Rajputs: citations please!

In regard to the article about the downfall of the Rajputs, a minor virtual scuffle has erupted on Facebook that has compelled me to write this letter (“What our textbooks don't tell us: Why the Rajputs failed miserably in battle for centuries”).

The issue is about lack of citations. The person who shared the article (and he is a reputed PhD holder, author, humorist etc.) says that the piece is hogwash because it does not provide citations where op-eds in all major newspapers do.

The counter-party comes up with facts to support the article from a simple Google search, from websites like historydiscussion.net.  The person responds by saying there's no validity to this website and taking random stuff off the net to support your argument is not scholarship.

It would be great if the writer, Girish Shahane, can provide us with the necessary citations for his writing, thereby ending all questions of legitimacy of the piece. – Devarsi Ghosh


A useless article with ulterior motive. – Indra Sharma


It would be great if you could share something about the sources of research behind this article. As part of my work I came across something that suggests otherwise. It is a study on Bhands of Northern India. An excerpt from the study reads:

“..Like the Kashmiri Bhands, most Bhands in north India are Muslim. Thus, in 1896, Crooked (1:259) cited figures in UP, Punjab, and Haryana showing more than 14000 Muslim Bhands living in these areas and only 14 Hindu Bhands. In Rajasthan, however, because of the successful resistance of the Mewari courts to the spread of Islam, a separate Hindu caste arose, including the ancestors of Hazari Bhand, who served these courts as jesters.

The last line suggests that the Rajputs were at least able to fight for long and sustain, as compared to other parts of the country. Whether their techniques were good or bad is another question. The question here is not to establish who did better, or who failed miserably, but what is significant about starting a discourse around this now? And what are your sources to back this information? – Priyanka Borar


Interesting article. Can we have someone analyse as to why the Marrathas did not have any ally during the Third Battle of Panipat? – Yogibhandani


There is no harm in being proud of your heritage and applauding your great warriors instead of singing the praises of foreign invaders. I would have loved your article if it wasn't so biased and included some more facts such as how the Mughals and the British were more experienced warriors and their sole motto was to attacks and increase their territories. Rajputs, on the other hand, were rather peaceful rulers who were only contained with ruling and protecting their territories. And obviously they did not have access to better arms and ammunition.

India is still a Hindu country because of these Rajput kings, and our rich heritage would otherwise been like that of Afghanistan or aboriginals in Australia. I have never understood this Indian mentality of considering foreigners superior. I am as proud as the Dutch or the Irish. It doesn't matter that we lost because we were not that good in war. What matters is that we had the courage to challenge foreign invaders and preserve our heritage. – Khushi Deora


I like the articles of Girish Shahane. However, I am inquisitive about his sources, which often props up when discussing these topics with anyone else. Also, is he a historian?

Adding references will make these articles more defensible, and not look like some common anti-BJP/RSS/Hindutva bandwagon remark. All this, given that I am staunchly against any bandwagon. Let reason prevail. – Sandip Nath


This article was written by a Hindu, otherwise it would have meant one more reason to harass the Muslims. All these wars and battles were fought to gain a kingdom. It did not matter what religion they belonged to. Hindus have fought Hindus, Muslims fought Muslims, Christian have fought Christian to control India. These wars have been portrayed as religious, which is far from truth. – Ahmad Niaz


Girish Shahane's piece on Rana Pratap is superb! We need more of such writing in the emerging scenario. I put it on my Facebook wall and circulated it to many of my friends, including Romila Thapar. She has suggested that if a more specific piece on the battle of Haldighati could be written for some newspaper or on social media working out the layout of the battle field, the battle array on each side, the time of the battle (usually a few hours) and the tactics followed by each side, it would be a great intervention, though it wouldn't stop the present regime from going ahead with its agenda – at one time hidden, now out in the open.

I am also collecting some information, but at home I have access only to Persian court chronicles by Abul Fazl, Badauni, etc. We need access to Rajasthani accounts as well. It is very likely contemporary sources do not hold the battle as very significant, but sometime around the 18th and 19th centuries, legends began to grow around Rana Pratap. It would be great if this history can be traced. – Harbans Mukhia


Does this writer even know about history? Does he know who Babu Kunwar Singh or Rao Dhamdev Sikarwar was? What army and weapons the small Rajput dynasties had to fight Mughals and British. Specialist in debacle? I am still wondering why you people even publish such childish article and why such people are not being sued. If not Rajputs, then who do you think fought the Mughals for hundreds of years? You have a very, very shallow knowledge of history and most of it comes from leftist writers I see. – Abhishek Anand


Great details how the Rajputs failed against their enemies. Yet, the country still has a Hindu population to praise. – Vikas Gahlowt


Girisha Shahane needs to check his facts. His research and experience is limited and that is clearly reflected in his article. He talks like a typical Oxford graduate, a British puppet who’s completely out of sync with facts, relying on history documented by those who'd benefit the most by distorting it. He thinks his Oxford education qualifies him to have an opinion on just about anything. It's better he keeps his uneducated opinion to himself and spare the readers this torture. – Malavika Singh


Girish Shahane is nothing but that myopic old-school troll who has degenerated our history with a Anglo-Left perspective. His outlining of Rajput history as a response to Rajnath Singh's statement is bigoted, biased and with blinkers on. He is completely ignorant of Rajput warfare, history, culture, society, customs, believes. But like his ilk of Romila Thapar, Bipan Chandra, et al, he presents a harangue on Rajput failures. He forgets that it was the Rajputs alone who stopped the tide of Islam in north west India. India is the only nation on earth which could never be converted to Islam and it was not because of Girish. The Rajputs had been fighting for nearly 1,000 years before Marathas came to the scene. – Shivraj Singh Rathore

Jaitley: 'Merely a politician'
Since we in India have not yet given up our Constitutional commitment to freedom of thought and freedom of speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is as free as anyone else to criticise the existence of the Rajya Sabha (“Does an indirectly elected Upper House that can override the Lok Sabha really aid democracy?”).

However, if he really believed in what he said, he would of course have resigned from it. If he had done so, he would have showed that he is a man of principle. That he has not done so shows that he is merely a politician who turns with the wind. – Prabhu Gupta

Married to a Chinese
I follow your blog fairly regularly and especially enjoyed the piece about Chindian love stories (“One man's obsession: collecting heartwarming images of Chindian love stories”). I suppose as an Indian man with a Chinese wife (recently married), the story holds particular appeal for me.

Inspired as I am, I'd love to see this endeavour extended to China where similar narratives of cross-cultural unions abound albeit against a varied backdrop. - Animesh Narain

It’s not a cake, it’s Mandral
I was going through the old photographs of Sikkim and really liked it them (“An American photographer's idyllic images of Sikkim before India annexed it 40 years ago”). I am from Sikkim and it’s always nice to see old photographs. However, the photo that has been labelled as a girl, Kimu, carrying a cake has been misintepreted. It’s not a cake but something called a Mandral, which is a religious offering placed in our shrines. – Tsultem


Lovely shots. I have fond memories of Sikkim, even at the age of 57 and though I am far away from it. Thank you. – Yankila

MNREGA changes have impacted people
It was lovely to read your article in about how Modi government's new approach is affecting rural India (“Chhattisgarh report: How Modi government's new approach is undermining a decade of gains in rural India”). I work in an NGO in Upper Bastar Kanker, and could completely relate with the observations shared in the article. The depth and research gone into the article is what sets it apart from other political commentaries. My congratulations to the author for the effort she has taken to understand the complex issue and relating peoples’ experiences to policy issues. - Varnica


I read your article on the Chattisgarh report, and you have done a great job. The details and the way the entire situation was covered with facts was brilliant. Keep up the good work. – Devi Thulasiram


Amazing reportage. - Vidya Subrahmaniam


A good article that captures the views of the common man, woman of India, and how they are impacted by changes to the MNREGA. Perhaps it was the intent of the author, or it’s the reality, but the article is full of complaints from people. While the article focuses on the problem with the current system, I wonder why it does not give any details of the problems in the previous system. Surely, given that the same people were administering it, they must have been indulging in corrupt practices earlier too. For instance, a common practice is to get a signature for 21 kg, but hand out much less.

While the intentions of DTB are to eliminate corrupt middlemen, the author has clearly brought out how the lack of supporting systems, communication gaps, and most importantly that the understanding gaps can cause unintended consequences. – Ravinder Mandayam

I do not blame the Nepalese for their bitterness towards the Indian media (“Indo-Nepal relations: Lessons from #GoHomeIndianMedia”).  Even Indians feel the same way about our presstitutes. Any way we can rid this ghastly bunch? – Lakshmi

Oh, those IITs!
The article about subsidies to the IITs is absolutely true (“Dear Smriti Irani, stop giving my money to IITians”). Either the government must immediately stop giving them subsidies or make it mandatory for IITians to take loan from banks which they can pay back after completing their course. Most of the students’ parents can afford to pay Rs 2.5 lakh a year towards their child’s education.

The other option is to make the IITs like military schools: Entrants must be asked to sign a 10-year bond to serve the Indian government, ISRO, pharmaceutical or agriculture research organisations, or defence/army after completing their degrees. Otherwise, a bond must be filled asking them to send 50% of their salaries to the Prime Minister Relief Fund or other central funds to improve primary schools, develop the infrastructure or increase employment.

This is one of the many reasons why businessmen in India hesitate in paying taxes, because they don’t see their funds being utilised for nation building. We hope our young honourable minister Smriti Irani would bring in changes in the education system so that justice is being done with the taxpayers’ money. - Ajay Agrawal


Stop funding to these future NRIs/agents of foreign companies. Invest money in state universities in order to get best talent in the market and replace old British colonial bureaucracy, the IAS wallahs, in administartion. Good point for restructuring higher education. – Saxena PK


I am not an IITian. I don’t even understand the complexities of the higher education in these fields. However, after reading both the articles (both authors are right in many respects), i have a thought.

Since IITians will earn a higher salary (by virtue of their degree and intelligence), they could take bank loans to fund their education. The subsidy amount can definitely be utilised somewhere else. - Eshanee Chaudhuri


I found this article very meaningful. In the Indian education system, we really need to be focused not only on the IITians but other engineering graduate students also. I found that many engineers end up with the banking sector, which is poles apart from what they studied.

It is also worth noting that after finishing their engineering, these students pursue their higher education, such as getting an MBA, and then turn their expertise to other fields. The people who complete their education majoring in arts, commerce or science don’t find jobs thanks to these engineers taking most of them. It also becomes tough for them to get a government job as well. – Parag Sukhadeve


The primary objective of the IITs is to produce top-class professionals. Wherever they go, they help in improving the image of India. That adds lot of intangible value to brand India. The idea of subsidising IIT education is that children of even the ‘not so rich’ can afford IITs. Bank loans can’t meet that objective.

Maybe we need not subsidise fees for all IIT students. Maybe those from rural backgrounds, those who clear the entrance examination without expensive coaching, those who are from middle/lower income groups, may be subsidised. The contribution made by IITs can’t be ignored. Who said that engineers can contribute only in direct engineering activity? That is narrow thinking.

In the overall perspective, the amount spent on IITs is negligible. At least it is a productive application of funds. There are areas where as a nation we waste a lot more money. IITs are gems of India – let us nurture them. – TA Ramesh


We go earn foreign currency to get back what they took from us. This will increase the flow of that currency in our country. And it might somehow raise the economy. Micro economics. – Nazif Rayyan


Upon reading this article, it was no surprise that taxpayers’ money is not effectively and efficiently spent, let alone spending on IITs. Though IITs contribution in developing  our economy by all means is very meagre, at least  they are proving  that India produces  highly qualified and efficient IITians as there is a very good demand for them  abroad just like other products. We can be proud of them as our hard-earned money spent on them earned some reputation for India.

But, what about other investments made and subsidies given to other (primary , secondary and collegiate) education sectors? Does our money spent on these bear fruit to at least 50 per cent? No, major portion of this is being syphoned out by politicians ,officials ,principals, headmasters and teachers in one way or another.

The slogan Make In India has another meaning for me: Make Money In India. – Prabakaran Kandasamy


The government did not waste any money when I went to IIT Madras in 1965, as I am here in India since 1982, after a stint in US for 12 years, serving the engineering sector in the field that IIT-M taught me, Civil engineering.

Yes, the tuition fee then was only Rs 200 per year and the hostel was only Rs 100 per year. But IIT recorded major funding from the allied foreign country Germany for facilities. But perhaps I am one of the small percentage of those who did not opt for civil services, management, finance sectors.

However, very true for today's situation where values have changed and success is measured by how much money one makes and how much exposure he can get through the media. IITs are doing research with industry tie-ups already. Others simply cop out for managerial jobs, as IIT makes them an all-rounder. No wonder most software companies opt for engineers from IITs no matter what stream they are from. – VP Agarwal

Overrated Alphonsos

Why was the Malda mango not included in your write-up about Indian mangoes, especially the variety grown in Bihar called Doodhya Malda? (“Why Indian mangoes are better than Pakistani ones”). Yes, the Alphonso is definitely overrated, but this is the variety representing Indian mangoes overseas, and then we do lose the battle with Anwar Ratol. – Sufia Khalid

19 years and counting
India won its independence in 1947. Does it take 19 years for the judiciary to find out that they were wrong? For how long will the government permit this soap opera to go on, and waste money that belongs to the people of India? It appears that we are ardent followers of the Keynesian theory, creating unproductive projects to keep people employed (“How the numbers don't add up in the Jayalalithaa case: Did the Karnataka High Court get its maths wrong?”). – Gurkar

Why exclude the CMs?
I think the Supreme Court order on the use of photographs in government advertisements is welcome (“Why did the Supreme Court place restrictions on government ads?”). Perhaps the idea is that the ministries/institutions highlighting their work is welcome, as long as it is not for individual aggrandisement and for personal promotion. To this extent, the thought behind the order is logical.

However, I am not able to understand the logic of allowing the photograph of the Chief Justice of India. Also, perhaps through an amendment, they should also include the chief ministers, else the ruling party at the Centre will get an undue advantage. – G Ibrahim

Anti-India site
Is your news website doing its part in building India? Please write something good about India and its people or government who cares for the citizens and neighbours like Nepal. I find your news website more anti-India than bringing out positive criticism. Not only that, you want results from NDA government in 12 months but do not give enough account of Congress who ruled for 57+ years and made the country a laughing stock in the world, despite having talent and goodwill of the people. – Prafull Purohit

Linguistic diversity
We are aware of Ekushey Padak and the Ekushey Diwas (February 21), but not of the Unishey Diwas. The One State One Language policy or idea is itself faulty. Like Goa's official language is Konkani, and Marathi is also spoken here – with demands for Marathi being made a state language.

Many states have multiple languages – with linguistic minorities. We have an India where Assamese won't like Bangla language or Tamilians won't like Hindi and vice-versa. If a Japanese or American can study Indian languages, why can't we accept other languages from our own land? - KB Dessai

Bond, Ruskin Bond
I'm really glad that you wrote the amazing post on Ruskin Bond's birthday (“Happy Birthday, Ruskin Bond! Eighty-one and Writer No. 1”). Ruskin Bond is one of my favourite writers and an amazing person (I don't know him much, perhaps I got to know about him by his writing). I fell in love with his writing since I first read his first novel The Room on the Roof.

Needless to say, the post is amazing. Please keep writing such posts. – Subham Srivastava 


Thanks a lot for this wonderful piece. It brings to life vividly the personality of one of the most loved authors of all times. The writer, Sudeshna Shome, is are really lucky to have had the good fortune of working with him as a children’s book editor. – Anshu Mahajan

Return the unutilised land
If it is observed that the land allotted for SEZ is not utilised for many years, then why isn’t such land not given back to the farmers? Why is the penalty not charged to the persons /company? (“Land acquisition warnings from India’s special economic zones”). – Mukund Ashtekar

Delhi's Jung
The Lieutenant General cannot act on his own, without the consent of the Council of Ministers (“In the Kejriwal-Jung battle, is the Indian Constitution on the chief minister’s side?”). He has no power to execute any order contrary to will of the elected government. Even the President does not exercise his powers like this. He has to obtain the opinion of the central government. Media and empowered masses are spreading deliberate confusion. – Mannan Khan

Seal of Holy Prophet
The author has criticised the seal of the Holy Prophet in his article about the Islamic State (“The Islamic State's threat goes beyond the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra”). I assume you are not aware of this seal. Please Google it or find it in books related to archaeology. – Bassam Mahmood

Bigger back then
After reading your article about where the Ramayana is set around, with very little or no knowledge I would like to put forth what I understand (“Was the Ramayana actually set in and around today’s Afghanistan?”).

One thing I did not understand is the time period when the Ramayana took place. What if India was at some other place, what we now call at Afghanistan or Iran or Iraq or so on? The Ramayana still has reference to the Himalayas or other places that are still in India. As there were hardly any civilisation referred to in the Ramayana, the land mass from Afghanistan or Iran (as Pakistan was not in existence) till Myanmar (Burma) were referred to as India only. With the development of civilisations and formation of countries, India got shrunk to what it is today.

Let us assume that India was at Afghanistan. It is still a vast stretch of continuous land, one can walk from and up to the southern tip of today's India (Rameshwaram). The argument of others may not be convincing enough, and yet at the same time, the evidences put forth in your article is not convincing either. – Srinivas Rao

Not just glaciers
I have two comments on the article about the disappearing Himalayan glaciers (“As Himalayan glaciers disappear, Ladakhi farmers search for the ideal artificial substitute”). The author should point out that irrigation water in Ladakh comes not only from glaciers, but also from snow fields, springs, and rivers.

Secondly, it is not a question of “only time will tell which method – the traditional or the innovation – better solves the water crisis", rather the two techniques should be seen as complementary. The ice stupas are an additional water source, allowing crops to be sown earlier, or supplementing water supplies, whereas zings are not water sources, rather they are normally located just above farmland and allow irrigation channels' water to be stored and later applied to farmland. – Joe Hill

ISRO: Not in NASA league
The article about India's Mars Mission is silly though it will warm the hearts of our rabid nationalists (“Jugaad engineering: How India created the world's cheapest Mars mission”).

First, the cheap cost, by itself, is no surprise. With almost any technology product, the cost drops over time while the quality often improves. There is little doubt that ISRO has benefited from the knowledge acquired from the failures and successes of past Mars missions. The Mangalyaan mission would have been much more costly if this knowledge was not available.

Second, a standard dictum when comparing is that things must be compared with something similar.  NASA's MAVEN mission has a payload of 65 kilos while the Mangalyaan mission payload weight is 15 kilos. Not just that, MAVEN orbits Mars every 4.5 hours while Mangalyaan orbits Mars every 72 hours. This means that MAVEN is orbiting at a much closer distance which enables it to examine Mars' atmosphere as well as take much more detailed photographs.

We are simply not in NASA's league - they do things way more complex - and not surprisingly, their missions will be more expensive.  Notwithstanding all the advantages, sending a spacecraft to another planet is still not trivial and what ISRO has done is remarkable. – M Suresh

Don't give an inch
Indian Muslims should thank their stars that India is a secular country granting all citizens constitutional fundamental rights of freedom of religion to them. Some ‘extra wise’ Indian Muslims are ever eager to hand over this freedom to a government which itself is relentlessly striving to snatch all freedoms from its citizens.

An Urdu saying goes: Aa bael mujhe maar. We must learn from history that when we could not manage our freedoms, we invited outsiders to come and rule over us. We lost centuries getting back even semblance of our freedom.

To compound the irony, we are, or rather some of our wise men are, calling on professedly anti-Muslim government to intervene. We should be prepared to manage our affairs and should not give even an inch of space from out of our constitutional freedom of religion (“Ban triple talaq and abolish Muslim Personal Law Board, says former minorities commission chairman”). – Ghulam Muhammed