Political History of Sri Lanka

Here is a detailed history of how Sri Lanka has been seen in the political scenario. Maithripala Sirisena has now won the presidential elections.

1956 – Solomon Bandaranaike was elected as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. He made Sinhala the only official language. More than 100 Sri Lankan Tamils people were killed after the Tamil members of parliament protested.

1959 – On September 25, 1959, Solomon Bandaranaike was shot by Talduwe Somarama, a Buddhist monk. He succumbed to injuries the next day.

1960 – Sirimavo Bandaranaike becomes first woman Prime Minister in the world. She was sworn in on July 21, 1960 after her United National Party won the elections.

1965 – Opposition party wins the elections and tries reverse the nationalisation.

1970 – Sirimavo Bandaranaike re-elected and she brings back Sinhalese nationalism.

1977 – LTTE was formed.

1983 – ‘Black July’ riots erupt in Sri-Lanka; about 64,000 people were killed.

1987 – Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, which was intended to end the civil war between Sri Lankan Tamil nationalists and LTTE, signed.

1988 – Nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) protests against the Sri Lanka-India agreement.

1990 – Second Eelam War breaks. East Province taken over by Sri Lankan Forces after heavy fighting. The LTTE continue to kill civilians in the Eastern province.

1991 – LTTE suicide bomber kills Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, in Tamil Nadu. He was instrumental in bringing the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.

1993 – An LTTE suicide bomber kills Ranasinghe Premadasa, the third President of Sri Lanka during a May Day rally.

1994 – President Kumaratunga again initiates peace talks with LTTE.

1995 – The third Eelam war breaks out after a suicide squad attacked two naval vessels in Trincomalee killing 12 soldiers.

1999 – A female suicide bomber attacks a police station in Colombo targeting the head of the terrorism unit, Mohammad Nilabdeen.

2000 – The European Union criticises both the Tamil Tigers and security forces concerning the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.

2003 – The Sri Lankan government and the LTTE hold peace talks and agree on a ceasefire.

2005 – Rajapaksa elected for the first time.

2006 – The political killings, child soldiers, abductions, and clashes between the government and LTTE creates tension around the country.

The Trincomalee massacre of students happened in 2006. It was considered to be act of state terror. Vankalai massacre of four minority Sri Lankan Tamils. It was also considered to be act of state terror.

2007 – At least 28 people, which includes 14 cadres of the LTTE, die in clashes between the security forces and the Tamil Tigers in September.

2008 – Government blames LTTE after 12 civilians killed and 100 injured over a suicide bomb attack. Government launches massive offense ending the 2002 ceasefire agreement.

May 2009 – On May 18, 2009 Velupillai Prabakaran was killed by the Sri Lankan army. The war between the Tigers and the Sri Lankan military reaches its bitter end and the Tigers decide to silence their guns in the interest of Tamil citizens.

March 2009 – Vinayagamoorthy Muralidharan (Karuna), former deputy leader of the LTTE joins Rajapaksa’s cabinet.

2010 – Mahinda Rajapaksa re-elected. He promises to restore an independent National Human Rights Commission along with other commissions.

2011 – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was appointed to monitor the government’s implementation of Human Rights.

2012 – Rajapaksa government dismisses UN report which states that Sri Lanka intimidated UN members investigating abuses at the end of the civil war in 2009. UN blames itself for failure during Eelam war climax. The former Sri Lankan Army Chief, Sarath Fonseka freed after two and a half years. Sri Lanka was in the same state when it came to ensuring justice to the victims of numerous Human Rights violations.

Jan 2013 – Rajapaksa dismisses Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake after finding her guilty on three offences including financial irregularities.

Feb 2013 – On February 19, 2013 a series of photographs showed Velupillai Prabakaran’s 12- year son Balachandran hit by bullets by a British channel’s documentary. The incident created controversies against Sri Lanka’s armed forces conduct in their final stage of operation against the Tamil Tiger rebels. However Rajapaksa government denied shooting anyone.

Aug 2013 – The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says Sri Lanka was showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction.

Sept 2013 – Tamil National Alliance (TNA) wins election at the Northern provincial council.

Nov 2013 – Sri Lanka hosts the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) but political heads of India, Canada and Mauritius skips the meeting.

2014 – President Mahinda Rajapaksa doesn’t allow the UN to investigate the war crimes during the Tamil Tiger insurgency.

Contibutions of Britain to the World

Britain worked largely as an imperial ruler for centuries. It enslaved kings, countries and millions of people on the planet – a quest that first began with the idea of establishing trade ties all over the world. However, as a nation, Britain and its people have made vast contributions to the entire world. Listed below are the top 10 contributions of Britain to the world.

Luxury cars:

Some of the very first engines, including automobiles were first invented in Britain. Centuries ago, only Britain could possibly fund the research and development required for producing working models of automobiles and other mechanical systems. Some of the world’s best luxury cars including Rolls Royce, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Bentley were given to the world by Britain’s engineers.

Economic reforms:

A number of economic reforms that transformed the millions of lives on the planet were first conceptualized and implemented by Britain. Notable among these are the ideas of free trade, liberalism, capitalism and mercantilism. These economic reforms may have had adverse effects on some communities or countries in the world at some point in time but they’ve largely contributed in shaping the economic development of the world.

Constitutional monarchy:

Constitutional monarchy that later evolved into the present form of democracy – a government of the people, by the people and for the people – was a system of governance that Britain gave to the world. In a constitutional monarchy, a king or queen is not in the absolute control of the state of its people. It is the constitution which actually outlines the rules and regulations that have to be followed by everyone, including the head of the state.

Music revolution:

Pop music and other derivative genres magically took the world by storm over the last many decades. Music bands that formed in Britain grew up to become household names in dozens of countries in the world. Pink Floyd, Beatles and Rolling Stones are few names that would perhaps be remembered for generations to come. These bands laid the foundation of both cultural and anti-cultural revolutions in the world.

Literary revolution:

Some of the legends in the world of literature and poetry were Britons. Shakespeare, Kipling, Dickens and Milton are few great literary geniuses that Britain gave to the world. Till this day, even the most talented writers, poets and novelists are compelled to wonder if some of these people, Shakespeare for instance, were actually real and not mythical personalities created by combining works of many.

Strengthened the foundation of science:

Britain gave some of the best scientists and philosophers to the world. Newton, a British scientist postulated gravitational laws and invented Calculus that laid the foundation of several branches of Physics and Mathematics. Darwin, a British biologist who gave the theory of Evolution, influenced the opinions of billions of people on the planet.

Machine tools:

Machine tools are now used by millions of manufacturers all over the world. These tools are used to carry out mass production of prototypes or models. The concept of producing an object repeatedly by designing a machine tool was first conceived in Britain. It was the British Navy that first designed machine tools to create various components for their rigging in large quantities.

Industrial revolution:

It was due to industrial revolution in Great Britain powered by several scientific discoveries and inventions that the state looked forward to serious economic expansion in 16th and 17th centuries. While the state ended up enslaving many poorly run states and kingdoms across the world, it did carry forward the spark of industrial revolution in all countries it ruled, including America. True to the popular belief, Britain contributed a lot to the world at large, but the way it did so, remains questionable till date.

Mechanical inventions:

It is impossible to imagine a world without mechanical inventions such as railway, automobiles, gas turbines etc. We’d suddenly find ourselves in the 15th century if all modern day systems based on these inventions are taken away. All these mechanical systems were invented by researchers, engineers and scientists in Britain.

The English language:

The English language has played a big role in uniting the world. Today, ideas get communicated so easily from one country to the other only because billions of people on the planet can speak and understand English. Had there been no ‘Global Language’, acceptable to all countries in the world, many developing nations would have been unable to profit from the boons of industrialization, scientific advancements & technological innovations.

War – Provoking moments in Indo – Pak Relationship

The two countries have fought three major wars and there is no guarantee that a fourth one won’t happen. The Indo-Pak relationship has been strained and rebuilt over the years since independence; often the relations have hit rock-bottom. Here is a list of top 10 war-provoking moments in the history of Indo-Pak relationship.

Decapitation incident:

On January 8, 2013, Pakistani army men entered Indian Territory, killed two Indian soldiers, beheaded one and carried his head away. The incident that happened at the Line of Control angered the people of India. The incumbent government was further grilled by the media and the opposition parties. Heavy exchange of fire was witnessed on the border posts after this incident and a war like situation erupted.

26/11 Mumbai terror attacks:

After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the situation between the two neighbours touched a nadir unlike ever before. The relations worsened to such a degree that India deployed tanks and advanced artillery on the border. It was all set for an attack on Pakistan. Only after the mediation of international agencies did the whole situation got diffused to some extent.

Border killing in 2002:

The Pakistan Army lodged protest with their Indian counterparts that one of their junior officers was killed and his body badly mutilated by Indian troops on the Indo-Pak border. India rejected the complaint; however, the Pakistan Army warned India that the incident was enough to snowball into a war-like situation in the days to come. Nonetheless, the situation subsided over the days.

2007 Samjhauta Express bombing:

The bomb blasts in the Samjhauta Express – a train that ran from New Delhi to Lahore – in 2007 heightened tensions between the two countries. Most of the dead were Pakistani citizens. The investigations pointed fingers at some Indian nationalist organizations behind the attacks; however, none has been convicted. Although the two countries agreed that the act was aimed at sabotaging peace process, there is no denying that bad blood between two arch rivals continues over the incident.

Parliament attack:

On December 13, 2001, terrorists of Pakistani origin attacked the Indian Parliament in the capital, killing several security personnel. Investigations revealed that terrorists were trained by Lashkar-e-Toiba in Pakistan for carrying out the operation. This caused huge uproar against Pakistan leading to massive mobilization of troops on the Indian side of the border.

Hijacking incident of flight 814:

On December 24, 1999, Indian Airlines flight number 814 was hijacked by terrorists from Kathmandu airport in Nepal and forced to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The plane carried 176 passengers. The terrorists, allegedly from Pakistan, demanded safe release of three militants languishing in Indian jails. The whole incident lasted for seven days and created huge tensions between India and Pakistan.

Atlantique incident:

On August 10, 1999, the Indian Air Force shot down a Pakistani patrol plane with 16 passengers on board after it entered Indian Territory. The incident took place near the Rann of Kutch, and right after the Kargil war. The situation was very tense in Pakistan after its loss in the war during the time. The incident flared up the already tense atmosphere in the area.

2011 India Pakistan border shooting:

The incident was recorded on August 31 and September 1, 2011, across the Line of Control near Kupwara district in Jammu & Kashmir. The cross firing led to deaths of one Indian soldier and three Pakistanis. Pakistan raised the matter in the International Court of Justice against the Indian involvement in the incident but to no effect.

Siachen:

In the year 1984, India launched a full-fledged operation – Operation Meghdoot – to capture back its territories from the illegal Pakistani hold on the Siachen Glacier. The operation got extended almost indefinitely and clashes erupted in 1985, 1987 and 1995 making the situation worse. It paved way to a war like situation that was somehow averted. However, the ongoing dispute over Siachen has lent the place the dubious distinction of being the world’s highest battleground.

Operation Brasstacks:

It was one of the largest operations ever conducted by India in the South-Asian region. It was conducted from November 1986 to March 1987. Pakistan took it for aggression from the Indian side and mobilized its army on the border. The situation was all set for yet another war between the two countries but the tensions somehow got resolved.

Things to know about Nathuram Godse

Nathuram Godse is one of the most mysterious characters in the Indian history about whom nothing much is available in documents. He was sentenced to death after executing the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. However, there is lot of mis-information propagated about him by the successive governments.

Plight of Hindu and Sikh refugees:

Nathuram Godse, though branded a Hindu fanatic by successive governments of the country was a person with a kind heart which felt pain of others. It was only after witnessing the plight of the Hindu and Sikh refugees that received lots of brutalities at the hands of Muslims in Pakistan, Godse became determined to execute Mahatma Gandhi who, according to him, was the prime reason for inviting such fate to the people of his country.

Muslim appeasement:

Nathuram Godse was a devout nationalist who could not bear the development of Gandhi appeasing the Muslim population of the country especially Jinnah and being overly generous to Pakistan. Similar to many other youth in the country, Godse found Jinnah’s politics as mere blackmail and could not stand the fact that his motherland was divided into two parts in front of his eyes.

Avid Vir Savarkar follower:

He was among the very few who believed in the ideology of Vir Savarkar in a real way and moulded his thinking accordingly. Though he followed writings of Gandhi too, he was more influenced by Savarkar’s works and it was quite late (during BJP rule) that Savarkar model found application in the working of the country that would strengthen the social and economic set up of the country. So he could also be termed as a visionary of his time. Though, his ideology was pro-Hindu but structurally faultless.

Freedom Fighter:

Unlike many other freedom fighters of the time, Nathuram Godse was a prominent name for his activities on the ground level. He followed Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement completely and could be termed as a valuable freedom fighter of the country. Had he not killed Gandhi, he would have been named as one of the foremost freedom fighters of the time, undoubtedly.

A writer and editor:

Nathuram Godse was hailed as a very learned man of his time and he even ran a newspaper named “Agrani” along with his partner in crime Apte. He was the editor of the newspaper and wrote articles for it. This shows the level of his intellect and devotion towards the people of the nation.

Man with a cause:

Although, killing of Mahatma Gandhi cannot be justified in any way, Godse’s side of the story has always been suppressed by successive governments of the country. Not only were his books banned, he was also charged with sedition. He was always a man with a cause and after executing Gandhi he stood his ground and even called the police to arrest him. Alas, the story behind the scene could never come out in the open.

Kind hearted soul:

Those who label Godse to be Hindu fanatic are wrong in their facts and should recheck the source of misinformation. Nathuram Godse was a much learned man who worked with Hindu families during the time of partition without harming any Muslim. Majority of the Hindus and Muslims on both sides were busy spreading violence during the time of partition, but Godse not only helped the people of every religion, he saved their lives from the violent mob. The misinformation of him being a Hindu fanatic has been propagated wrongly by the government of the time.

Social activist:

A Brahmin by birth, Nathuram Godse was brought up in a traditional Hindu culture. However, he grew up into a person with independent ideology that differentiated him from others. He was very intelligent and didn’t value superstitions and social evils like untouchability. He even joined anti-caste movements and fought against such evils of society with complete zeal.

Worshipped Gandhi to the core of his heart:

It is said that Nathuram Godse was one of the strongest supporters of Gandhi during his youth days and even worshipped him for his ideologies related to life and nation. He bred no personal hatred against Gandhi and even bowed before the Mahatma during the morning prayers, just before he fired shots at him.

From Gandhi’s supporter to killer:

Though majority of the Indians know that Nathuram Godse was a Gandhi follower, very few know the reason behind his decision to shoot the Father of the Nation. As per some documents written by Godse the primary reason behind his assassination of Gandhi was the latter’s adherence to the  unjustified demand by Jinnah for issuing Rs. 55 crore for Pakistan. It is believed that at that time most youth in the country supported this decision.

 

Kings in Indian History

The top 10 greatest kings in Indian history shaped the path we walk on now.

Maharana Pratap:

He was a Hindu Rajput ruler of Mewar, a region in north-western India in the present day state of Rajasthan. Known for his gallantry and magnanimity, Maharana Pratap opposed the Mughals, particularly Emperor Akbar. Chittor was conquered by the Mughals; Maharana Pratap won back most of his territory except his cherished Chittor. He had pledged to sleep on the floor and live in a hut until he won Chittor back from the Mughals which unfortunately he never accomplished in his life time.

Chandragupta I:

He was a major king in Indian history and also the founder of the Gupta Dynasty. He is believed to have formed several alliances with powerful houses through marriages into those families. He was the Gupta Emperor from 320–335 CE and called himself Maharajadhiraj which means king of kings to show his superiority over others. He ruled over territories like Prayag (Allahabad), Saket (Oudh) and Magadh (south Bihar).

Samudragupta:

He was the successor of Chandragupta I belonging to the Gupta Dynasty and was the greatest king of that dynasty. Samudragupta is the ruler who is known to have ushered in the Golden Age of India. A great warrior, a connoisseur of art and a generous ruler, Samudragupta was chosen for succession by his father inspite of him not being the eldest of his sons. Another quality that he is remembered for is his tolerance and patronage for other religions.

Ranjit Singh:

Ranjit Singh was the founder of the Sikh Empire based in Punjab in the early half of the 19th century. During his rule he brought the whole of the central Punjab from the Sutlej to the Jhelum under his sway. His empire was based on the foundations of the Khalsa with opportunities for accession to commanding positions not restricted only to the Sikhs. He was a tolerant king and was also known as the “Maharaja of Punjab”.

Prithviraj Chauhan:

Prithvi Raj III was a king of the Hindu Chauhan dynasty. He ruled the kingdom of Ajmer and Delhi after succeeding to the throne at the young age of 20 and ruled much of present-day Rajasthan and Haryana. His elopement with the daughter of Jai Chandra Rathod of Kannauj, Samyukta , is a popular romantic tale of Indian history. But he is more importantly remember for having defeated Muhammad Ghori in the First Battle of Tarain in 1191 and later killing him during an archery show when blinded and imprisoned by the latter in 1192.

Kanishka:

Kanishka, also known as Kanishka the Great, was an emperor of the Kushan Dynasty. His empire extended from Turfan in the Tarim Basin to Pataliputra on the Gangetic plain. With Pataliputra as his main capital, his reign was famous for its military, political, and spiritual achievements. He also had regional capitals as far as present-day Bagram in Afghanistan. Kanishka was a great patron of Buddhism and is still today considered as one of the greatest Buddhist Kings of India.

Shivaji:

Shivaji Bhosale was the founder and the greatest king of the Maratha Empire. Hailing from the Bhosle Maratha clan, he created an independent Maratha kingdom with Raigad as its capital. He was crowned as Chhatrapati for leading the struggle against the Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur and the Mughal Empire. He is remembered as a great warrior and a hero who united most of India against the Mughals. Shivaji is also known for pioneering the guerilla warfare methods using geography, speed, and surprise for attacks against more powerful and larger enemies.

Ashoka:

Ashoka is also known as Samraat Chakravartin. He belonged to the Maurya Dynasty and ruled from ca. 269 BCE to 232 BCE. He reigned over most of the Indian subcontinent from the modern Iranian provinces of Khorasan, Sistan and Balochistan (unpartitioned), through the Hindukush Mountains in Afghanistan, to the Indian state of Assam in the east, and as far south as northern Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. He is attributed to the global spread of Buddhism and the emblem of modern India is derived from the Lion Capital of Ashoka.

Akbar:

Akbar was the Mughal Emperor from 1556 until his death. The third ruler of the Mughal Dynasty, he succeeded Humayun at a very young age. He went on to become one of the greatest rulers in Indian history and the greatest Mughal Emperor, too. His empire included nearly all of the Indian Subcontinent north of the Godavari river and he consolidated the same using marriage alliances and diplomacy. Akbar is known to have been a liberal ruler who believed in cultural integration.

Chandragupta Maurya:

Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the Mauryan Empire and believed to be the first Emperor to have united India into one state. The Mauryan Empire under Chandragupta Maurya was the largest empire in Indian history up until that time. With his chief advisor Chanakya, he built a strong central administration and economy. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest rulers in Indian history known to have conquered Alexander the Great’s easternmost satrapies.

Helen Keller

Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. She was a happy healthy baby. Her father, Arthur, worked for a newspaper while her mother, Kate, took care of the home and baby Helen. She grew up on her family’s large farm called Ivy Green. She enjoyed the animals including the horses, dogs, and chickens.

Illness

When Helen was around one and a half years old she became very sick. She had a high fever and a bad headache for several days. Although Helen survived, her parents soon realized that she had lost both her sight and her hearing.

Frustration

Helen tried to communicate with the people around her. She had special motions she would use to indicate that she wanted her mom or her dad. However, she would also get frustrated. She realized that she was different and it was extremely difficult to let others know what she needed. She would sometimes throw tantrums, kicking and hitting other people in anger.

Annie Sullivan

Soon Helen’s parents realized that she needed some special help. They contacted the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston. The director suggested a former student named Annie Sullivan. Annie had been blind, but had her eyesight restored by surgery. Perhaps her unique experience would allow her to help Helen. Annie came to work with Helen on March 3, 1887 and would be her helper and companion for the next 50 years.

Learning Words

Annie began to teach Helen words. She would press the letters of words in to Helen’s hand. For example, she would put a doll in one of Helen’s hands and then press the letters of the word D-O-L-L into the other hand. She taught Helen a number of words. Helen would repeat the words into Annie’s hand.

However, Helen still didn’t understand that the hand signs had meaning. Then one day Annie put Helen’s hand into water coming from a pump. Then she spelled out water into Helen’s other hand. Something clicked. Helen finally understood what Annie was doing. An entire new world opened up for Helen. She learned a number of new words that day. In many ways it was one of the happiest days of her life.

Learning to Read

Next Annie taught Helen how to read. Helen must have been very bright and Annie an amazing teacher, because soon Helen could read entire books in Braille. Braille is a special reading system where the letters are made out of little bumps on a page.

Imagine trying to learn how to read if you couldn’t see or hear. It’s truly amazing what Helen and Annie were able to accomplish. At the age of ten Helen could read and use a typewriter. Now she wanted to learn how to talk.

Learning to Talk

Helen Keller learned how to talk from Sarah Fuller. Sarah was a teacher for the deaf. By resting her hand on Sarah’s lips, Helen learned how to feel sound vibrations and how the lips moved to make sounds. She started off learning a few letters and sounds. Then she advanced to words and, finally, sentences. Helen was so happy that she could say words.

School

At sixteen years old Helen attended Radcliffe College for women in Massachusetts. Annie attended school with her and helped to sign the lectures into Helen’s hand. Helen graduated from Radcliffe in 1904 with honors.

Writing

During college Helen began to write about her experiences being deaf and blind. She first wrote a number of articles for a magazine called the Ladies’ Home Journal. These articles were later published together in a book called The Story of My Life. A few years later, in 1908, she published another book called The World I Live In.

Working for Others

As Helen grew older she wanted to help other people like herself. She wanted to inspire them and give them hope. She joined the American Foundation for the Blind and traveled the country giving speeches and raising money for the foundation. Later, during World War II, she visited with wounded army soldiers encouraging them not to give up. Helen spent much of her life working to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities, especially the deaf and the blind.

Interesting Facts about Helen Keller

  • Annie Sullivan was often called the “Miracle Worker” for the way she was able to help Helen.
  • Helen became very famous. She met with every President of the United States from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon Johnson. That’s a lot of presidents!
  • Helen starred in a movie about herself called Deliverance. Critics liked the movie, but not a lot of people went to see it.
  • She loved dogs. They were a great source of joy to her.
  • Helen became friends with famous people such as the inventor of the telephone Alexander Graham Bell and the author Mark Twain.
  • She wrote a book titled Teacher about Annie Sullivan’s life.
  • Two films about Helen Keller won Academy Awards. One was a documentary called The Unconquered (1954) and the other was a drama called The Miracle Worker (1962) starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke.

Timeline of Maurya Empire

The Maurya Empire (322 BCE – 185 BCE) was an Iron Age power in ancient India ruled by the Maurya Dynasty. With its origins in the Magadha kingdom, it was one of the world’s largest empires in its time and the largest ever in the Indian subcontinent. The Maurya Empire was known for a consistent and effective system of administration and finance that allowed for a thriving economy.

Chandragupta Maurya seizes the Nanda Empire.(c. 322 BCE) 

Though his reasoning is unclear, Chanakya, a Brahmin teacher, decides to destroy the Nanda Dynasty and guides a young man named Chandragupta Maurya in leading a guerilla campaign against the rulers. They spark a civil war, eventually forcing the current ruler into exile. The Nanda’s prime minister transfers power to Chandragupta, thereby beginning the Maurya Dynasty.

Chandragupta defeats Seleucus.(c. 305 BCE) 

The Macedonians, under Seleucus I Nicator, attempt to expand their empire into India. Chandragupta defeats them and claims a large swath of their territory in the peace negotiations, thereby expanding his empire westward.

The Maurya expand into the Deccan Plateau.(c. 300 BCE) 

Led by Chandragupta’s son, Bindusara, the Maurya expand east into the Deccan Plateau.

Bindusara inherits the throne.(298 BCE) 

At just 22 years old, Bindusara inherits rule over the empire. He expands the empire southward, conquering sixteen states and nearly all of the Indian peninsula. Only four kingdoms resist him, including the Kalinga Kingdom.

Asoka the Great inherits the throne.(273 BCE) 

Asoka, Bindusara’s son, inherits the throne following the death of his father. He proves himself to be a brilliant military commander and quickly crushes multiple revolts against his rule.

Asoka completes his conquest of Kalinga.(262 BCE) 

Asoka goes on to defeat the Kalinga kingdom. Although successful, over 100,000 soldiers and civilians are killed in the conquest, including many of Asoka’s own forces. Asoka personally witnesses the consequences of his aggression and decides to renounce war. He converts to Buddhism and sends missionaries to spread Buddhism throughout Asia.

The Edicts of Asoka spread.(c. 260 BCE) 

The Edicts of Asoka are spread throughout the empire. They outline the moral teachings of the emperor, including banning slavery, equal punishment under the law, and the fair treatment of animals.

The Lion Capital of Asoka is built.(c. 250 BCE) 

Asoka builds the Lion Capital of Asoka, a sculpture of four Indian lions back to back, at the important Buddhist site of Sarnath. This eventually becomes the emblem of India.

Dasaratha Maurya inherits the throne.(232 BCE) 

Due a misunderstanding, Asoka disinherits and blinds his original heir, his son, Kunala. Asoka eventually realizes the manipulation and has Kunala restored to court. However, upon his death, rule instead passes to Kunala’s grandson, Dasaratha Maurya. Under Dasaratha’s rule, much of Asoka’s territory is lost to the empire.

Samprati inherits the throne.(c. 224 BCE) 

Samprati succeeds Dasaratha, though sources are unclear as to whether he is Dasaratha’s son or brother. He is known for spreading Jainism and sponsoring Jain scholars.

Salisuka inherits the throne.(215 BCE) 

Salisuka succeeds Samprati and is known as a quarrelsome, unrighteous ruler.

Satadhanvan inherits the throne.(195 BCE) 

Satadhanvan succeeds Salisuka, and, under his rule, the empire continues to lose territory to outside invaders.

Brihadratha Maurya comes to power.(c. 187 BCE) 

Brihadratha Maurya comes to power in the Maurya Empire, but by this point the empire’s territory has greatly been reduced. He is still loyal to Buddhism.

Brihadratha is assassinated.(c. 185 BCE) 

During a military parade, Brihadratha is assassinated by the commander-in-chief of his guard, a Brahmin general. The general takes over the throne and starts the Sunga Dynasty. Under his leadership, he brings about a wave of religious persecution against Buddhists and a resurgence of Hinduism. This marks the end of the Maurya Empire.

The Indo-Greek Kingdom is established.(c. 180 BCE) 

The fall of the Maurya Empire leaves the strategic Khyber Pass vulnerable, which allows Demetrius, a Greek king, to conquer parts of Afghanistan and northwestern India. Demetrius forms the Indo-Greek Kingdom.

Marie Curie

Marie Curie grew up in Warsaw, Poland where she was born on November 7, 1867. Her birth name was Maria Sklodowska, but her family called her Manya. Her parents were both teachers. Her dad taught math and physics and her mom was headmistress at a girl’s school. Marie was the youngest of five children.

Growing up the child of two teachers, Marie was taught to read and write early. She was a very bright child and did well in school. She had a sharp memory and worked hard on her studies.

Tough Times in Poland

As Marie grew older her family came upon tough times. Poland was under the control of Russia at the time. People were not even allowed to read or write anything in the Polish language. Her father lost his job because he was in favor of Polish rule. Then, when Marie was ten, her oldest sister Zofia became sick and died from the disease typhus. Two years later her mother died from tuberculosis. This was a difficult time for the young Marie.

After graduating from high school, Marie wanted to attend a university, but this wasn’t something that young women did in Poland in the 1800s. The university was for men. However, there was a famous university in Paris, France called the Sorbonne that women could attend. Marie did not have the money to go there, but agreed to work to help pay for her sister Bronislawa to go to school in France, if she would help Marie after she graduated.

School in France

It took six years, but, after Bronislawa graduated and became a doctor, Marie moved to France and entered the Sorbonne. During the six years Marie had read a lot of books on math and physics. She knew she wanted to become a scientist.

Marie arrived in France in 1891. In order to fit in, she changed her name from Manya to Marie. Marie lived the life of a poor college student, but she loved every minute of it. She was learning so much. After three years she earned her degree in Physics.

In 1894 Marie met Pierre Curie. Like Marie, he was a scientist and the two of them fell in love. They married a year later and soon had their first child, a daughter named Irene.

Scientific Discoveries

Marie became fascinated by rays that were recently discovered by scientists Wilhelm Roentgen and Henri Becquerel. Roentgen discovered X-rays and Becquerel had found rays given off by an element called uranium. Marie began to do experiments.
One day Marie was examining a material called pitchblende. She expected there to be a few rays from the uranium in pitchblende, but instead Marie found a lot of rays. She soon realized that there must be a new, undiscovered element in pitchblende.

New Elements

Marie and her husband spent many hours in the science lab investigating pitchblende and the new element. They eventually figured out that there were two new elements in pitchblende. They had discovered two new elements for the periodic table!

Marie named one of the elements polonium after her homeland Poland. She named the other radium, because it gave off such strong rays. The Curies came up with the term “radioactivity” to describe elements that emitted strong rays.

Nobel Prizes

In 1903, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Marie and Pierre Curie as well as Henri Becquerel for their work in radiation. Marie became the first woman to be awarded the prize.

In 1911 Marie won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering the two elements, polonium and radium. She was the first person to be awarded two Nobel Prizes. Marie became very famous. Scientists came from around the world to study radioactivity with Marie. Soon doctors found that radiology could help with curing cancer.

World War I

When World War I started Marie learned that doctors could use X-rays to help determine what was wrong with an injured soldier. However, there weren’t enough X-ray machines for every hospital to have one. She came up with the idea that the X-ray machines could move from hospital to hospital in a truck. Marie even helped to train people to run the machines. The trucks became known as petites Curies, meaning “little Curies” and are thought to have helped over 1 million soldiers during the war.

Death

Marie died on July 4, 1934. She died from overexposure to radiation, both from her experiments and from her work with X-ray machines. Today there are lots of safety measures to keep scientists from getting overexposed to the rays.

Facts about Marie Curie

  • Marie became the Professor of Physics at the Sorbonne after her husband died. She was the first woman to hold this position.
  • Marie’s husband Pierre was killed when he was run over by a carriage in Paris in 1906.
  • Marie became good friends with fellow scientist Albert Einstein.
  • Her first daughter, Irene, won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work with aluminum and radiation.
  • Marie had a second daughter named Eve. Eve wrote a biography of her mother’s life.
  • The Curie Institute in Paris, founded by Marie in 1921, is still a major cancer research facility.

History of Slavery in United States

Slavery begins in the America

The first slaves in the American colonies arrived on a Dutch ship in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. Over the next 200 years, around 600,000 more slaves were brought to the American colonies, most of them to work the tobacco and cotton fields.

Where did the slaves come from?

Slaves were brought over from the continent of Africa. Most of them came from the west coast of Africa where the main ports for the slave trade existed. The conditions on the slave ships were terrible. Often slaves were “packed” tightly in the ship’s hold where they were chained up and unable to move. Many slaves died during the trip due to disease and starvation.

Slave Codes

The colonies established laws regarding slaves called slave codes. Some of these laws detailed the punishment for slaves who tried to escape. Other slave codes made it illegal to teach a slave to read, to help a slave to hide, and to pay for a slave to work. Slaves were not allowed to have weapons, leave their owner’s plantation, or lift their hand against a white person.

Abolitionism

After the American Revolution, many northern states outlawed slavery. By 1840 most slaves who lived north of the Mason-Dixon Line were set free. Many people in the north felt that slavery should be illegal in all the United States. These people were called abolitionists because they wanted to “abolish” slavery.

Slave States and Free States

The United States became divided between slave states in the north and free states to the south. When new states were added, one of the major issues was whether the new state would legalize slavery or not. When Missouri wanted to become a state, many people were upset because it was a slave state. In order to even things out, Congress admitted Maine at the same time as a free state. This was part of the Missouri Compromise of 1820.

Underground Railroad

Slaves escaped from the South to the North by using the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was a network of homes, people, and hideouts that helped slaves to make their way in secret to the North. Around 100,000 slaves were able to escape this way between 1810 and 1865.

Civil War

When Abraham Lincoln was elected president, the southern states were afraid that he would outlaw slavery. They seceded from the United States and made their own country called the Confederacy. This started the Civil War. Eventually the North won the war and the southern states rejoined the Union.

Emancipation Proclamation

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln gave the Emancipation Proclamation which declared that the slaves in the South were free. Although, this did not free all the slaves immediately, it set the precedence for all slaves to be set free.

The 13th Amendment

In 1865, the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery was added to the U.S. Constitution.

Interesting Facts about Slavery in the United States

  • The international slave trade was outlawed by Britain in 1807 and the United States in 1808. However, slavery was still legal and slaves were smuggled into the country up until the end of the Civil War.
  • According the U.S. Constitution, slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person when the state’s population was counted to determine how many Congressmen represented the state.
  • Some slaves were treated well by their owners, whiles others were treated horribly. They were sometimes beaten, whipped, branded, burned, and imprisoned.
  • Children of slaves were owned by the slave owner. They were often sold to other owners and the parents had no say.
  • There were free black people who lived in the South before the Civil War. Some of them even owned slaves.

Women Suffrage

Women’s suffrage is the right of women to vote and to hold an elected office.

When did women get the right to vote?

Women have always had the right to vote, but this is far from the truth. Up until the 1900s, most democracies throughout history only allowed men to vote. This includes the democracies of Ancient Greece, the Roman Republic, and early democracies in Britain and the United States.

In the United States women were not allowed to vote until the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920. That’s less than 100 years ago. In some countries the date was much later, such as in Kuwait where women weren’t given the right to vote until 2005. In other countries the date was earlier, as in New Zealand which pioneered women’s suffrage in 1893.

History of Women’s Suffrage in the United States

Gaining equal rights for women including the right to vote in the United States was a long and slow process. The first real fight for women’s suffrage came out of the antislavery movement by the abolitionists in 1840s and 50s. These people felt that not only should slavery come to an end, but that all people should be treated equal regardless of race or gender.

Seneca Falls Convention

The first women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. Around 300 people attended the meeting which was led by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The main outcome of the meeting was the “Declaration of Sentiments”, a document similar to the Declaration of Independence. It stated that women should have equal rights to men including the right to vote.

National Women’s Suffrage Association

In 1869, women leaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Women’s Suffrage Association. The main goal of this group was to get an amendment passed that would allow women to vote. They wanted the 15th amendment to include the right for women to vote as well as people of any race. However, the 15th amendment passed in 1870 allowing all men regardless of race to vote, but not women.

Another women’s suffrage group was formed in 1869 called the American Woman Suffrage Association. The leaders of this group included Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and Henry Blackwell. The two groups disagreed on whether to support the 15th amendment without the right for women to vote.

In 1894, the two groups merged under the leadership of Susan B. Anthony and became the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Their main goal was to get the 19th amendment passed.

Gaining the Right to Vote in States

Although women did not have the right to vote from the federal government, they began to make progress in certain states and territories. In 1869, the Wyoming Territory granted the right to vote to women. Later, in 1890, Wyoming only agreed to join the Union as a state if women would be allowed to vote.

In 1893, Colorado became the first state to adopt an amendment that granted women voting rights. Soon other western states followed including Utah and Idaho in 1896 and Washington State in 1910. More and more states began to make amendments to their constitution and the momentum for the passage of the 19th amendment grew in the early 1900s.

The 19th Amendment

In 1917, the National Women’s Party was formed to help fight for women’s rights. Leaders such as Alice Paul and Lucy Burns organized protests in Washington. At the time, President Woodrow Wilson was against the 19th amendment. Alice Paul was arrested and sent to jail where she held a hunger strike. In 1918, President Wilson changed his mind and decided to support the amendment and on August 26, 1920 the 19th Amendment was signed into law.

The Text of the 19th Amendment

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.