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This excerpt from a book demolishes Ashoka’s reputation as pacifist

Sanjeev Sanyal’s interesting new book looks at how the Indian Ocean shaped human history. In the process, he questions a number of long held notions including Emperor Ashoka’s reputation as a pacifist A fragment of the 6th Pillar Edicts of Ashoka (238 BCE), in Brahmi, sandstones. (British Museum/ Wikipedia) Updated on Aug 06, 2016 01:43 PM IST Sanjeev Sanyal | By HT Correspondent Chandragupta abdicated in 298 BC (or 303 BC according to another source) in favour of his son Bindusara who ruled till 273 BC. Bindusara had inherited an empire that was already very large — from Afghanistan to Bengal. He seems to have extended the realm further south till the empire covered all but the southern tip of the peninsula. For the most part, his rule seems to have been peaceful except for a few rebellions. He also seems to have maintained diplomatic and trade links with the kingdoms carved out from Alexander’s empire. In 274 BC, Bindusara suddenly fell ill and died. The crown prince Sushima was away
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Ashoka’s moral empire

Being good is hard. How an ancient Indian emperor, horrified by the cruelty of war, created an infrastructure of goodness by Sonam Kachru  In the Khyber valley of Northern Pakistan, three large boulders sit atop a hill commanding a beautiful prospect of the city of Mansehra. A low brick wall surrounds these boulders; a simple roof, mounted on four brick pillars, protects the rock faces from wind and rain. This structure preserves for posterity the words inscribed there: ‘ D oing good is hard – Even beginning to do good is hard.’ The words are those of Ashoka Maurya, an Indian emperor who, from 268 to 234 BCE, ruled one of the largest and most cosmopolitan empires in South Asia. These words come from the opening lines of the fifth of 14 of Ashoka’s so-called ‘major rock edicts’, a remarkable anthology of texts, circa 257 BCE, in which Ashoka announced a visionary ethical project. Though the rock faces have eroded in Mansehra and the inscriptions there are now almost illegible, Ashoka’s

Gwadar’s women

Updated   05 Dec, 2021   09:04am Gwadar’s women MARYAM ZIA BALOCH WHAT happened in Gwadar earlier this week was surprising for everyone in the country. Hundreds of women  participated in the rally  ‘Give Rights to Gwadar’, led by Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI). Never before have Baloch women come out in such huge numbers for any public movement or political party, anywhere in Balochistan. True, Baloch women have been at the forefront of the struggle for the recovery of Baloch missing persons since the last 10 years. But this was the first time that so many women stepped out of their homes to protest against the lack of basic necessities, including water and electricity in Gwadar, and to demand a ban on illegal trawling and the easing of the border trade with Iran. Listening to the women addressing the crowd, one would not have been able to tell that they were out for the first time. They were eloquent, articulate and enraged about the problems that Gwadar residen

The Myth of the Meritorious Doctor

Caste privilege in the medical profession Kiran Kumbhar UPDATED: 03 DEC 2021 ISSUE: DECEMBER 3, 2021 Kiran Kumbhar, a physician and health policy graduate, researches the history of medicine and Indian history at Harvard University.       Protests in Mumbai, over the death by suicide of Payal Tadvi, an Adivasi medical student, in 2019 (October 13, 2020) | Twitter (DYFI-CEC) Reservations are — wrongly — blamed for encouraging mediocrity in the medical profession. The historical record shows that the floundering foundations of the profession were laid by doctors who came 'purely through merit'. The current  chaos  regarding admissions in postgraduate medical courses through NEET, although primarily a result of the incompetent and authoritarian working style of the union government, has nevertheless given rise to vicious commentaries against caste-based reservations. A particularly atrocious aspect of these commentaries, most recently heard in a monologue by a TV presenter, Palki

How China’s belt and road is connecting Southeast Asia, political wariness aside

The newly-opened Laos-China railway is just one page in Beijing’s growing portfolio of infrastructure projects in the region. Notwithstanding the challenges, China’s gambit is paying dividends in the form of contracts and clout Last  Thursday, Laos celebrated the completion of its first high-speed railway, a US$6 billion project backed by China. The inauguration came just a few weeks after Vietnam opened its first metro line in Hanoi, also built by China. These infrastructure projects are proof that Beijing’s massive Belt and Road Initiative continues to break ground even amid a pandemic, with far-reaching implications for Southeast Asia. They will no doubt burnish Beijing’s appeal as a vital partner in promoting connectivity and spurring economic recovery in the region. The new transport networks will be even more crucial after the world’s largest free trade agreement, the Regional Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), takes effect next year, bringing together all 10 countries of the

Pakistan’s Balochistan is Asia’s next headache

Last thing the world needs: a fierce new multinational battlefront in the borderlands of South and Central Asia By  VIVEK Y KELKAR DECEMBER 2, 2021 Separatism is just one of the looming problems centered on Balochistan. Photo: AFP Few in the West could quickly locate the Pakistani province of Balochistan on a map. But a fierce new Asian conflict is gathering there, this time involving Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Iran and even India. The Balochis are rebelling, violently, against the federal government in Islamabad, demanding independence, or at least a measure of autonomy. They’re also furiously protesting China’s economic domination of their province. China needs Balochistan. It’s crucial to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. But insurgents have been killing Pakistan’s security forces in the region – and workers on projects managed by China – almost daily. Balochistan shares long borders with both Afghanistan and Iran, and has ethnic and political links to both. Upheaval in Balochi