumping of produce in our country,” reads the joint letter submitted to Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar.
The joint letter has been forwarded by the Hill States Horticulture Forum, with its Kashmir Chapter headed by Majid Aslam Wafai, the Himachal Chapter by Harish Chauhan and the Uttarakhand Chapter by Praveen Kumar.
The letter said if the action was not initiated, it would affect the income of farmers, the fresh fruit sector and the future export potential of these fruits from our country.
“Take this communication as an SOS message from the farmers,” the letter said.
According to apple dealers of these three regions, fresh fruit traders have started to import Iran’s fresh apples unlike last year and have started to dump them in the Indian market “at unexpected prices”.
They are adopting a different strategy by “heavily under-invoicing the bills, thereby reducing the impact of import duty”.
This, according to dealers, in spite of Iranian apples posing “a greater threat to our country’s apples after quarantine pest Aspidiotus Nerii detected from kiwi consignments from Iran in December last year.”
According to the letter, the experts at the Sher-i-Kashmir Agriculture University and Science Technology (SKUAST), Srinagar have made it clear that if such pests enter the territory of any apple producing State it would be a catastrophe.