Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Happy Independence Day!!

When India turns 60, lets not forget our great freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for our motherland. On 15th August 1947,when Nehru gave his tryst with destiny speech, India was just born. Today, after 60 years, India has reached new heights in various fields, and following 60 defining moments depicted below, tels us how we did it.


ThE InDiAN..

India (1947-1957)

India gets Independence. (August 15, 1947)

At the stroke of midnight on August 14, 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first PM, stood in the Constituent Assembly and cried freedom. But with freedom came partition: into India and Pakistan.

Nehru's Tryst with destiny Speech on 15th Aug. 1947.

"Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.... We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again."

Nehru Sworn in as the First Prime Minister of Independent India.

Kashmir Joins India.( October 27, 1947)

Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir and governor-general Lord Louis Mountbatten signed the Instrument of Accession on October 27, 1947. Four wars have been waged over Kashmir since then. On 27th September 1947, just a month before the signing, Indian troops were airlifted to Kashmir to defend Srinagar from Pakistan.

Exactly when Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession has been hotly debated for over 50 years.

Official Indian accounts state that in the early hours of the morning of 26 October, Hari Singh fled from Srinagar, arriving in Jammu later in the day, where he was met by V P Menon, representative of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and signed the Instrument of Accession.

On the morning of 27 October, Indian troops were airlifted into Srinagar.

Recent research, from British sources, has indicated that Hari Singh did not reach Jammu until the evening of 26 October and that, due to poor flying conditions, V P Menon was unable to get to Jammu until the morning of 27 October , by which time Indian troops were already arriving in Srinagar.

In order to support the thesis that the Maharaja acceded before Indian troops landed, Indian sources have now suggested that Hari Singh signed an Instrument of Accession before he left Srinagar but that it was not made public until later.

This was because Hari Singh had not yet agreed to include the Kashmiri leader, Sheikh Abdullah, in his future government. To date no authentic original document has been made available.

Pakistan immediately contested the accession, suggesting that it was fraudulent, that the Maharaja acted under duress and that he had no right to sign an agreement with India when the standstill agreement with Pakistan was still in force.

Pakistanis also argued that because Hari Singh fled from the valley of Kashmir , he was not in control of his state and therefore not in a position to take a decision on behalf of his people.

As per the plebiscite formula, Kashmir , with more than 77% Muslim population was to be the part of Pakistan. The Mahraja of Kashmir, Hari Singh Dogra, was initially trying to preserve the integrity of Kashmir, and therefore did not accede to either dominion. But immediately after the announcement of Gurdaspur, he physically positioned himself in the Indian capital.

Mahatma Gandhi Assassinated. (January 30, 1948)

Mahatma Gandhi(1869-1948), famously known as "Mahatama" played a major role durin the era of Indian Independence, but was unfortunate to be killed later.
The day we lost our "Father of the Nation" is remembered as MARTYR's DAY, every 30th of January.

At 5.03 p.m, Nathuram Godse, an RSS worker, shot the Father of the Nation dead, near Birla House in Delhi. Three shots at close range from an automatic 9 mm Beretta irrevocably changed India’s political and cultural future. The raging Hindu-Muslim riots stopped immediately after and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his deputy Vallabhbhai Patel were forced to make peace.

By the holy waters of the Yamuna, near New Delhi, almost a million people waited in the sun for the funeral procession to reach the cremation grounds. White predominated - the white of women's cotton saris and of men's clothes, caps and bulbous turbans. At Rajghat, a few hundred feet from the river, a fresh pyre had been built of stone, brick, and earth. It was eight feet square and about two feet high. Long, thin sandalwood logs sprinkled with incense were stacked on it. Mahatma Gandhi's body lay on the pyre with his head to the north. In that position Buddha met his end. At 4:45 p.m., Ramdas, the third son of the Mahatma, set fire to the funeral pyre. The logs burst into flames. The vast assemblage groaned. Women wailed; men wept. The wood crackled and seethed and the flames united into a single fire. Now there was silence. Gandhi's body was being reduced to ashes and cinders. A nation's father was dead.

On Friday 30 January 1948, Gandhi woke up at his usual hour, 3:30 a.m. After the morning prayer he put the final touches to the new constitution for Congress which he had been unable to finish the previous night. The rest of the morning was spent answering letters. Someone mentioned the fact that despite his poor health he was working incessently. 'Tomorrow', he explained, 'I may not be here'. He was aware of the strengthening of the police guard around the Birla House, but notwithstanding Home Minister Patel's earnest request, Gandhi would not permit those who attended the prayer meetings: 'If I have to die I should like to die at the prayer meeting. You are wrong in believing that you can protect me from harm. God is my protector.' Gandhi had been busy since the early morning. It was now nearly four o' clock in the afternoon, and soon there would be a meeting with Patel. Gandhi had earlier been drawn into the ideological differences and rivalry between Patel and Nehru, and had expressed the view that one of the two should withdraw from the cabinet. He had since come to the conclusion that both were indispensable, pointing out that the government would be seriously weakened if it lost either.

Patel arrived with his daughter, Manibehn, and was promptly ushered into the room where Gandhi sat at his spinning wheel. The conversation with Patel was long and absorbing one. Gandhi stressed that any breach between the two senior party colleagues would be disastrous. He would seek out Nehru after the evening prayer and discuss the whole matter with him as well. Earlier in the day someone had shown him a clipping from the London Times, an article suggesting that the conflict between Nehru and Patel was irreconcilable. He was determined to put an end to the disunity between them, even if it meant delaying his journey to Sevagram. While the conversation continued he took his evening meal. It was now past 5 p.m., but Gandhi did not notice that he was late for the prayer meeting. Abhabehn, the young wife of Kanu Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma's cousin, held up a watch, but neither Gandhi nor Patel paid any attention. After sometime Patel's daughter reminded them that it was ten minutes past five and that Gandhi had been late for his prayer meeting , whereupon the two men rose. It had been decided that Gandhi, Patel and Nehru would together discuss the matter the following day.

Hyderabad liberated.( September 12, 1948)

Osman Ali Khan Bahadur Fateh Jung (April 8, 1886 – February 24, 1967) , His Exalted Highness (the British conferred this upon him), also named Fath Jang Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Asif Jah VII, was the last Nizam (or ruler) of the Princely State of Hyderabad in Southern India. He ruled Hyderabad between 1911 and 1948, when it was merged with the Dominion of India. During his days as Nizam, he was reputed to be the richest man in the world, even featuring on the cover of TIME magazine, portrayed as such.

Its Nizam was the richest man in the world, ruling over more than sixteen million people. It was larger than England and Scotland combined and had a domestic product greater than that of Belgium. But on September 12, 1948, the Indian Army surrounded and secured Hyderabad in just five days. It’s strategic location, the Nizam’s steady refusal to accede and finally, repeated raids by armed Hyderabadi militia on Indian trains and villages, all forced Sardar Patel into action. Other princely states were soon absorbed into India.

Ambedkar presents the Constitution.(November 26, 1949)

Work on the constitution started in December 1946, with a 308-member constituent assembly. Dr. B R Ambedkar was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee. On November 26, 1949, the Constitution was finally passed. It was the longest written constitution in the world, with a total of 117,369 words in English. Speaking after the completion of his work, Ambedkar said: "I feel that the Constitution is workable; it is flexible and it is strong enough to hold the country together. If things go wrong under the new Constitution, the reason will not be that we had a bad Constitution. What we will have to say is that Man was vile."

India becomes a Republic. (January 26, 1950)

The Republic Day of India is a national holiday of India to mark the transition of India from a British Dominion to a republic on January 26, 1950.

President Dr Rajendra Prasad formally endorsed the Constitution, making India a sovereign democratic republic. He hoisted the national flag and took the salute that day at what would later become an annual fixture: the Republic Day Parade.

Although India obtained its independence on August 15, 1947, the Constitution of India came into effect only on January 26, 1950. During the transition period from 1947 to 1950, King George VI was the head of state. Lord Mountbatten and C. Rajagopalachari served as the Governors-General of India during this period. Following January 26, 1950, Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first president of India.

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Defence Minister Baldev Singh at the first
Republic Day parade on January 26, 1950.

Five-Year Plans begin.(1951)

Within two months of India becoming a republic, the Planning Commission started making blueprints for India's future. In spite of its best intentions, regional imbalances widened and competitiveness and free enterprise took a back seat, defeating the very idea of planned development. But through wars, droughts and oil shocks of the 1960s and 1970s, the five-year plans did keep India’s growth steady.

India’s first General Election.( January 1952)

Fresh out of the freedom struggle, India gave voting rights to the masses. The logistics were mind boggling - 4,500 seats to be decided by 176 million Indians, spread over more than a million square miles. Eighty five per cent of them were illiterate. To aid the unread, large pictorial party symbols and separate ballot boxes for each party were used. The West turned up its nose, calling it the biggest gamble in history. Yet, as an exercise in social organisation, and as a display of sheer political exuberance, the 1952 elections had no precedent.

Family planning programme starts. (1952)

At 369 million people, India had too many mouths to feed. The family planning programme revolved around safe contraceptive practices and aimed to put a cap on our burgeoning population. Its mascot, the red inverted triangle, is one of the most recognisable symbols of that era.

Sanger traveled to rural India in a failed attempt to dissuade Mohandas K. Gandhi from his abstinence-only stance on family planning. Ironically, in 1952, India becomes the first nation to adopt family planning as part of its development.

Hindu Code Bills passed.( 1956)

First introduced in the Legislative Assembly in April 1947, the Hindu Code Bill was shelved in 1951 by Jawaharlal Nehru, forcing Ambedkar to resign in anger. The Hindu Succession Act finally became law on 17th June 1956, after pressure by liberal and women's groups. It was a turning point for female rights, giving the widow, daughter and mother, equal right to a deceased man's property, along with his son, grandson and great-grandson. Earlier, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 banned polygamy and increased the right of the divorced wife to maintenance or alimony.

Reorganisation of states based on language.(1956)

When Potti Sriramulu fasted to his death in 1952, demanding a state for Telugu speakers, he set the groundwork for dividing India on linguistic lines. People of the same language tended to share a cultural heritage and a will to work together - no matter what religion or ethnicity they belonged to. The State Reorganization Commission of 1956 ultimately redrew the map of India - coagulating people of the same language into separate autonomous states. It was the most practical way to hold the nation together.

IN December 1950, Vallabhbhai Patel died. The next September, Jawaharlal Nehru assumed the office of Congress president, in addition to that of Prime Minister of India. In both party and government he was paramount. It was to stay that way for the next decade. Be it non-alignment or centralised planning, the policy that Nehru wanted was generally adopted by the Congress, and by the Government of India as well. But there were exceptions.

One such was the creation of linguistic states. In private, Nehru deplored the idea. In public, he said he would agree to their creation only if there was consensus among all parties concerned. However, most Congressmen who spoke Marathi insisted on a separate Maharashtra State. Party members who claimed Gujarati as a mother tongue wanted likewise to have a province of their own. Similar were the aspirations of Congressmen who spoke Kannada, Malayalam, or Oriya. These people all wanted the creation of states based on their own language, and they wanted them as soon as possible.

Without question, the most vigorous movement for linguistic autonomy was the handiwork of the Andhras. Telugu was spoken by more people than any other Indian language besides Hindi. It had a rich literary history, and was associated with such symbols of Andhra glory as the Vijayanagara Empire. While India was still under British rule, the Andhra Mahasabha had worked hard to cultivate a sense of identity among the Telugu-speaking people of the Madras Presidency, whom, they claimed, had been discriminated against by the Tamils. The Mahasabha was also active in the princely state of Hyderabad.

After Independence, the speakers of Telugu asked the Congress to implement its old resolutions — dating back to the 1920s — in favour of linguistic states. The methods they used to advance their case were various: petitions, representations, street marches and fasts. Cutting across party lines, the Andhra legislators in the Madras Assembly supported the demand. In the monsoon of 1951, a Congressman-turned-swami named Sitaram went on a hunger strike demanding the immediate creation of an Andhra State. After five weeks the fast was given up, in response to an appeal by the Sarvodaya leader, Vinoba Bhave.

The agitating Andhras had two pet hates: the Prime Minister, and the Chief Minister of Madras, C. Rajagopalachari. Both had gone on record as saying that they did not think that the immediate creation of Andhra was a good idea. Both were clear that even if, against their will, the state came into being, the city of Madras would not be a part of it. This enraged the Andhras, who had a strong demographic and economic presence in the city, and who believed that they had as good a claim on it as the Tamils.

On May 22, 1952, Nehru told Parliament of how "for some years now our foremost efforts have been directed to the consolidation of India. Personally, I would look upon anything that did not help this process of consolidation as undesirable. Even though the formation of linguistic provinces may be desirable in some cases, this would obviously be the wrong time. When the right time comes, let us have them by all means".

As K.V. Narayana Rao has written, "this attitude of Nehru appeared too vague and evasive to the Andhras. Nobody knew what the right time was and when it would come". Impatient for an answer, the Andhras intensified their protest. On October 19, 1952, a man named Potti Sriramulu began a fast-unto-death in Madras. He had the blessings of Swami Sitaram, and of thousands of other Telugu speaking people besides.

Born in an orthodox household in Madras in 1901, Sriramulu had studied Sanitary Engineering and then took employment in the railways. In 1930 he resigned his post to join the Salt Satyagraha. Later, he spent some time at the Sabarmati Ashram. Later still, he spent 18 months in jail as part of the individual satyagraha campaign of 1940-41.

A hagiographic study published in 1985 by the "Committee for History of Andhra Movement" had this to say about the relationship between Potti Sriramulu and Mahatma Gandhi: "Sreeramulu's stay at Sabarmati was epoch-making. For here was a seeker full of love and humility, all service and all sacrifice for his fellow-humanity; and here also was a guru, the world-teacher, equally full of affection, truth, ahimsa and kinship with Daridra Narayana or the suffering poor. While at Sabarmati, Sreeramulu ... did his tasks with cheer and devotion, and won the affection of the inmates and the approbation of the Kulapati (Gandhi)."

Gandhi did regard Sriramulu with affection but also, it must be said, with a certain exasperation. On November 25, 1946 the disciple had begun a fast-unto-death to demand the opening of all temples in Madras province to Harijans. Other Congressmen, their minds more focussed on the impending freedom of India, urged him to desist. When he refused, they approached Gandhi, who persuaded him to abandon the fast. The Mahatma then wrote to the respected Andhra Congressman, T. Prakasam, that he was "glad that the fast of Sreeramulu ended in the happy manner you describe. He had sent me a telegram immediately after he broke his fast. I know he is a solid worker, though a little eccentric".

"Eccentric" is a word capacious enough to also mean "determined". This Potti Sriramulu certainly was. The fast of 1946 he had called off at Gandhi's instance. But in 1952 the Mahatma was dead; in any case, Andhra meant more to Sriramulu than the Harijans once had. This fast he would carry out till the end, or until the Government of India relented.

On December 3, Nehru wrote to Rajagopalachari: "Some kind of fast is going on for the Andhra Province and I get frantic telegrams. I am totally unmoved by this and I propose to ignore it completely". By this time Sriramulu had not eaten for six weeks. As his ordeal went on, support for the cause grew. Hartals were called in many towns. The sociologist Andre Beteille, travelling to Madras from Calcutta at this time, recalls having his train stopped at Vizag by an angry mob shouting slogans against Rajaji and Nehru.

Nehru now recognised the force of popular sentiment. On December 12, he wrote again to Rajaji, suggesting that the time had come to accept the Andhra demand. "Otherwise complete frustration will grow among the Andhras, and we will not be able to catch up with it". But the formal announcement was delayed, and Sriramulu continued his fast. On the 15th he died. The next day all hell broke loose. Government offices were attacked, and trains stopped and defaced. The damage to state property ran into crores of rupees. Several protesters were killed in police firings. On the 16th, Nehru made a statement saying a state of Andhra would come into being, but its boundaries would be decided by an independent Commission. In March 1953, the Telugu districts of Madras were identified for separation; later, these were joined by Telugu-speaking areas of Hyderabad to constitute the present state of Andhra Pradesh.

I have only a fleeting acquaintance with Hyderabad, and don't know whether a statue of Potti Sriramulu adorns the road that runs alongside Hussainsagar lake. It surely must. And surely there must be a Telugu film based on his life (and myth). Sadly, outside Andhra he is a forgotten figure now. This is a pity, for Sriramulu had a more-than-minor impact on the history, as well as geography, of our country. For his fast and its aftermath were to spark off a wholesale redrawing of the map of India according to linguistic lines. The Andhras might even claim that Potti Sriramulu was the Mercator of India. And in this, the 50th anniversary of the creation of their state, the rest of us might even grant them such hyperbole.

INDIA (1957-1967)

Communism wins in Kerala. (March 1957)

For the first time in world history, Communists took power through the ballot box. On March 16, 1957, the CPI-M secured 65 of the total 126 seats in the Kerala Legislative Assembly. E M S Nampoothiripad became the chief minister. It was India’s first Communist Government, and the first dent in the Congress’ hegemony.

'Mother India'.( 1957) released.

From the day it hit the screen, Mehboob Khan's Mother India has never stopped playing in some theatre or the other in India. Now five decades old—the tale of a peasant family struggling under a moneylender’s yoke and Radha who unflinchingly sacrifices all to keep the family together—tore at the hearts of Indians just freed from British colonial rule. It was the first Indian film to gross over Rs.40 million and the first ever to be nominated for the Oscars.

Rich in color and dramatics, Mother India was a big commercial hit of the period and tells a lot about the storylines popular with the audience in the newly liberated young nation of India. It contains socialist ideas, and melodious music that has become as a hallmark of Bollywood movie making.The success of Mother India established its stars, especially Nargis as a powerful Bollywood icon, and paved way for hundreds of imitation plots in all various remakes across India.

Goa liberated. (December 19, 1961)

The Portuguese were the first European power to arrive in India (in 1510). They were also the last to depart (December 19, 1961), after 450 years. Goan resistance to the regime intensified under Dr Ram Manohar Lohia’s leadership in 1946. After peaceful negotiations failed, sustained aerial bombing by India forced the Portuguese to formally surrender on December 19, 1961. 3,306 Portuguese troops laid down their arms. Within 40 hours of the start of military operations, the last foreign holding in India was brought to an end.

Goa was originally a Portuguese colony after the British left India. The Portuguese refused to give up their colonies in-spite of repeated requests of India. The struggle was two fold. From within Goa and from the Indian Government outside Goa.

No.17 Squadron under Sqn Ldr Jayawant Singh attacked the Wireless station at Bambolim at 0715 Hours on the 18th. Seen above is the Radio Station burning.

The Air Traffic Control Tower at Daman.

Even though the Portuguese assumed that India had renounced the use of force, both the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as well as the defense minister, Krishna Menon made it clear that India would not fail to resort to force as an option, if all diplomatic efforts to make the Portuguese give up Goa fail.

India loses war with China. (November 1962 )

India loses an unprovoked war with China. The armed forces' budget was ramped up dramatically, the nuclear weapons programme put on the fast track. And even though non-aligned, India began tilting towards the Soviet Union for military help.

Jawans keeping a watch in the cold and mountainous terrain of Chushul, Ladakh.

A soldier guarding the lines of communications in Sikkim.

Indian jawans take up positions in a bunker at a forward area in NEFA.

Armymen moving a gun into position at a battlefront in Ladakh.

Jawans patrolling the Pangong shore in Ladakh.

Nehru dies. (May 27, 1964)

Born in Allahabad in 1889 into a wealthy Kashmiri family, Jawaharlal Nehru was lawyer in England till 1912. But by the end of World War Two, he’d evolved into Mahatma Gandhi's second in command in India. India’s first PM, he put India firmly on the path of industrialisation. During the Cold War, Nehru pioneered the non-aligned movement and became a beacon for poor countries that didn’t want to depend on any major power. The defeat to China in 1962 shook him badly and he died soon after May 27, 1964. Nehru died aged 74.

Anti-Hindi protests. (February 1965)

Even before Independence, in 1937, Tamil Nadu protested violently against the imposition of Hindi. Agitations continued through the 1940s, 50s and the first half of the 1960s. Students led from the front, many were injured, others dragged to jail, still others set themselves afire. There were calls for an independent Tamil Nadu and secession from India. Partly due to such protests, English still remains the educational and business language of India.

Indira Gandhi becomes PM.(1966)

On January 19, 1966, Jawaharlal Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi pipped Morarji Desai to take over India’s reins as Prime Minister. Over the years, she became India’s Iron Lady. She was supremely charismatic yet compulsively paranoid about political enemies. Her reign changed India’s future forever.

Indira Gandhi was born on November 19, 1917, in Allahabad, the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, later the first prime minister of India. Being influenced and inspired by her parents, Indira Gandhi rose to power in India and eventually became prime minister. She dedicated her life to progress in her country despite the overwhelming problems and challenges she encountered.

A graduate of Visva-Bharati University, Bengal, she also studied at the University of Oxford, England. In 1938 she joined the National Congress party and became active in India's movement for independence. In 1942 she married Feroze Gandhi (1913-60), a Parsi lawyer also active in the party. Shortly after both were arrested by the British on charges of subversion and spent 13 months in prison.

Indira Gandhi with Paul Nixon.

White Revolution. (1966)

Verghese Kurien’s Amul experiment in Gujarat soon blossomed into the much larger Operation Flood, spread over 23 states, 170 districts and 90,000 village cooperatives. It changed India from an importer to the world's largest milk producer and exporter.

Green Revolution.( 1967)

The Indian farm miracle started around the same time. Minister C. Subramaniam, scientists and farmers used better seeds, double-cropping and easy bank loans to up production by 70 per cent in a decade, making India completely self sufficient in food grains.

India (1967-1977)

Regional parties come to power.( February 19, 1967)

The DMK led by C N Annadurai not only supported popular demand for the advancement of Tamil culture and language and a separate state for Tamils - it also advocated wide spread industrialization as they key to economic independence. When New Delhi made the use of Hindi compulsory in 1967, popular resentment drove Annadurai to power. It marked the end of Congress rule in Tamil Nadu and the rise of regional parties and non-Congress, socialist, Janta Dal forces across India.

Naxalbari uprising. (May 25, 1967)

On May 25, 1967, in Naxalbari village in Darjeeling district, northern West Bengal, a landlord’s hired goons attacked a tribal awarded land by the courts. In retaliation, tribals attacked landlords en-masse and grabbed their land. From this 'Naxalbari Uprising' came the word Naxalite. Though violently stamped out - the movement triggered a split between moderates and hardliners in the communist party. Ideologues from the much older Telangana armed struggle in Andhra Pradesh soon joined cause and in time, the movement spread throughout pockets in India. Today it is probably India’s most potent, yet hidden threat to internal security.

THE organ of the Communist Party of China (CPC) seemed to be consumed by a sense of euphoria as it used these words to describe the Naxalbari uprising in West Bengal in May 1967. It went on to add that the "revolutionary group of the Indian Communist Party has done the absolutely correct thing" by adopting the revolutionary line advanced by Chinese leader Mao Zedong, which involved "relying on the peasants, establishing base area in the countryside, persisting in protracted armed struggle and using the countryside to encircle and finally capture the cities".

The naxalite movement, which began as a violent peasant response to oppression by landlords, has undergone severe conflicts and innumerable splits over ideological and political positions before the regrouping attempt.

Bank Nationalisation, abolition of privy purses. (July 20, 1969)

Forced to pander to the left wing in her minority government, Indira went populist with a vengeance - nationalizing banks, increasing budgetary allocation for the poor and abolishing state stipends for India’s former royalty. But by not taxing the wealthy to finance these efforts, she almost drained the government exchequer. Economic growth crawled at two to three percent, foreign investment dried up and soon raging inflation set in. Ironically, the “Garibi Hatao” slogan that Indira coined in this period gave her an overwhelming victory in the 1971 elections.

India beats England in England. (August 24, 1971)

They had just brought the Ashes home, after 12 years. So logically, Ray Illingworth's England should just have overrun Ajit Wadekar's India. Yet it was routed by our spin revolution - spearheaded by Chandra, Bedi and Venkat. So full of the Ashes was all of England at that time, that its shock loss of a home series to India, didn’t really matter. But to purists, it was proof enough of Indian cricket's coming of age.

Security Guards at the gate of the stadium, during India's First Overseas Test Win.

India-Pakistan War, creation of Bangladesh.( December 1971)

India defeated Pakistan and helped carve out Bangladesh. The victory shook off our weak image after the unsettled 1965 war and the disastrous 1962 conflict with China. Earlier, President Nixon had in sent warships to the Indian Ocean to "threaten" India into submission. But Mrs Gandhi’s special bond with Brezhnev and her "friendship treaty" with the Soviets forced America to back off. However, the India-Pakistan Shimla Agreement signed soon after, could not settle the Kashmir dispute once and for all.

Indian Army soldiers surround an enemy position.

An Indian Navy Ship used during the war.

A hastily-camouflaged Su-7 returns home after a sortie during the 1971 Indo-Pak War.

Chipko Andolan. (March 1973)

Simmering discontent against logging in the Garwhal Himalayas finally flared up when in 1973, the State Forest Department banned villagers from cutting trees to make basic implements. But simultaneously, a sporting goods company was permitted to cut 32 trees to make tennis racquets. Irate women hugged the trees in question - and demanded to be killed before the trees were harmed. The Government and its contractor soon backed down and thus was born a peaceful, soon nationwide protest against deforestation.

Chipko in Hindi means "stick to". In the early 1970's, that's what thousands of villagers in the fertile valleys of the upper Himalayas did when wood contractors came to fell their trees.They hugged the trees and dared the government to have them cut.The contractors backed off.And so, one of the greatest ecological movements of India was born.It was coordinated by the Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh, then a tiny Sarvodaya organisation, headed by the rugged Chandi Prasad Bhat. Women, the worst sufferers of environmental degradation(in villages they have to draw water and cut firewood and fodder), became the spearheads of Chipko.Such was the following they built in Garhwal Himalayas that the Uttar Pradesh government was forced to ban felling of trees in high slopes of the mountain range.They also got the Central government to bring in new laws on forest felling that ultimately gave birth to the Department of Environment as we know it today.

Launch of Project Tiger. (1973)

In the early 1970’s, only 1,827 tigers existed in the wild, thanks to deforestation and poaching. Faced with an international outcry and the imminent extinction of our national animal, the Government nationalized nine major wild life sanctuaries and banned deforestation and poaching. By 1980, the tiger population dramatically doubled and Project Tiger became the role model for preserving the country's dwindling ecosystems.

Mrs Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, presents award to Hemendra S. Panwar, Director of WWF's Project Tiger campaign, 10 years after the India's Project Tiger Launch, in the presence of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Mr Guy Mountfort. Mrs Indira Gandhi, upon WWF founder trustee Guy Mountfort's recommendations, set up a special task force to plan India's Tiger Project, which was launched on 1 April 1973, India.

Project Tiger is the most famous wildlife conservation project of India, which was lunched in 1972 to protect the diminishing population of Indian tigers. As recently as 1970, the hunting of tigers was legal in India and this majestic animal was hunted by the erstwhile royals and elites for pleasure and its beautiful skin. According to various estimates, during the 1950s and early 1960s, over 3,000 tigers lost their lives to trophy hunters. In the beginning of the 1970s, the tiger population in India was estimated to be around 1,800, shocking and jolting the concerned authorities to formulate an immediate plan to save Indian tigers and the result was the launch of Project Tiger in 1972.

The main aim of Project Tiger was to create a safe haven and ideal environmental conditions for the survival and growth of tigers and its prey to ensure maintenance of a viable population of this wonderful animal in the country. From its inception in 1972, Project Tiger was aimed at saving the tiger and to identify and eliminate the factors responsible for the decline of tiger population in the country. The factors recognized by Project Tiger included habitat destruction, forestry disturbance, loss of prey, poaching and competition with local villagers and domestic animals.

List of Tiger Reserves in India--

  • Bandhavgarh
  • Bandipur
  • Bhadra
  • Bori-Satpura
  • Buxa
  • Corbett
  • Dampa
  • Dudhwa
  • Indravati
  • Kalakad-Mundanthurai
  • Kanha
  • Manas
  • Melghat
  • Nagarjunasagar
  • Namdapha
  • Pakhui-Nameri
  • Palamau
  • Panna
  • Pench (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Pench (Maharashtra)
  • Periyar
  • Ranthambore
  • Sariska
  • Similipal
  • Sundarbans
  • Tadoba-Andhari
  • Valmiki

First Nuclear Explosion, Pokhran (1974)

“It was like Krishna lifting up the hill," said a top nuclear scientist after watching the explosion of India's first nuclear device on May 18, 1974, in the Pokhran desert in Rajasthan. Pakistan's Prime Minister Z A Bhutto swore his country would make the bomb even if they had "to eat grass". It took another 24 years for India to declare itself a nuclear weapons state after a series of explosions in May 1998.

Indira Gandhi inspects the site of India’s first nuclear explosion, Pokhran, 1974.

First underground nuclear explosion at Pokhran in Rajasthan on May 18, 1974.
Photo shows a view of the creater formed after the explosion.

Emergency's hard lessons.( June 26, 1975)

Justice Sinha’s orders officially unseated Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister. In response, she got the President to declare Emergency, snatching away democratic freedoms and making India a totalitarian state. Her paranoia-fuelled dictatorship over the next two years drove the world’s largest democracy to the brink - and beyond.

By 1974 India with its few rich and many poor had become a seething mass of discontents. The Bihar Movement was initiated by students and led by the veteran Gandhian Socialist Jayaprakash Narain (JP). By 1974 it had attracted a mass following amongst all sections of the population.

Non-violent and reformist in character, the movement helped focus attention on the grievances of the people. During the Emergency it became, along with its leader JP, the symbol of resistance to dictatorship, culminating in the electoral defeat of the Congress Party in March 1977.

Waves of Revolution was completed in secret in 1975 using outdated film stock and makeshift equipment. A part of it was shot in Super 8 which was then projected on to a screen and re-filmed with a 16 mm camera. Processing took place in various laboratories for fear of discovery. The sound was almost entirely recorded on a consumer cassette recorder.
Clandestine screenings of the film took place in India during the Emergency. In September 1975 a print was cut into segments, smuggled abroad, reassembled and circulated by non-resident Indian organizations and individuals concerned with exposing the growing repression in India. Today the film serves as a reminder of the spirit of a people who fought for the right to democracy.

Sholay: India’s first 70 mm spectacle.( 1975)

Some call it India's answer to Godfather. Ramesh Sippy, its maker, could never manage an equal in his long career. A finely scripted, mega-budget, multi-starring blockbuster, Sholay released on August 15, 1975. Almost three decades later, it remains the Indian film industry's most memorable movie.

Some of the dialogues of the film, are used til date.

"Basanti!!! inn kutto ko samne, mat nacho"

And the famous liner, " Arey O sambha!! Kitne aadmi they "..

Sippy pulls off every conceivable cinematic trick set to plan Bambaiya (Bombay cinema's mise-en-scene) to tell the story of two runaway thieves defending a village against dacaits (bandits). It was a case of the extraordinarily popular dacait film meets Sergio Leone. The cinematography was spectacular as were the crisp dialogues written by Salim-Javed and delivered with inimitable panache by all concerned. The film ran for years and the fans are still reciting the lines. Never had dustbowl India looked as glamorously menacing as during Helen-RD Burman's effortless cabaret of Mehbooba mehbooba set in the ravines of the Chambal. The film established Bachchan's reputation as India's No. 1 'angry young man' ushering in an era of leather jacket-clad superheroes swinging between motorbikes and horses. But the showpiece of the set was Amjad Khan's Gabbar Singh whose terror, it is rumoured, is still invoked by mothers to put their children to sleep.

India (1977-1987)

Emergency ends, Morarji is PM.( March 24, 1977)

After a 21-month long national Emergency, India resoundingly trashed the Congress’ thirty-year rule. Morarji Desai become India’s first non-Congress Prime Minister. Euphoria swept the nation. The Janata Party and its collaborators formed India’s first coalition government. Many parties in power today trace their genesis to that time. Jan Sangh then is today’s BJP. The Bharatiya Kisan Dal of that day has spawned various regional outfits today.

PM of USSR A. N. Kosygin on official visit in Delhi. At the reception hosted by PM of India Morarji Desai.

Left Front wins in WB, 30 years of red rule.( March 1977)

During the 1977 West Bengal election, the CPM offered its Janata allies a majority of seats if it came to power. Janata’s greed for more wrecked the alliance but a massive wave of worker-peasant discontent propelled the stunned Stalinists to power. Since then, they haven’t lost a single state election, becoming the world’s longest serving, democratically elected communist government. Paradoxically this electoral success has coincided with an overall economic decline in the state.

Jyoti Basu being sworn in as chief minister of the LF government on June 21, 1977.

File photo of a Left Front rally in Calcutta.

SLV-3 satellite launcher succeeds. (July 18, 1980)

On July 18, 1980, India's image as a country of bullock-carts was changed forever. The SLV-3, our first satellite launcher, punched a 30 kg satellite 300 km into space. ‘Made in India’ suddenly was a tag to be proud of. Today, India hurls indigenous satellites as big as trucks 36,000 km into space, saving billions in foreign exchange. And Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, team leader of that operation is today our President.

Rohini Satellite (RS-1)Series
(Launched by Indian launch vehicle SLV-3 )

Orbit : 300 km x 900 km elliptical orbit (97 minutes period)

Lauched by : India, SLV-3 rocket

Objectives : The satelite provided data on the fourth stage performance and ranging.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam stood in front of a huge model of the SLV-3 (Satellite Launch Vehicle) erected in front of the Control Centre of the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) here on Thursday, he looked fascinated and thrilled. For, the model looked the same as the SLV-3 that he and his team built in 1980 catapulting India into space. "Majestic!" he exclaimed, as he saw the model. The SLV-3 had put the 38.5 kg Rohini satellite into orbit.

India's SLV-3 (Satellite Launch Vehicle), painted white and grey, rose from its launch-pad at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. It put a 38.5-kg satellite, Rohini, in orbit. The Project Director of that mission was A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who is now President of India. That "fantastic success," as Vasant Gowariker, then the Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, described it, made India the seventh member of the space club.

As SLV-3 project director he shows Prof. Yashpal, P.N. Haksar, and Satish Dhavan around the integration facility at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram in the late 1970s.

FOND MEMORIES: ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair presenting a collage of pictures of SLV-3 days to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at Thumba in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is at extreme left.

Colour TV launched. (November 19, 1982)

Indians saw colours come alive on screen for the first time. November 19, 1982 saw the first colour telecast of the Asian Games in Delhi. It wasn’t cheap, an Indian colour TV cost Rs 8,000. An imported set, Rs 15,000. Yet, TV sales boomed. And Indians were hooked to the idiot box.

India wins the World Cup. (June 25, 1983)

The Venue: Home of India’s past colonial masters. The enemy: West Indies, invincible supermen. The Result: victory. By grabbing India’s first and till date only World Cup, Kapil's Devils made cricket an entire nations everlasting obsession. A sport weighed down by Victorian values and Anglo-centric ethos suddenly blossomed in a landscape of dazzling colour and variety. It’s an event still etched in sharp memory for many Indians.

The Victory Cup with Kirti Azad, Ravi Shastri, Kris Srikkanth, Dilip Vengsarkar & others.

Indian cricket team wins Cricket World Cup in 1983 - captain Kapil Dev on the left; President of India holding the Cup; and the Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi on the right.

The Indian Squad that won the 1983 World Cup comprised:

Mohinder Amarnath
Kirti Azad
Roger Binny
Kapil Dev (captain)
Sunil Gavaskar
Syed Kirmani (wicketkeeper)
Madan Lal
Sandeep Patil
Balwinder Sandhu
Yashpal Sharma
Ravi Shastri
Kris Srikkanth
Sunil Valson
Dilip Vengsarkar

In the 1983 Cricket World Cup, India was given a boost in that it would be able to play two matches against each of the three teams in its pool. The only minnows in the World Cup were the Zimbabwe cricket team, a team that India was grouped with. India were also grouped with the West Indies and Australia, creating formidable matchups for a team that had become known for its inability to perform in the World Cup.

India opened up their campaign against the favourites, the West Indies. But it shocked all observers with a 34 run victory an 89 from Yashpal Sharma. India totalled up 262 in 60 overs and tumbled the West Indies out for 228, thanks to a quick 3 wickets from Ravi Shastri. A confident team went on to deal out a thrashing against Zimbabwe, chasing down the total of 156 with 23 overs and 5 wickets to spare. Madan Lal was the destroyer in chief with his three wickets. However, the confidence and morale were short-lived as India was dealt out a 162 run thrashing from Australia 2 days later. India collapsed to 158 attempting to chase Australia's mammoth 320.

As India entered the second half of the group stage, they opened up with a loss against the West Indies by 66 runs. Vivian Richards 119 took the West Indies to 282 in 60 overs, a score that India was unable to chase despite Mohinder Amarnath's 80 from 139 balls. India's next match against Zimbabwe was to become famous for the remainder of history. The favourites, India, were 5-17 by an emerging Zimbabwe bowling lineup. A defeat would have made qualifying for the semifinal impossible, but Kapil Dev's famous 175 not out took India to 266 (he combined with Syed Kirmani in a 126 run 9th wicket partnership). The Zimbabwe batsmen got starts but were once again hampered by Kapil Dev and Madan Lal who got 4 wickets between them. India ended up winning by 31 runs. However, the last match against Australia was still a must win. But India made light work, winning by 118 runs thanks to 4-wicket hauls by Madan Lal and Roger Binny.

India's semi-final match against England contained no drama. India coasting to a 6 wicket victory. The major contributors were Yashpal Sharma and Mohinder Amarnath with the bat. While Kapil Dev picked up 3-35 to seal a victory that took India to the World Cup final. The final was considered somewhat of an anticlimax, most expecting a clear West Indies win although India had beaten them in the preliminary rounds. The West Indies tumbled India out for 183 and were cruising on their way to a memorable victory at 2-57 before suffering a major collapse. They were annihilated by the Indian bowlers and reached 6-76 before providing some sort of resistance. They were all out for 140, India won by 43 runs. The heroes of the day were Mohinder Amarnath (3/12 and 26) and Kris Srikkanth (top scorer with 38).

Fans throng Lords after India’s 1983 world cup win.

Maruti 800 launched.( December 1983)

On roads ruled by the Ambassador and the Premier Padmini, not many gave the 800 a chance. Yet, in just two years, it became India’s largest selling car. By becoming a middle-class necessity and putting more women behind the wheel than any other car in India, the 800 redefined the concept and class of mobility.

Mr. Harpal Singh, Maruti’s first customer, proudly received the keys of the Maruti 800 car from the Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi on December 14, 1983.

Family Soaps Hum Log & Ramayan.( 1984-86)

157 episodes telecast. 214 crore man-hours glued to the TV. 400 letters a day flooding the Doordarshan office. By the time Hum Log wound down in December 1985, its blend of homespun family values and Ashok Kumar’s breathless homilies were already the stuff of legend. In January 1986, Ramayan hit the screen and Sunday mornings were never the same again. Ramanand Sagar's TV adaptation of Valmiki's ancient epic had the nation begging for more. Side by side Hindutva fever began sweeping the nation.

Buniyaad goes second in the history book after Humlog. If some one would have taken a viewer rating, these will be the all time high for a decade or so. Alok Naths got his biggest break of his life with buniyaad.

Operation Bluestar, Indira killed. (June 1984)

When Khalistani militants took shelter in Amritsar’s Golden Temple, Indira ordered the army in. Sikhism’s holiest shrine was besieged from June 3 to June 6 - it was one of the worlds biggest counter-terrorist operations. Five months later, Indira paid with her life for her boldness. The assassination sparked off crazed anti-Sikh riots - hundreds of innocent Sikh families were slaughtered in cold blood.

In June 1984, India's late former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi gave personal approval to Operation Bluestar.The objective was to flush out militant Sikhs, fighting for an independent homeland of Khalistan, from the Golden Temple complex.Bluestar achieved its military objectives.

But the costs were enormous. There has never been agreement on how many people were killed in and around the temple, and how many of the dead were innocent bystanders, rather than militants.Later that year Mrs Gandhi's Sikh bodyguards assassinated her.That in turn triggered a wave of anti-Sikh rioting which left nearly 3,000 Sikhs dead.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy.( December 3, 1984)

On the night of December 3, more than three lakh unsuspecting Bhopalis were suffocated by a mix of methyl isocyanate, chloroform and hydrochloric acid leaking from the local Union Carbide plant. More than two thousand died instantly. The survivors never got well again. Their children are still born with genetic defects. Investigations revealed that all safety regulations had been brazenly flouted.

During the night,large amounts of water entered a tank containing 43 tonnes of Methyl isocyanate (MIC) in Union Carbide's plant in Bhopal, India. A strong chemical reaction started and a big cloud of toxic gases spread over the sleeping town. 500,000 people were exposed to the gases. 8,000 died within the first week, and 8,000 since. 100,000 have permanent injuries.

Today, Dow Chemical has taken over Union Carbide Corporation. The survivors fight for their right to full economic compensation and medical care. Together with other residents, they fight for Dow to clean up the polluted area and the ground water.

SHOW OF PROTEST: Survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy take out a protest rally in Bhopal.

An Indian woman looks at a photo exhibition on the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy in the central Indian city of Bhopal.

Equity markets cult takes root.( February 11, 1986)

On February 11, 1986, 110 companies came out with public issues -extraordinary for what was at that time, a fledgling primary market. The prime mover of the equity cult in that era - Reliance Industries. It raised an army of 12 million shareholders, created wealth for them and democratized the stock markets - much before Infotech companies took over.

India (1987-1997)

Satellite cable TV revolution.( 1990)

The 1991 Gulf War made CNN a household name. Rupert Murdoch brought over most of Star TV in July 1993. The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act was passed in 1995. From one terrestrial channel to 70 satellite networks - the Indian viewer was soon on a never-ending joyride.

Advani’s rath yatra. (1990)

In a motor carriage emblazoned with the Om and the Lotus, Lal Krishna Advani’s political rally covered 10,000 km across India. His attempt at defeating V P Singh's Mandal agenda clicked. The BJP's support base surged in the 1991 elections: its seat share in the Lok Sabha increased from 85 to 120 in just two years. Nobody knew it then but the Yatra was to mark the end of one epoch and the beginning of another in Independent India.

L.K. Advani during the Somnath-Ayodhya rath yatra, which made the demolition of the Babri Masjid possible and inflicted a deep scar on the Indian civilisation.

Mandal Commission report accepted. (August 1990)

V P Singh stretched the limits of affirmative action, including more castes in the reservation net. North India erupted in violence and Indian society’s age-old fault lines were exposed again. Reservation took precedence over merit. No party has had the courage to change that formula yet.

There is reason to believe that the students protests in 1990 would not have been so ferocious if it were not for the covert support extended to them by certain political parties, such as the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Mandal Commission protests of 1990 closed roads, highways, transportation services, government services, schools, and businesses of India. Anti-reservationists protested against the political content of the commission with the potential to riot and clash against reservationists. Student protests were planned publicly, and in advance. Protests typically escalated to damage and violence with or without students. Protest events were photographed for many published articles of newspapers locally and nationally.Protests began during the year when the eleven-year-old Mandal Commission linked to government employment.

Between the failure to effectively control the political cost of the protests escalating enough to close parts of the nation, and an eleven-year-old human rights improvement project, were causes that ultimately led to accepting the resignation of the Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh of India. Most likely, the protests were comparable to a globally largest, unified national demonstrations of a labour union strike combined with a version of a race riot.

Rajiv Gandhi assassinated.( May 21, 1991)

A woman garlands Rajiv at a rally in Sriperambadur, Tamil Nadu. The next moment, she blows herself to smithereens, taking the Prime Minister of India with her. It was an act of revenge for sending the IPKF into Sri Lanka. The Gandhi dynasty suddenly seemed to have run its course.

Economic liberalisation.( June 1991)

Visitors take a look at a Yamaha motor cycle at one of the stalls of Roadscape 2004 auto exhibition in Bangalore. India’s 1991 economic liberalisation ushered in a virtual automobile revolution with dozens of models on offer from global giants.

The policy shifts were big enough. But even bigger was the change in mindsets. Thanks to liberalization, the license raj ended; almost all Central taxes were lowered and public-sector monopoly on a whole range of industries was broken. A good 44 years after political freedom, India finally began to taste economic freedom.

Babri Masjid demolished. (December 6, 1992)

On December 6, 1992, Indian secularism fell to the fanatic’s pick-axe. When the Masjid crumbled, it ripped the fabric of communal harmony in free India. Today, Ayodhya is still a hotbed of dispute, a source of energy to the loony fringe of the Sangh Parivar and an abiding motif in the divisive politics of the republic.

The Followers of Godse, The Aftermath of The Babri Masjid Demolition in Ayodhya.

'One group of karsevaks blocked all entry points into Ayodhya to keep out central security forces, while another began to loot and burn Muslim homes'.

The low, continuous chant of Jai Shri Ram, coming over the loudspeakers since dawn, suddenly became more aggressive in both tone and content:

Jai Shri Ram, bolo Jai Shri Ram,

Jinnah bolo Jai Shri Ram,

Gandhi bolo Jai Shri Ram,

Mullah bolo Jai Shri Ram...

Mayawati, a Dalit becomes CM of India’s largest state.( 1993)

Born in Delhi on January 15, 1956, Mayawati was a school teacher till 1984 when she began her political career with the BSP. She became Uttar Pradesh’s and India’s first Dalit Chief Minister in 1993 after her party won the polls in alliance with the Samajwadi Party. Accused of several scams during her reign, she pioneered a Dalit-Brahmin combine for the first time in UP politics and managed to beat all comers consistently over the years.

Infotech lists on the markets.( February 1993)

In February 1993, the Infosys share got listed - with a face value of Rs 10 and a market value of Rs 95. It was to be the bargain of the decade. Those who invested became multi-millionaires almost overnight. It spear headed the Infotech revolution which would soon create 7 lakh high-salary jobs, and a globally competitive Rs 60,000 crore plus industry.

Beauty pageants craze. (1994)

First Sushmita Sen became Miss Universe. Then Aishwarya Rai was crowned Miss World. The double whammy sparked off a near hysterical beauty industry. Till date, salons and grooming schools in every nook and corner of India, entice starry-eyed hopefuls with dreams of success.

  • Sushmita Sen, Miss Universe 1994.

  • Aishwarya Rai, Miss World 1994.

  • Diana Hayden, Miss World 1997.

  • Yukta Mukhey, Miss World 1999.

  • Lara Dutta, Miss Universe 2000.

  • Priyanka Chopra, Miss World 2000.

  • Diya Mirza, Miss Asia-Pacific 2000.

Telecom revolution.( 1995)

For 40 years owning a phone was more difficult than owning a house in this country. Today, nearly two crore Indians - including farmers and fishermen - don't leave home without their cell phones. The credit goes to two major policy decisions. First, the privatization of the telecom sector in the November 1994, ending government monopoly and indifferent service. Second, revenue sharing between the government and the telecom operators in 1999 - triggering a tariff crash from Rs 16 a minute then to Re 1 now.

Architect of India's telecom revolution, renowned entrepreneur, National Knowledge Commission and World Tel Limited Chairman Sam Pitroda has been chosen for the Dr. Nayudamma award for the year 2005.

He was chosen for his outstanding contribution to India's telecom revolution, founder and managing trustee of Tenali-based Dr. Y. Nayudamma Trust P. Vishnu Murthy said on Saturday.

The award was instituted in 1986 in memory of the late scientist and internationally acclaimed leather technologist, Dr. Yelavarthy Nayudamma, who hailed from Tenali in Guntur district. The award is presented to persons who had made a significant contribution to the development of science and technology in the country

Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda, better known as Dr Sam Pitroda, born in Titlagarh, Orissa, is an inventor, entrepreneur and policymaker. Currently chairman of India's National Knowledge Commission, he is also widely considered to have been responsible for India's communications revolution . He is the Chairman and CEO of World-Tel Limited, an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) initiative. He holds many key technology patents, has been involved in several startups, and lectures extensively around the world on the implications of communications and information technology.

He is also the founder and CEO of C-SAM, Inc, and serves as a director on the board of Jet Airways. C-SAM has developed an m-Commerce application by the name OneWallet. The company has offices in London, Tokyo, and offshore development centres in India in Mumbai and Vadodara. He has served as an advisor to the United Nations and in 1992, his biography was published, and became a bestseller. Mr. Pitroda has lived mainly in Chicago, Illinois since 1964, with his wife and two children.

India (1997-2007)

Multiplex Cinema & Malls,(1997)

Soon after India's first multiple screen theatre opened in Delhi in 1997, even non-metro towns like Jallandhar rushed to get their own multiplexes. While the movies spun a consumerist fantasy, the shopping mall delivered the goods right outside—all under one roof. India's busy, newly rich middle class couldn’t have asked for more. With multiplex owners inking deals with distributors abroad, international blockbusters started releasing in India much, much sooner.

Kargil War,(1999)

First the miracle: Prime Minister Vajpayee taking the bus to Lahore to greet Nawaz Sharif, his Pakistani counterpart. Then the shock: Pakistan occupied Kargil heights. A three-month war that almost went nuclear finally ended with a Pak army retreat. In Pakistan, the military revolted against its political masters. In India, terrorism became the crux of international diplomacy. And finally, the world woke up to Kashmir’s stark reality.By calling the Kargil war and the 1998 nuclear tests the party's milestones, the BJP seems to admit that the distinction between the party and the government was blurred during its rule at the Centre.

Back in Indian hands: Jawans with the flag on Point 4825, which was being held by the enemy in the Mushkoh Valley.

Two Jawans, from the 2nd Rajputana Rifles, take cover behind rocks on their way to Tololing Top. The post was finally cleared of enemy, but a high cost.

Astha Arora, India’s ‘billionth’ baby born. (May 2000)

From 300 million people at Independence to one billion five decades later-it’s been a losing battle controlling India’s population. Food production trebled, yet starvation was rampant. Literacy increased but so did the number of illiterates. Despite the population boom, there are only about 900 women for every 1,000 men in India. Blissfully unaware of all this, Baby Astha Arora was born in Delhi’s Safdarjang Hospital at 12:20 p.m. She was one of the almost 42,000 other babies estimated to be born every minute in India.

Software becomes $10 billion industry. (2001-2002)

India became the back-office of the world, and raked in the moolah. Software boomed - achieving the magic US$10 billion mark, most of it from exports ($7.68 billion). IT-enabled services and Business Process Outsourcing posted a 67 percent growth, outstripping every other industry in the world! Low cost, high quality and a vast base of specialized, English-speaking manpower were the prime drivers combined with a well-developed telecom network. Soon, one in four global IT customers would turn to India for their software needs.

Sabarmati Express torched, Gujarat riots begin.(February 2002)

When Hindu voluntary workers on an express train were set afire, allegedly by Muslims in Godhra, Gujarat erupted in fury. Sword wielding mobs systematically butchered entire Muslim families, torched neighborhoods, raped and pillaged innocents. Narendra Modi, both reviled and admired - for carefully plotting the entire massacre - become the new force of the BJP.

When Afsana, an 18-year-old Muslim living on the outskirts of the Gujarati capital of Ahmadabad, heard last Wednesday that a Muslim mob had torched a train, the Sabarmati Express, at Godhra, she was appalled—and very, very frightened. She knew that revenge would be nigh. Her neighborhood, Naroda, is largely Hindu. On the day after the Godhra killings, local Hindu leaders gathered a crowd of 2,000 residents and gave them simple instructions: Muslims had to be destroyed. When part of the mob reached Afsana's house, she fled with her five-year-old brother to a Hindu neighbor's house. From the neighbor's roof, Afsana saw the mob pull her parents from their home, douse them in gasoline and set them alight. Her four sisters were stripped, raped and killed. Along the lanes, other Muslim houses were burning.

A Muslim in Ahmedabad pleads for his life from murderous Hindu gangs.

Launch of low-budget airlines. (August 25, 2003)

India's first low-cost airline Air Deccan started service on August 25, 2003. Soon, more than a dozen others entered the fray. India's booming economy made domestic air travel grow 25 percent per year. Dramatically reduced travel time, steadily improving connectivity and surprisingly low fares made low cost carriers a hit with India's increasingly prosperous middle class. Despite long delays, crowded cabins and zero in-flight service - the common man could finally fly.

Captain G.R. Gopinath looks more like a mild-mannered research scientist than the CEO of an airline - hardly the sort of person who would send shivers down a competitor's spine. Even though he launched Air Deccan's services in September 2003, not many in the aviation industry have taken him seriously so far.

Air Deccan’s Captain Gopinath: The battle with full-service airlines like Jet, Sahara and Indian Airlines will heat up when the low-cost pioneer enters trunk.

First non-Congress coalition completes 5-year term. (May 2004)

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Rajasthan BJP president Vasundhara Raje Scindia wave to the crowd at a rally in Jaipur.

BJP’s first coalition lasted a paltry 13 days in 1996. It shot back to power after the Kargil war, leading the United Front. Tossed out in November 1997, it bounced back on March 20, 1998. Trashed in April 1999, it rose again, with the National Democratic Alliance in October 1999. It wasn’t until May 2004, that a Congress led alliance could wrest power back and make Dr. Manmohan Singh Prime Minister. By that time, the BJP and its varied allies had already become the first non-Congress coalition to complete a full five-year term.

RTI Act. (June 15, 2005)

By giving aggrieved Indians the right to question government bodies and to expect an answer within 30 days - it became the common man’s greatest weapon against corruption and red-tapism. From passport wrangles to university admissions, from inflated bills to municipal infrastructure - government inefficiency was questioned and quick remedies provided. Nothing was secret anymore. Passed by Parliament in June, The Right to Information Act was enforced from 13 October 2005.

For More Info on RTI Act: http://persmin.nic.in/RTI/WelcomeRTI.htm

US signs nuclear deal with India. (July 18, 2005)

America went out on a limb - recognizing India as a responsible nuclear weapons power. It offered us nuclear technology, fuel and military hardware it had banned after Pokhran in 1998. By doing so - it put aside non-proliferation laws it had held sacrosanct for the past 60 years, just for India! The document signed in July was only a memorandum of understanding. Yet, it shattered the suspicions and aloofness of the cold war era - and demonstrated just how far the US is willing to go to woo us.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (R) shakes hands with United States President George W. Bush ahead of their meeting in New Delhi, capital of India, March 2, 2006. Singh told a press conference held after their meeting that India and the US signed an agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation on March 2.

Tata Corus & Arcelor Mittal deals. (2006-07 )

In June 2006, India's mascot businessman Lakshmi Mittal did the unthinkable. The world's largest steel company, Mittal Steel, merged with the second largest player, Arcelor SA, to form Arcelor Mittal-producing 10% of the world’s steel. In January 2007, Tata Steel brought out British steel company Corus for $13.6 billion - the largest foreign takeover by an Indian enterprise ever. It created the world's fifth-largest steel company and made Tata, India's largest business group. In February, Aditya Birla Group's Hindalco paid $6bn to acquire Canadian aluminum firm Novelis. The three deals shook the world - India took a bow as a global economic player.Mittal used his company's market capitalization as "acquisition currency".