January 11, 2020

Diadems of Desth

Illustration: Tony Smith | Photo Credit: 08dmc_down memory lane
R. V. SmithNEW DELHI: 08 NOVEMBER 2010 18:43 IST

Though monarchs of Delhi, these rulers could not be masters of their own fate

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown,” is an old saying and, what is worse is that kings, queens, princes and princesses were all at risk of meeting a violent end from scheming rivals. It is interesting to note that the first Sultan of Delhi Mohammad Ghori was murdered in 1206 while on his way to Ghazni after suppressing the Khokhar rebellion by a fanatical member of the Mulahida sect. His viceroy and successor, Qutbuddin Aibak, then died in a fall from his horse while playing chowgan (a game akin to polo). Aram Shah, his son, was defeated and deposed by Iltutmish, who had been purchased as a slave by Qutbuddin (himself a slave of Ghori).

After Iltutmish's death his daughter Razia Sultan came to the throne in 1236, but in 1240 she and her husband, Altunia, Governor of Lahore, were killed by a rebellious mob of villagers. Her successors were incapable and two of her brothers and a nephew were ultimately killed. Then another brother Nasiruddin Mahmood became ruler. Though weak, he found a strong assistant in Ghiasuddin Balban. On his death Balban took the throne in 1266 and ruled with an iron hand for 20 years, but the death of his eldest son Mohammad was a big blow, and he died of a broken heart.

His grandson Kaikubad succeeded him, but he was murdered at a very young age and Jalaluddin Khilji became sultan in 1290. However in 1296 he was murdered at the behest of his nephew, Alauddin, who then seized the throne and stayed on it till his death in 1316.

Alauddin's younger son, Shiabuddin Omar, a child, was propped up on the throne by his general Malik Kafur but was killed after 35 days. Another son, Mubarak Khan then took over, but he was a debauched and in 1320 was assassinated by his favourite, Khusrau Khan, who then usurped the throne but after a few months was defeated and beheaded on the orders of Ghiyasuddin Tughlak.

The new emperor met his end in a conspiracy hatched by his son, Mohammad bin Tughlak, in 1325. Mohammad died in Sindh, after a reign of 26 years, of fish poisoning. Then the Lodhi dynasty came to power and its last ruler, Ibrahim, died in the first battle of Panipat while fighting with the Moghul army of Babar. The latter reigned for a brief four years and died in 1530. He was earlier lucky to survive poisoning by the vengeful mother of Ibrahim Lodhi. His son Humayun died in 1556 after a fall from the steps of his library. Before that Sher Shah, who had ousted him in 1540, formed his own Sur dynasty but died in 1545 in a gunpowder explosion during the siege of Kalinjar. His son Salim Shah was succeeded after his death by Firuz (Sher Shah's grandson) who was killed at the age of 12. Then Sikander Sur took over but was defeated by Humayun, who regained his throne in 1555 — the year his death.

Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb and Bahadur Shah-I died natural deaths, but Prince Khusrau, his son Dawar Baksh, and Prince Shahriyar (Shah Jahan's brother) died violently — as did his sons, Dara, Sheja and Murad.

Jahandar Shah was strangled in 1712. His successor and assassin Farukh Siyar too met a violent end. In 1754, Ahmad Shah, the next ruler, was blinded and deposed and Jahandar's son became ruler under the title of Alamgir-II but was assassinated. Shah Alam was blinded though he continued to reign until his death in 1805. His grandson, Bahadur Shah Zafar, died in exile in Rangoon in 1862 but two of the latter's sons and a grandson were shot dead by a British officer, Hodson.

Available records shows that at least 28 rulers and princes (if not more) were killed between 1206 and 1858, when the British took over, counting Sulaiman Shikoh Dara's son. How insecurely the alluring halo of the crown rested on their uneasy heads is evident from their fate. In our own times, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi also died violently but, though rulers, they were not monarchs.

Subhrak, Horse which killed Qutbuddin Aibak

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Subhhrak (शुभ्रक) is a less known loyal horse in Indian history. It was owned by Karna Singh, the King of Chittorgarh.
Quṭb al-Dīn Aibak also spelt Quṭb ud-Dīn Aibak or Qutub ud-Din Aybak (1150–1210 CE), was the founder of the Mamluk dynasty and the first sultan of the Delhi Sultanate.
Qutbuddin Minar

He was born to Turkic parents in Turkistan. In his childhood, Aibak was sold as a slave and raised at Nishapur, Persia, where he was purchased by the local Qazi.
After death of his master, he was sold by his master’s son and eventually became a slave of Muhammad of Ghor who made him the Amir-i-Akhur, the Master of Slaves.
He was appointed to military command and became an able general of Muhammad of Ghor.
Around 1170 CE, young princess Kurma Devi daughter of Nayaki Devi (Regent Queen of Gujarat) was wedded to Samar Singh Deva, the Rawal of Chittorgarh. Samar Singh was a Chauhan Rajput, a descendant of the legendary Bappa Rawal.
Kurma Devi (misspelled as Kuramdevi or karma devi in historical records) was Samar Singh’s second wife.
In 1171 CE, Samar Singh had married Prithabai, sister of Prithviraj III, the Chauhan maharaja of Ajmer and Delhi. Soon after her marriage, Prithabai had born a son, Kalyan Rai, but having failed to bear any further sons, fell out of favor of the King in the following years.
Rawal Samar Singh married again, hoping for more sons, in about 1178 or 1179, approximately around the same time Nayakidevi administered that resounding defeat to Muhammad Ghori.

Kurma Devi defeated Qutb-ud-din Aibak

Samar Singh was killed in the 2nd Battle Of Tarain (1191-92 AD) fought between the forces of Prithiviraj Chauhan and Muhammad Ghori, who had returned to conquer India.
Both Samar Singh Deva and his eldest son, Kalyan Rai, died in the second battle of Tarain, and, when Prithabai received the news of her double loss, she immediately mounted the pyre to rejoin her husband. Kurma Devi would eventually follow her, but first she had unfinished business to tend to. She had to ensure that her son Karna seamlessly succeeded his father and that his seat on the throne of Chittorgarh was secure.
By this time Muhammad Ghori had retreated to Multan having left Qutub-ud-din Aibak, his chief general, in charge of Delhi and Ajayameru (Ajmer). During this time Kurma Devi consolidated her forces, forging new alliances with Rajput rulers of the neighbourhood.

When his father Samar Singh died, Karna Singh was still a minor, around 12 years of age. The succession encountered no serious obstacles, and Kurma Devi became regent during the remaining year of her son’s minority. Inspired by the example set by her own mother, young Kurma Devi was an able ruler and re-strengthened her forces following the loss suffered in the 2nd Battle of Tarain.
When the boy king Karna reached his 13th birthday , she led the army and marched northward in search of the man who had killed her husband, in 1194 CE in the month of Asoj (Aswin) following Dassera, the traditional beginning of the warfare season. Nine rajas and eleven chiefs with the title of rawat with their men accompanied her on her march towards Delhi.
Kurma Devi

As per the battle described in Prithvi Raj Raso, young Kurma Devi and her forces encountered Qutb-ud-din and his army near the old Amber fort.
At the head of her army, leading the charge herself, just like her mother, brave Kurma Devi drove deep into the ranks of Qutub-ud-din’s Army, deep enough for her to confront the general himself and to challenge him in a personal duel.
During the mounted duel, she managed to bury her sword deep into Qutb-ud-din’s flesh, wounding him so severely that he tumbled from the saddle.
Seeing their General fall, and his body being carried away from the fight and, consequently, believing him dead, the Muslim army went into a complete disarray and fled from the battlefield.
Having believed She had killed Qtub-ud-din, and seeing his army fleeing the battlefield, Kurma Devi regrouped her army and led it back south.
Returning to Chittorgarh, she mounted the pyre and, like Prithabai.

Return of Qutbuddin Aibak

Qtub-ud-din did not die from his wounds. He eventually recovered and returned to Delhi, and subsequently declared himself not viceroy but Sultan of Hind.
He destroyed the temple of Vishnu, which also had Dhruv Sthambh or Vishnu Dhwaj. This was later named as Qutub Minar in Delhi.
With capital at Delhi, Aibak subjugated areas between the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. He then turned his attention to the Rajputs who were still resisting Ghūrid domination. In 1195–1203 CE, he mounted campaigns against their strongholds, while his lieutenant Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji conquered Bihar and Bengal.
After Muhammad Ghori was killed by Prithviraj Chauhan. Aibak was the logical successor.
Technically he was still a slave but he quickly obtained manumission. He married the daughter of Taj al-Din Yildiz of Ghazna, one of the other principal claimants to succeed Muhammad of Ghor.

He attacked Mewar once again and captured Karna Singh (son of Kurma Devi). Along with the looted wealth and king, he also carried Karna Singh’s horse Subhrak to Lahore.
Subhrak in sanskrit means, one who is wearing symbols of Subha (good). Like women wear bangles and anklets, this horse was wearing bracelets or anklets to its legs and it was a lucky horse.
After reaching Lahore, Karna Singh tried to escape but was caught again.
Qutubuddin ordered to behead Karna Singh and to increase the disgrace, to play a Polo Match with the dead King’s head.
Next day, to witness beheading, Qutubuddin arrived at the venue riding on the Subhrak horse.

Subhrak Horse killed Qutbuddin Aibak

Subhrak (Shubrak) instantly recognized his master Karna Singh and started crying.
When he was freed of chains to cut his head , Subhrak suddenly became uncontrollable and threw Qutubuddin on to the ground.
Without allowing him to defend, Subhrak started hitting his chest and head area with his mighty hooves continuously. After 12–15 powerful hits by a horse, Qutubuddin Aibak died on the spot.
This incident is not covered in history written by detractors. They have written that Qutbuddin Aibak died after falling from a horse.
Which horse is it and how does a person, who was riding horses since age of 11, suddenly fall from a pet horse and die ?

Entire gathering was shocked to see Aibak’s death in hands of Subhrak.
Before the army tried to capture it, Subhrak ran towards its master Karna Singh, who mounted the horse and escaped.
Several days and nights, Subhrak ran and one day it came to the palace of Udaipur.
As soon Karna Singh got down and began to greet his beloved horse, the horse appeared like a statue and had no life in it.
When Karna Singh touched its head, Subhrak fell to the ground, dead !
History of such a loyal horse was omitted in Indian, while ancient persian books recorded how Aibak this incident.

January 09, 2020

Education and Employment Should Be One System, Not Two



January 7, 2020

Photo by YinYang/Getty Images

It's 2020, but too many American workers still aren't getting the education and training they need to compete in the 21st century. Something's not working here, and it's not just the few million people struggling to find jobs.

A new RAND report argues it's our entire system of educating and employing people, from their first day at school to their last day on the job. We are preparing workers for a labor market that no longer exists, researchers concluded, and then sending them flat-footed into a world of dizzying change.

What would it take to fix that? To answer that question, the researchers asked another: What if we just scrapped everything and started over? What would we want the American education and labor system to look like if we built it from scratch?

A good education, reformer John Dewey once proposed, is one that helps young people develop “in an orderly, sequential way into members of society.” He was writing in 1934, but that's still a pretty good description of how we prepare the next generation for work and for life. It's orderly. It's sequential. You go to school, you get a job, you retire.

Two-thirds of employers do not think people are graduating with the skills they need to make it in the 21st-century labor market.

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But the world doesn't work that way anymore.

“Things are changing so rapidly that we can't necessarily prepare people for the jobs they're going to be doing in 20 years,” said Lynn Karoly, a senior economist at RAND who coauthored the new report. “We don't really even know what things are going to look like in five years.”

A recent survey found that two-thirds of employers do not think people are graduating with the skills they need to make it in the 21st-century labor market. It's not enough anymore to ace reading and math; employers want to see teamwork, communication, an ability to take information and do something new with it. They want workers committed to keeping up with the ever-changing demands of the workforce.

That means education does not stop with a diploma. Workers in all industries need to become lifelong learners—and employers, educators, and policymakers need to accommodate that new reality. The system needs to work less like a career ladder, with workers climbing rung after rung, and more like a freeway, with offramps for workers to refresh their skills, earn new certificates or credentials, and then merge back in.

There are places where that is happening already. In the coal counties of Appalachia, for example, community colleges have teamed up with employers to help workers retool for the burgeoning natural-gas industry. Germany offers its workers education savings accounts that they can use to pay for continuing education.

The system needs to work less like a career ladder and more like a freeway, with offramps for workers to refresh their skills and then merge back in.

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“The key takeaway from our report is that there isn't any one single pathway anymore,” said Melanie Zaber, the lead author and an associate economist at RAND. “We need to find ways to support workers on a multitude of pathways.”

Technology is often cast as the great disruptor in this kind of future workforce planning. One recent poll, for example, found that nearly 20 percent of workers doubt their jobs will even exist in 20 years. Another study tried to identify jobs that will be least susceptible to computerization (think recreational therapists and elementary school teachers) and most susceptible (insurance underwriters, sports referees, and, at the top of the list, telemarketers).

But technology is as much a part of the solution as the problem. Better use of online learning and digital credentials would give workers more opportunities to keep their skills current. Greater acceptance of telecommuting would keep some people, such as older workers, in the workforce longer, and help others match their skills to jobs, no matter how distant.

But beyond that, a workforce training system for the 21st century needs to be built on data. We should be tracking workforce demand in real time, forecasting when and where skills will be needed in the near future, and communicating that to educators and workers. Employers should not find themselves with jobs to fill and too few qualified candidates. Students and workers should not have to plan their futures with incomplete or outdated information about what their future prospects look like.

We should track workforce demand in real time, forecast when and where skills will be needed, and share that data with educators and workers.

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One way to accomplish that is with an electronic training record, the researchers wrote—a searchable resume, updated in real time, of a worker's education, skills, credentials, and work history. There are obvious privacy concerns here, and federal law flatly prohibits tracking some education details like that. But done right, such records would allow workers and employers alike to better match qualifications to job openings.

“We need to experiment with new ideas, see what works and what doesn't, to help us move toward the transformation that's needed,” Karoly said. “There's some inertia in the system. It worked for an era, but now we need to revamp.”

To stay competitive on the shifting grounds of the 21st century, that system needs to make sure people have equitable access to opportunities and learning throughout their working lives. It needs to do a better job of matching and rematching skilled workers with open jobs. And it needs to recognize that education and employment are no longer two separate arenas, but two parts of the same whole.

“We need to really think about this differently,” said V. Darleen Opfer, vice president and director of RAND Education and Labor. “The way people talk about this is as if education is one system and the labor market is another. We need to think about this as one system, education and the labor market working together, not separately.”

For workers, the payoff from that shift in thinking could extend well beyond the hours of 9 and 5. A good job has been found to be as important as good health in predicting someone's quality of life.

— Doug Irving

A multilateral alternative, by Asia

The Hindu,

A multilateral alternative, by Asia

Photo: Getty Images/iStockphotoPhoto: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Mukul Sanwal09 JANUARY 2020 00:02 IST
UPDATED: 08 JANUARY 2020 23:50 IST

The contours of the new order, with India and China as key players, should not be seen through a western prism

After a gap of 200 years, Asian economies are again larger than the rest of the world’s combined. As India and China resolve their border dispute, Asia is providing the multilateral alternative to a world divided by values, and no longer by ideology.

The phrase ‘Asian Century’ is said to have arisen in the 1988 meeting between Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, re-establishing relations after the India-China border conflict in 1962. It responds to the re-emergence of the two countries, leveraging size and technological competence to shape a new order that reflects their civilisational values which are distinct from those of the West. The travails of the West, for example, stagnating incomes of the middle class and also climate change, confirm that the global division is now based on values, as has been the case throughout civilisation. Even notions of a balance of power are a western construct, as the Asian giants have by and large lived in peace across the ages.

China, in 2013, after attaining 15% of global wealth, announced the multilateral Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and in 2014, launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, challenging the global governance paradigm. In 2015, emerging India established the International Solar Alliance, laying out a distinct global sustainable development framework, and seeking a triumvirate.

The United States has recognised the ‘Asian Century’ bypassing multilateralism; its direct dealings with China and India and the Indo-Pacific construct are examples. The way the U.S. defined human rights solely in political and procedural terms, withdrew from climate change after shifting the burden onto developing countries and the forced inclusion of intellectual property rights into the trade regime illustrate the colonial origins of current multilateralism now being questioned by even its proponents and not just by Asia.

New frameworks

The decisive shift responds both to the Asian growth engine and to Asian technology. Global competition is moving away from country-specific actions to fragmented competition, transformed by global value chains accounting for three-quarters of the growth in global trade over the 20-year period: 1993-2013. There is no provision in global trade rules for company-specific concerns where the global digital economy rather than countries are determinants of wealth and power. Imposing U.S.-determined national security standards on the world has led to only a handful of countries agreeing to ban Huawei 5G technology, has angered Europe over sanctions on companies building a gas pipeline from Russia; sanctions on Iran have affected India’s interests, impacting long-term relations and forcing a tacit choice between the two systems.

China, which had never been fully colonised and is keen to get rich quick, has a head start over India in laying out a new multilateralism based on “common interests” as different from agreed goals of a negotiated treaty. The BRI bilateral agreements optimise, not maximise, financial returns with countries having an effective veto by remaining outside. Countries support the BRI — it covers the territories of 72 countries and 70% of the world population — as a network-based evolving process even with market-based interest rates because of benefits of connectivity and integration into Eurasian markets. Half of future BRI funding is expected from multinational corporations and multilateral banks, adding to their stake in solving difficulties.

Potential of BRI

The BRI provides a strategic framework for new global institution building as its scope is as wide as multilateral treaties. For example, state-owned enterprises in infrastructure sectors in the BRI, with backing from national banks, are contributing to internationalisation of the Renminbi, enhancing China’s role in global economic governance.

As the world leader in digital transactions China is developing block chain-based financial infrastructure in BRI countries and exploring an international block-chain currency for digital settlements without relying on the dollar, thus reducing U.S. leverage.

With the speed and scale of such change, rising Asia remains wary of China and is eager, as is China, that India joins the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, poised to become the world’s largest trading bloc because of the huge Indian market. With the U.S. military ‘pivot to Asia’, China is keen to resolve the border dispute with India to avoid constraints. The recent India-China Summit on boundary issues resolved to work out a “framework on a roadmap to a final solution on border issues”; India has rejected American opposition to Huawei taking part in 5G trials. The Indian government has allowed all applicants, including Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, to participate.

New values

The contours of the new order should not be seen through a western prism. In 2018, China was the largest supplier of goods to the U.S.; it has also been India’s major trading partner. Every big state has bilateral relations with all three, and they take part in limited sectoral cooperation on a regional basis. Even faraway NATO has recently discussed the implications of the rise of China; China, like India, is not part of any collective security system. Both the U.S. and China have regular high-level discussions on strategic issues with India, recognising its demographic, technological and resource potential to be part of a future global triumvirate.

What are the implications of this state of flux? Asia formed two-thirds of world GDP, and colonialism, not stagnation, led to a decline of the Asian giants. Their re-emergence is not part of a global transformation of “westernization”. The border problem, too, is a remnant of colonialism and not the result of aggression.

Clearly, the U.S., China and India will retain their civilisational models into the future. In Asia, differences will centre on overlapping priorities — security (the U.S.’s efforts to maintain hegemony), economic (China’s emphasis on connectivity, markets and growth) and equitable sustainable development (India-led framework of digital infrastructure designed as a public good). By 2030, there is every possibility of a triumvirate

Asia, and Africa, former colonies with conditions closer to India than to China, are waiting for late-comer India, a civilisational state like China, to lay out its vision of a digital, cooperative, sustainable multilateral strategic framework to complement the frameworks of the other two powers. Early concrete moves for their simultaneous rise are in the global interest.

Mukul Sanwal is a former UN diplomat

January 08, 2020

New division being set up in Balochistan

Dawn, Pakistan

QUETTA: The Balochistan government has decided to create a new division and more districts on the basis of population and area in Quetta, Pishin and Qila Abdullah districts and constituted a committee to draw up a report within 15 days for the purpose.

It was decided at a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani on Wednesday.

Another suggestion for creating more districts was discussed and it was decided to create at least three more districts

Iran will welcome any peace move from India: Iranian Envoy

ET Bureau | 

US-Iran tension: 'We are looking for peace', says Iranian Envoy
NEW DELHI: Iran will welcome any peace initiative from India for de-escalating tensions in west Asia following the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, Iranian ambassador Ali Chegeni has said. His remarks came hours after Iran launched missile strikes against two US military bases in Iraq in retaliation. 

“India usually plays a very good role in peace in the world. At the same time India belongs to this region. We welcome all initiatives from all countries, especially India as a good friend for us, to not allow escalation (of tensions),” Chegeni told a select group of reporters after a condolence meeting for Soleimani held in New Delhi on Wednesday. 

“We are not for war, we are looking for peace and prosperity for everybody in this region. We welcome any Indian initiative or any project that can help peace and prosperity in this world,” he said days ahead of foreign minister M Javad Zarif ’s visit to India. Referring to the Iranian attack on US targets in Iraq, Chegeni said his country retaliated under its right to defend. 

Amid escalating US-Iran tensions, external affairs minister S Jaishankar held a conversation with Zarif and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, voicing India’s concerns over escalation of tensions. Jaishankar was in Tehran in December to push security and connectivity partnership. His visit was preceded by visit of deputy NSA Rajinder Khanna to Tehran and meeting on expanding Chabahar operations.